Your Monday needs Vegetable Lo Mein for Two.
Don’t worry, it’s easily doubled for 4. Or perfect for one (hellllooo, just the right amount of lunch leftovers!). Regardless of how much you want to make, we’re all here for the lo mein, so let’s get to it, shall we?
My lo mein journey starts way back in my junior high days. I lived in a suburb outside of the Twin Cities; it was fairly small at the time but just on the cusp of growing into another metropolitan mecca. In those good old days, we had a tiny hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant. I’m talking in a strip mall, with mirrored windows, tacky decor, and plastic table cloths (or, were those just on the chairs?).
Despite its lackluster appeal, this place had the best lo mein I’ve had to this date. Errrr….well, I take that back. Last year, as my family drove by that once small town on the way to visit my grandparents, we decided to stop, for the sake of nostalgia. I don’t think a thing has changed in the joint for the past 16 years… except the quality of the food. We left disappointed and wishing we’d let it live on as a memory.
It was a very sad day indeed. But it inspired me to finally make the lo mein of my dreams – the memory of the lo mein that will forever live on.
I didn’t love homemade lo mein – until now – for two main reasons:
- The noodles. This ma and pop joint’s lo mein noodles were more like soft chow mein noodles – super thin and soft. Every other place I’ve ordered lo mein served it with fat, soft noodles. I was always left disappointed (since doing more research… I’ve learned apparently American Chinese restaurants do interchange lo mein and chow mein…). But then I FOUND A SUBSTITUTE! Without having to go driving around to an Asian supermarket, right in my Whole Foods, were these Chinese noodles. They’re thin, soft, and have the perfect twirly texture I remember. Obstacle 1 overcome!*P.S. I’ve found them in other local grocery stores, too!
- The wok. If you’re like me, most of your life has been spent struggling to stir fry noodles, or even rice, in a shallow skillet. When I say struggle, I mean struggle. I did it – for the sake of noodles – but I was cursing under my breath as the noodles and veggies poured over the skillet, making a mess. There’s just no way around it: you need a wok. Not just any wok either… my answer to overcoming obstacle #2: this XD Nonstick Wok from Swiss Diamond.
Now I need to gush about this wok for a second. It has forever changed my stir fry game. The XD nonstick coating is amazing – nothing, nothing sticks to it – which is perfect because I’ve had my fair share of rice noodles sticking to other skillets (refer back to the cursing under my breath during my pre-wok life). The heating seriously is so even – medium heat is all you need! And the double handles, not all woks have them, but it’s a feature I adore because it’s easier to lift, or hold and stir.
Let’s talk about size for a minute. I know, woks can be big. I live in a studio apartment friends, I’m not exactly rolling in the space for my already excessive kitchen gear. Which is why I have the 12.5″ wok – there is a 14″ option – but honestly, 12.5″ is the perfect size – especially for Vegetable Lo Mein. So go ahead and make room, get creative and make space, because this is a chef’s dream come true.
Now to gush on the lo mein.
Again. Because I guess I already kind of started doing that, didn’t I? We know all about the thin, twisty, chewy, soft Chinese noodle situation. The sauce they’re stir-fried in… now let me tell you. FOUR INGREDIENTS!
DARK SOY SAUCE | REGULAR SOY SAUCE | OYSTER SAUCE | SESAME OIL
That’s it! Keep in mind, with the use of oyster sauce, this isn’t technically a vegetarian meal*. The oyster sauce is essential though – it adds a rich briny flavor to the sauce. And what about the dark soy sauce? A new staple to my pantry, it adds a sweet-salty flavor, and is thicker so the sauce really sticks to those noodles.
*Update: I just found out there’s a vegetarian option for oyster sauce, but I’ve never used it – if you have, report back!
Thin slightly caramelized onions wiggle their way throughout the noodles, carrots and red bell pepper add a crunch, along with the light snow peas. You can mix it up if you’d like – add a protein, change out some veggies for your favorite, add mushrooms! The world of lo mein is yours…
Tell me! What are you favorite lo mein add-ins?Print
Better than take-out, this classic Chinese dish is a quick dinner and can easily be doubled for more servings!
- 4 ounces Chinese noodles (1/2 package)
- 1 Tablespoon oyster sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 Tablespoon dark soy sauce
- 1 Tablespoon light (regular) soy sauce
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 cup shredded carrots (2 medium)
- 1 bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 3-4 ounces snow peas
- Boil a large pot of water; cook Chinese noodles for 1-2 minutes, stirring to unfold. Drain, rinse, and set aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together oyster sauce, sesame oil, and soy sauces. Set aside.
- In a wok, heat vegetable oil over medium heat. Add onion slices and cook for 4-5 minutes until tender. Add garlic, continuing to stir for 1 minute as it becomes fragrant. Add carrots, bell pepper, and snow peas. Cook for 4-5 minutes until tender.
- Add cooked noodles, sauce, and stir to coat. Continue to cook for 2 minutes until noodles are cooked through and sauce is distributed evenly.
If you want to add a protein, cook it with a bit of oil in the wok first and remove when cooked through. Add it back in at the end with the noodles to warm up.
Stir in some Sriracha or garlic chili paste for a spicy kick!
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