April 01, 2011
I've made some Thai noodle dishes, such as Pad Thai, in the fairly recent past, and just last week I made up a batch of sesame noodle salad for my work place's monthly potluck, but until this past weekend it had been a long time since I made my favorite Asian noodle dish, lo mein. Having made it again, I don't know why I waited so long.
One factor was probably lack of a good recipe. Some of the lo mein recipes I have tried in the past have been pretty awful: soggy or, even worse, greasy noodles, limp vegetables, and either bland or tasting of nothing but soy sauce. More recently I've run into a couple lo mein recipes - including one in The New Best Recipe - that didn't look bad, but which also didn't seem too exciting. So, as I've been doing more and more often, I decided to just make up a recipe of my own, drawing from the recipes I had on hand and from what I've learned by doing a lot of cooking for the past several months.
The first thing that made my Lo Mein so good was using the right kind of noodles, namely Chinese egg noodles. Our favorite Asian grocery doesn't stock fresh ones or uncooked dry ones, but it does stock big bags of frozen, pre-cooked Chinese egg noodles, and they're really excellent. They make for a much better lo mein than do typical Western substitutions like spaghetti and linguine.
Since I was also planning to make a chicken dish (Sesame Chicken, which I'll post about separately), I decided to make a Vegetable Lo Mein. I ended up making my Lo Mein with sugar snap peas (the ones in the stores looked a lot better than did the snow peas), broccoli, carrots, fresh mushrooms and bean sprouts. I'd have liked to include some baby bok choy, but the supermarkets I checked didn't have any in stock. Maybe next time.
There will definitely be a next time, because I loved the Lo Mein. Tasty noodles with a rich, sweet sauce and lots of fresh, crisp vegetables... this was the sort of Lo Mein I longed for. It was better than any Lo Mein I'd ever made before, and as good as the best I've ever eaten in restaurants. This recipe is definitely a keeper.
Vegetable Lo Mein
yield = 5-6 servings
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons Asian (dark) sesame oil
8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced thin
1 large carrot, peeled and shredded
1 bunch green onions, sliced thin, white and green
3 cups broccoli florets
8 ounces snap peas
3 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 pounds Chinese egg noodles, cooked
2 cups bean sprouts
Combine chicken broth, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, honey, cornstarch and black pepper in a measuring cup. Whisk together, then set aside.
Heat the vegetable and sesame oil in a large skillet with lid over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add mushrooms, carrots and the white parts of the green onions and stir-fry 2 minutes. Add broccoli and snap peas and stir-fry two minutes, then add 1/4 cup water, cover skillet with lid and cook 4 minutes, then remove lid and cook another minute or so, stirring occasionally.
Remove lid, add garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant (30-60) seconds, then add the chicken broth mixture and cook until thickened. Add noodles, bean sprouts and the white parts of the green onions and stir to mix thoroughly. Serve.