There are some bonds in this world that cannot be broken. A child and his first pet, a mother and her infant, or in my case, a girl and her Chinese food. In college I had a roommate whose mother made the most spectacular lo mein. And we ate plenty of it our freshman year, mostly because it would come in multiple large containers and took up most of the space in our fridge.
Lo mein makes me nostalgic for college — the late-night dance parties, laughing with friends until 4 a.m., writing papers and guzzling caffeine. Thinking back on how often we ordered lo mein (after we finished devouring the homemade lo mein), I’m surprised that I didn’t have to take out a loan just to pay for my take-out bill. Now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure my paychecks from my campus job bankrolled my lo mein obsession.
It’s been a few years since college, and my old roommate doesn’t exactly live in the area, so I’ve had to live with subpar cartons of lo mein since then. But after scouring the Internet and getting really confused about where to find “green onions” (scallions) in my local grocery store, I have managed to make lo mein that could hold its own against the giant tub my roommate used to keep in our mini fridge.
With lo mein, of course you can pretty much throw in whatever vegetables and proteins your heart desires. As my culinary skills are incredibly limited (I often Google cooking terms like julienne), I decided to stick with vegetable lo mein so I could focus on making sure my sauce was just right. You can use whatever vegetables you want. Feel free to add baby corn, bok choy or whatever vegetables your heart desires to this dish — within reason. (I don’t recommend throwing in Brussels sprouts.) For those who are about the protein life, you can always add chicken, pork, beef, or shrimp for additional flavor.
I discovered that making lo mein is actually pretty easy. It only took me 20 minutes to do everything. My mind was blown by how easy it was. Now instead of ringing up my favorite Chinese restaurant when I get a hankering for lo mein (or for the lo mein of my college days), I can just fire up my stove.
And yes, it still tastes good when you eat the leftovers a few days later for lunch.
Vegetable lo mein
1 pound pasta (spaghetti or ramen)
3 tablespoons sesame oil
2 cups carrots
2 cups mushrooms
2 cups broccoli
2 cups peppers
3 tablespoons mirin
9 tablespoons soy sauce
3 teaspoons sesame oil
3 teaspoons sugar
Boil the pasta in a pot. While the pasta cooks, pour the sesame oil in a skillet and add the diced scallions. After a minute add the vegetables and stir fry on medium heat until they’re tender. Add the mirin to the skillet to loosen the browned bits from the pan and stir in the drained pasta. Turn off the heat, stir in the sauce to taste, and serve.