A Healthier Vegetable Lo Mein

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

For some reason, I had been having an intense craving for lo mein, that delicious dish of tossed noodles I hadn’t eaten in years. I don’t really do Chinese take-out and have never made it in my own kitchen until just a few weeks ago. Happily, the January issue of Food and Wine provided a recipe and I next thing you know I whipped up my own better-for-you version at home. It was wonderful post-run food, this steaming hot plate of noodles, and I was quite pleased with the results.

For the most part. (More later.)

Vegetable Lo Mein

Quite simple to prepare, really, and you can choose whatever selection of vegetables makes you smile. I aimed to use those that are traditionally included, hence this delightful mix of broccoli, shiitake mushrooms, julienned carrots, and onions; you’ll want 8-10 cups total, more or less. Do note that the stalks and leaves of broccoli are perfectly edible: avoid methane-producing food waste and toss them into the mix!

I sautéed the mushrooms, onions, and peppers first in a bit of peanut oil as these generally take the longest to cook.

While you are cooking your noodles al dente—I used spaghetti, whole grain, of course—make the sauce by whisking together 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce,1/2 c mirin (rice wine), 2 cloves of crushed garlic, 1 tablespoon minced ginger, and 4 teaspoons sesame oil. (For another variation, add in 2 teaspoons oyster sauce and 2 teaspoons agave nectar.) Throw the broccoli florets to the pan and sauté until crisp-tender, adding the leaves last, then add the noodles, cooking quickly over high heat to allow that glorious browning while tossing occasionally. Add the sauce and simmer while the sauce reduces a bit. Cook over high heat and toss occasionally, until some noodles are lightly browned.

Serve hot, cold, warm, however.

This recipe came out great but for one thing. Can you tell what it is?

Alas, all of my noodles broke into inch-long pieces while I was stirring it up. (Lo mein for babies?) Usually spaghetti stands in nicely for traditional Chinese egg noodles used in lo mein, but I used what I had on hand which didn’t quite work out as I had hoped.

You know that Chinese adage about how the length of the noodles is supposed to represent the length of your life?

Here’s hoping that’s not true.

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Dr. P. K. Newby is a nutrition scientist, speaker, and author with expertise in all things food, farm to fork, whether preventing obesity and other chronic diseases through diet or teaching planet-conscious eating. As a health expert and food personality, she brings together her passions for food, cooking, science, and sustainability to educate and inspire, helping people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time. Because healthy food shouldn’t suck.

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