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Weeknight House Special Lo Mein

A classic Chinese restaurant staple, Lo Mein is a quick and easy meal that is perfect for busy weeknights. This favorite of ours does double duty, it cleans out the leftovers in the fridge and get’s dinner on the table fast.

House Special Lo Mein

What Is The Difference Between Lo Mein and Chow Mein?

Lo Mein is an incredibly popular noodle dish originating from China. The word “mein” means noodles, so any dish you order with “mein” in the title or description will always come with noodles.

Lo Mein and Chow Mein are two very similar dishes that many people get confused. The main difference between Lo Mein and Chow Mein is how the noodles are prepared. “Chow” means “stir-fried”, and Chow Mein noodles are often made to be crispy. “Lo” means “stirred” or “tossed”, and these noodles have a softer, spaghetti-like texture.

For more information on the differences between these two dishes, check out my article on Chow Mein vs. Lo Mein.

Veggies on a cutting board.

What Is House Special Lo Mein?

One of the best attributes about Lo Mein is how open-ended the recipe is. As long as you use parboiled wheat-based egg noodles, you’ve got Lo Mein.

There are many varieties of traditional Lo Mein. Many variations of Lo Mein use sea food, such as shrimp or lobster, as the primary protein and source of flavor. If seafood isn’t your thing, look out for chicken, beef, pork, or vegetable Lo Mein. The possibilities are endless!

If you walk into a Chinese restaurant and you’re craving some delicious noodles, keep an eye out for “house special” Lo Mein. These dishes are different depending on the restaurant you go to, and house special Lo Mein can offer a brand-new culinary experience.

These Lo Mein recipes are often unique to that one restaurant. Since Lo Mein is a very flexible dish, the ingredients used in house specials are going to vary widely. One thing that’s common among all house special Lo Mein recipes is the use of many different meats.

Whereas shrimp Lo Mein might only use shrimp, a house special Lo Mein at the same restaurant might include shrimp, oysters, and lobster all in one. It all depends on which meats the cooks decide to use together!

Shrimp in a white bowl.

What Kind of Noodles Are Used For Lo Mein?

Typically, a wheat based egg noodle is used for Lo Mein. You can easily find noodles labeled ‘Lo Mein Noodles’ in your average American supermarket that are probably priced much higher than pasta.

Yes, you can use pasta. Good pasta choices include fettuccine, tagliatelle, pappardelle, bucatini, linguine and even spaghetti. These pastas are wheat based and have egg. They have that nice, chewy texture that ‘Lo Mein’ noodles have and chances are, you have some of these pastas in your pantry right now.

Typical ingredients for Chow Mein & Lo Mein

Lo Mein Sauce

The sauce is up to you. If you shy away from making your own sauces you can buy pre-made Asian stir-fry sauce in your local market.

If you are more adventurous, make your own. Below are some common ingredients in Lo Mein or any stir-frys, not just Chinese dishes.

Just pick 2-6 ingredients and mix together. You will want a total of 1-2 tablespoons of sauce per person that you are cooking for. Be careful of the salty* ingredients, you may want to just stick to one or two of those ingredients.

  • soy sauce*
  • fish sauce*
  • Hoisin sauce*
  • Oyster sauce*
  • honey
  • sugar
  • ginger
  • vinegar – white, rice, white wine, apple cider or any of the lighter colored vinegars
  • citrus juice and zest – lime, lemon, orange, grapefruit
  • sambal – hot pepper paste
  • Gochujang – Korean hot pepper paste
  • Plum sauce – a sweet sauce
  • miso paste* – fermented bean paste, umami in a jar
  • Teriyaki sauce*
  • sesame oil

Todays Weeknight House Special Lo Mein Version

Veggies on a cutting board.

This version is a clean out your fridge and pantry recipe that can be on the kitchen table fast. This version uses up leftover veggies in your fridge and pasta and Asian condiments you have lingering around. You can also throw leftover meat in there from other dishes such as rotisserie chicken, lunch meat and brisket.

