I’ve seen places over-dashing the oil to make it look shiny and more appealing. Yuck! This completely ruins the Chinese food spirit, as it’s supposed to be delicious and healthy at the same time! Let’s see how we do it.
What does “Lo Mein” means?
Not so surprisingly, the dish comes from China. That’s right, 捞面is called “Lo Mein” in Cantonese, or “Lao Mian” in Mandarin Chinese, which can be roughly translated as “tossed noodles”.
What is the difference between Lo Mein, Lai Mein and Chow Mein?
If the “Mein” (also spelled “Mian”) part means “noodle”, what is the difference between the “Lo”, “Lai” and the “Chow” noodles?
“拉面” or “Lai Mein” means noodles that are stretched by hand, while “炒面” or “Chow Mein” means stir-fried noodles. “捞面”, or “Lo Mein” (although having the first character originally being a verb, “to drag”) means “stirred noodles” when used as a whole word. They are all, surprisingly, Cantonese pronunciation. People who speak Mandarin will read the title as “Lao Mian”, “La Mian” and “Chao Mian”.
So, our dish requires stir-frying. Isn’t this Chow Mein?
Well, it’s not the difference in the name that makes the two dishes, but instead, the texture.
Lo Mein is supposed to be softer than Chow Mein, as we want the noodles to soak up the sauce more thoroughly. Therefore, the boiling process in making Lo Mein is a bit longer, letting the noodles expand to make room for the sauce to be mixed in later.
Is Lo Mein healthy?
The recipe calls for noodles, veggies and soy sauce, so the dish is high in carbs and fiber. However, it’s possible to stir in more veggies and several strips of chicken breast with the skin off. Chicken suits noodles well and is a healthy source of protein.
The bottom line is, it’s you to decide its content. If you want it to be healthy, reduce the amount of noodles and double the veggies that go in.
Choosing the noodles to make Lo Mein
Ah… the main ingredient that decides the fate of this dish. Remember, not all yellow-colored noodles you see on racks have the same texture. What you want right now is egg noodles, not pasta or Japanese, or Korean-branded ramen noodles.
If you have access to fresh egg noodles, that’s great! Freshly made noodles are stretchier in texture. If not, below are the kinds you might stumble upon in the supermarket:
- Lo Mein Noodles: kinda round and long, looking exactly like the first 3 pictures on google when you type “lo mein noodles”;
- La Mein Noodles: super duper long, which makes themselves have another name, “longevity noodles”. They are thin, chewy and able to absorb the sauce;
- Mee Pok (Flat Noodles): with the name being that of a Hokkien dialect, it’s firmer than the regular Lo Mein Noodles and is usually used to make Chow Mein. You could use it if there’s no other option;
- Wonton Noodles: many people mistook wonton noodles with wonton wrappers and automatically assume that they are both the same in texture. In fact, unlike wonton wrappers, wonton noodles are very chewy, perfect for making this dish.
- Yaka Mein Noodles: thicker than the traditional Lo Mein Noodles and are mainly used in making soup noodles. Not recommended as the texture isn’t appropriate;
- Japanese and Korean brands.
Can I boil the noodles the night before and store them somewhere?
No. Why spend the effort, though?
What’s convenient about cooking noodles, my favorite source of carb, is that they take just minutes to cook and could easily be stored as they are dried. Boiling the noodles and finding ways to preserve them just take too much time and it’s just not worth it.
How to Make Lo Mein
Easy Lo Mein Recipe
For the noodle
- 8 ounces of Lo Mein noodles
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 cups cremini mushrooms sliced
- 1 red bell pepper julienned
- 1 carrot julienned
- 1/2 cup snow peas whole
- 3 cups baby spinach whole
For the sauce
- 2 tablespoons sodium soy sauce reduced
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon Sriracha
- Put all ingredients in the sauce list into a small mixing bowl. Whisk them together until everything dissolves and set aside.
- Boil a large pot of water and cook the noodles as instructed on the package. Make sure to take a bite to judge its texture. Remember, it should be soft, not so chewy.
- Heat the pan with some oil over medium-high heat and toss in the garlic along with the stiff veggies (carrots, mushrooms, and bell pepper). Stir it for about 3-4 minutes or until tender.
- Put in the soft veggies (snow peas and spinach) for 2-3 minutes, or until the spinach looks wilted.
- Stir in the egg noodles and the sauce, gently toss to mix everything.