When I don’t have hours to spend rolling grape leaves but have a hankering for ethnic food, lo mein is a dish I know I can throw together in less than 10 minutes for minimal cash outlay. Here’s what you need:
To prepare: Start noodle water boiling, peel the carrots and slice the ends off. Then slice on the diagonal for quick tender-crisp cooking. Set aside and get started slicing cabbage into smaller strips / chunks. The same with the onions. Put all the vegetables aside and pre-cut your meat or tofu. Small pieces are best, as they will cook up quickly. If you have everything pre-cut, this will speed things up immensely. Put the protein in a frying pan with a bit of cooking oil and get the heat cranking. As soon as the meat is just past the color change stage, go ahead and add the vegetables.
The water should be boiling at this point, so toss in the noodles. The cool thing about lo mein noodles is that they cook up in 1-2 minutes, just like angel hair pasta. By the time they are done, the vegetables and protein element should be cooked. Drain the noodles and toss them into the pan, after turning the heat in the vegetable pan down to low. Add whatever amount of oyster sauce is appropriate. Once the sauce heats through a bit, you are ready to serve.
You may have noticed I did not include specific amounts of the ingredients in this recipe. That’s because it is so easily adapted to whatever size batch you want to make, you can really eyeball this one with very little experience in the kitchen. I really like this recipe for it’s flexibility, convenience, and low cost. Not to mention that it has a fair amount of ethnic style and is easily modified for both meat lover and vegetarian alike.
Side note: I hope this doesn’t sound too much like a shameless plug, but if you want some suggestions for having tofu prepped and ready to use on the fly, I did a fairly detailed article on the subject for Wise Bread. It provides tips for having it prepared ahead and in your freezer to grab a few cubes whenever you need it for curry, stir fry, lo mein, etc.
Enjoy the lo mein, everybody!
Photo credit: Paperclipfork