If you don’t have leftovers, no worries. Just grab some of your favorite veggies at the supermarket and some meat of your choice. Meat that is already cooked is the easiest but you can buy raw meat too. It will require the extra step of slicing it thin or cutting into bite-sized pieces but should cook really quick in a hot skillet.

First Step

Cook your noodles until al dente, or just before it is finished. Just shave off two minutes of cooking time so that the noodles or pasta can finish cooking in the skillet. Drain the noodles and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Set aside.

While the noodles are cooking, raid your fridge of veggies and meat. Chop and dice these and set aside.

Second Step

Make your sauce. Using the list above mix a few ingredients for your sauce. If you are using a pre-made sauce such as Hoisin, just add one or two more ingredients such as an acid (vinegar or citrus) and a sweetener. Set aside.

Third Step

Heat up a large skillet with some cooking oil in it over medium high heat. Add your most dense veggies first, typically onions, carrots, broccoli and stir frequently. Cook for a few minutes until they start to soften. Add the rest of your veggies along with garlic and ginger if using. Stir frequently. Set aside in a large bowl.

Add the meat to your skillet until heated or cooked through, add the veggies back, noodles and pour the sauce over the entire dish. Toss for one or two minutes. Serve immediately.

House Special Lo Mein

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House Special Lo Mein

House Special Lo Mein Recipe

Yield: 6
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

House Special Lo Mein is an easy recipe that will get dinner on the table fast. Using leftover vegetables, parboiled noodles and meat, this stir fry comes together in no time. Forget takeout, make some Lo Mein.

Ingredients

  • 12 oz Lo Mein noodles (may substitute linguine, spaghetti or fettuccine)
  • 3 Tbs cooking oil
  • 6 cups of fresh vegetables (see note*)
  • 1 Tbs ginger, minced
  • 2 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1 lb of shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 1/2 lb of cooked chicken
  • 1/2 cup of Asian sauce (stir fry sauce, Lo Mein sauce, Hoisin sauce, Oyster sauce, see note*)

Optional Garnishes

  • cilantro
  • scallions
  • peanuts or cashews
  • sesame oil
  • chili oil or Sriracha
  • lime wedges

Instructions

  1. Cook Lo Mein noodles according to package directions. If using pasta, cook until al dente, or almost cooked fully.
  2. While the noodles are cooking, chop, dice and slice your vegetables into small pieces or slices. Set aside.
  3. Set aside your cooked meat and sauce.
  4. When noodles are done, strain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking, set aside.
  5. In a large cast iron skillet or other large pan, heat oil over medium high heat until it starts to shimmer or smoke. Add your densest vegetables first such at onions, carrots and broccoli. Stir frequently until veggies start to soften. Add the remaining vegetables, garlic and ginger. Stir frequently until veggies are cooked al dente. Empty onto a serving platter.
  6. Add a little more oil to the skillet and add the meat. Heat up the meat and stir constantly for one minute. Add the noodles and the sauce, tossing for two more minutes. Pile onto the serving platter and gently toss. Garnish liberally and serve immediately.

Notes

  • I like to use leftover vegetables in my fridge but if you don't have any leftovers pick up some veggies at the market. Good ones for this type of stir fry are pre-julienned carrots, onion, broccoli, green beans, sweet peppers, any type of cabbage including pre-shredded slaw mix, or pre shredded Asian salad mix.
  • You can buy pre-made Lo Mein sauce, this is very convenient. You could also make your own if you have some random Asian ingredients. Refer to the list in the article above for some ideas.
  • I used shrimp I had in my freezer and chicken deli meat that was thickly sliced. This was very convenient. You can use raw meat, just be sure to slice thin and cook through. Preparing raw meat adds some time. Leftover rotisserie chiken, brisket or roast beef is perfect for this dish.
  • This recipe is very versatile, easy and can help you clean out your fridge of leftovers. Be sure to add this to your regular rotation.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 483Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 195mgSodium: 1173mgCarbohydrates: 40gFiber: 10gSugar: 9gProtein: 35g

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bianca is a graduate student at the University of Cincinnati. She is an Applied Behavioral Health Technician and a freelance writer. She spends her free time catching up with friends and scaling walls at indoor rock gyms.

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