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Lo Mein is a popular dish that originated in China as a wheat flour noodle dish. In Cantonese, Lo Mein (lōu mihn) translates to “stirred noodles.” The dish itself might not have exact origins, but Chinese culture has enjoyed this style of noodles since the Han dynasty over 2,000 years ago.
Lo Mein can often be confused with another Chinese noodle dish, chow mein. However, Lo Mein offers more health benefits than its fried counterpart. It is low in sodium and calories but offers adequate carbohydrates, calcium, and daily iron and vitamin C.
With the heavy emphasis on fresh vegetables (even better if you can get fresh Lo Mein noodles), it won’t tip the scales on your cholesterol, either.
Want to make this dish even healthier? Go for low-sodium soy sauce. This will cut the salt intake down further but still offer a ton of flavor.
With Lo Mein, vegetables and proteins are the best supporting actors, but the lead alongside the noodles is the sauce. Your sauce ingredients need balance because Lo Mein is all about rich flavors that don’t overwhelm each other.
The best way to do this? Use a balance of light soy sauce (like Yamasa soy sauce) and dark soy sauce (like Lee Kee Kum’s premium dark soy sauce).
Each provides an umami flavor, but the richness of each is invested in complementary profiles. The dark will balance sweet with the salty notes of the light version. You’ll also need sugar for extra balance and sesame oil for a nutty backbone that finishes softly on the palette. Add the vegetables you prefer and the protein of your choosing.
For a traditional Chinese offering, you will want to add veggies like bok choy, bean sprouts, garlic cloves, fresh ginger, green onions or scallions, and snap peas or snow peas.
The vegetables can be interchanged for personal tastes, so if you like zucchini, go for it!
Pro-tip for the ultimate home-cooking experience: make sure your veggies are julienned. Your guests will think it’s your favorite takeout restaurant!
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again, the noodles need to shine. There are plenty of variations of Lo Mein, but don’t stray from those noodles. You could even substitute oyster sauce for soy sauces if you prefer.
With Lo Mein, your noodles must be fully cooked before adding to the wok. They need to cook in boiling water on medium-high heat but check the packaging for time.
Fresh noodles need less cooking time than dried. As opposed to stir-fry noodles that need to be cooked in the pan, Lo Mein is added at the end. We recommend Twin Marquis Lo Mein Noodles and the Twin Marquis Fresh Noodle Sampler.
What’s the best part? Not only is Lo Mein delicious in all its forms, but the total time (prep time plus cook time) should also be less than thirty minutes!
A classic and simple Lo Mein recipe will be perfect for an easy weeknight meal. Add savory, starchy, and naturally sweet veggies for an ideal balance.
Pro-tip: Be sure to drain the noodles as soon as they are done cooking. If you leave them in the water, they’ll continue to cook, and the starches will break down, resulting in soggy noodles.
We also recommend using a tablespoon of cooking oil to saute the vegetables until they’re softer in texture and begin to caramelize. Once those veggies are lightly cooked, throw in your sauce and noodles and mix until combined.
Add chicken breast or beef for protein. We recommend cutting the meat into strips or diced into smaller pieces.
Pro Tip: Velveting the meat will help the meat absorb more of the sauce and create the perfect texture! We also recommend adding julienned red bell peppers with the proteins. This provides a savory-sweet quality that adds a depth of heartiness to the meat.
To create a perfect vegetable Lo Mein, you need to ramp up the flavors and heartiness of the dish. Vegetables, like mushrooms, work well to add additional protein and savory flavors to the Lo Mein sauce. We also suggest adding toasted sesame oil to the vegetable saute.
Adding cornstarch to the sauce can help thicken it up, especially with the natural moisture of the vegetables. Be sure to garnish with a little fresh green onion or scallion for that fresh bite of herbaceous sweetness.
A seafood Lo Mein is never a bad idea. Seafood will provide an earthy brine to the dish that balances so well with the savory qualities already present. Shrimp and fish soak up the sauce so well.
Seafood noodle dishes are also popular in Asian cuisine, so this is something that you’ll see on restaurant menus. Be sure to toss gently once the cooked noodles are in the bowl, as the texture of fish is more delicate than veggies and meats.
If you’re serving for a large party, plate in a big bowl and serve into smaller bowls at the table to add tradition to the experience.
Lo Mein has a long-standing history and has even become more popular with several ways to make it. With so many options and recipes online, try Lo Mein for yourself and enjoy the combined flavors of wheat noodles and veggies.
If you’re looking to try Lo Mein noodles or need some ingredients to complete the dish, check out Umamicart for Asian groceries delivered straight to your door.
Evaluation of a Healthy Chinese Take-Out Sodium-Reduction Initiative in Philadelphia Low-Income Communities and Neighborhoods | NIH
Fruit and Vegetable Intake: Benefits and Progress of Nutrition Education Interventions- Narrative Review Article | PMC
Vegetable Cooking Methods | The Culinary Pro
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