~ Pantry Cooking: No-Pain Stay-Sane E-Z Lo Mein ~
Lo mein. In Chinese it literally means "tossed noodles", and, it implies a method in which cooked wheat noodles get tossed into almost any type of stir-fry at the end of the cooking process. As a result, the noodles absorb some sauce and stay soft while the other previously-cooked ingredients (meat, poultry, seafood and/or vegetables) get distributed evenly throughout. An example of the opposite would be chow mein, which means "fried noodles", and implies a method in which the noodles are fried to a crispy state at the beginning of the cooking process.
Lo-Mein. Like spaghetti, I want it when I want it. ASAP!
Noodles are universally popular and lo mein is extremely popular in Chinese restaurants all over the world. I for one have eaten in Chinese restaurants all over the world and have never encountered a Chinese menu sans lo mein. That would be the equivalent of walking into an Italian restaurant and not being able to order a simply-sauced bowl of stranded pasta. It's unthinkable. The same goes in my home kitchen too, and it's why this lo-mein lover came up with a quick-to-make pantry-staple-recipe to quickly satisfy my cravings for lo-mein any time of the day or night. Just like eating a bowl of spaghetti at midnight, I want it when I want it -- ASAP.
Get out a few pantry staples, slice chicken & cook noodles:
6 tablespoons tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons each: hoisin sauce, oyster-flavored sauce, Sriracha sauce and sesame oil
12 ounces lo-mein noodles or spaghetti, cooked according to package directions, drained and briefly rinsed under cold running water to keep them from sticking together
1 1/2 pounds chicken tenders or pork tenderloin, prepped and marinated as directed below
1/4 cup marinade/sauce, from above recipe, for marinating chicken or pork
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon bottled minced garlic or garlic paste
2 tablespoons bottled minced ginger or ginger paste
3/4-1 cup thinly-sliced sweet onion, half-moon shapes cut into halves
1 1/2-2 cups frozen peas and carrots, frozen broccoli florets may be substituted
1 4 1/2-6-ounce jar sliced mushrooms, well-drained
cooked lo-mein noodles and sauce, from above recipe
~Step 1. In a 1-cup measuring container, stir together the ingredients for the marinade/sauce. Set aside. Cut the chicken tenders into long thin strips, then cut the strips into shorter strips, placing them in a 1-gallon food storage bag as you work. Add 1/4 cup of the marinade/sauce mixture to the chicken and close the bag. Using your fingertips, "massage" the bag of chicken until it is evenly coated in marinade and set aside. Dice onion and set aside.
~Step 2. While chicken is marinating, cook lo-mein noodles as directed, drain into a colander and rinse under cold running water. For a moment or two, give the colander several vigorous shakes to insure excess water is removed. Set aside to thoroughly drain while preparing stir fry.
Note: While spaghetti may be substituted for lo-mein noodles without any compromise in taste or texture, be aware that lo-mein noodles cook to al dente in a short 3-4 minutes and spaghetti will take a bit longer, 10-11 minutes. Be sure not to overcook either one.
~Step 3. In a 12" stir-fry pan or a skillet, heat the sesame oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring constantly, until bubbling and fragrant. About 30 seconds. Add the chicken (or pork) and all of it's marinade and stir-fry, stirring constantly, until chicken is turning opaque and just short of being cooked through, about 3 minutes. Add the onion, frozen vegetables and mushrooms. Continue to stir-fry, stirring constantly, until veggies are just thawed, about 3 more minutes. Drizzle in 1/2 cup of the sauce and stir until all ingredients are completely and evenly coated. Note: There will be 1/4 cup sauce left for the next step.
~ Step 4. Add the cooked lo mein noodles to the skillet. Using two forks or two spoons, toss, like you would a salad, until noodles are coated in sauce, adding additional sauce, in small amounts, until the mixture suits your taste.
Remove from heat, portion into warm bowls & serve ASAP:
Special Equipment List: 1-cup measuring container; cutting board; chef's knife; 1-gallon food storage bag; 4-quart wide-bottomed stockpot; colander; 12" stir-fry pan or skillet, preferably nonstick; two large slotted spoons or spatulas
Cook's Note: The secret to a great stir-fry is a great sauce and the concoction I used in this recipe, a 2:1 ratio of soy sauce to equal parts hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, Sriracha sauce and sesame oil takes a back seat to none. I use it as an easy-to-make go-to Asian brown sauce in all sorts of stir-fries.
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2016)