Skip takeout tonight, and make some flavor-packed lo mein for dinner, right in your kitchen!
This version of lo mein is loaded with a tasty variety of proteins and vegetables. It also uses less noodles per volume than most lo mein recipes, so you get heartier forkfuls (or chopstick-fuls, rather…) of vegetables, chicken, and shrimp.
Use our recipe and helpful tips and tricks to enjoy perfectly cooked lo mein with stir-fried chicken strips, shrimp, and lots of veggies – all seasoned with the wonderful flavors from both a marinade and a sauce.
Before heating up your wok, read our strategies below for the ultimate guide to making the best lo mein meal… no restaurant necessary!
Perfect Prep: The Secret to Quick and Awesome Chinese Meals
If there is a secret to making good Chinese meals at home, it is having everything ready before you start cooking. Prep time normally takes twice as long as cooking time.
While this recipe might read like it is a lot of prep work and cleanup, it’s not bad at all. And you’ll be so happy with the results!
You can save some time in the following ways:
Mise en Place
Prep your mise en place, by gathering all ingredients and tools, as the very first step of the cooking process.
Slice and Stir
While the noodles are cooking, you can slice the meat and prepare the marinade and sauce.
Using frozen mixed vegetables or frozen peeled and deveined shrimp saves time without compromising the final product too much.
Cleaning as you go saves time as well, and helps to avoid domestic strife!
Sauces, Spices, and Stocks: Get Authentic Chinese Flavor
Only a small arsenal of basic Chinese spices and sauces is needed for creating dishes with authentic flavor.
Soy sauce, ginger, and oyster sauce are absolute musts, in my opinion.
Many consider oyster sauce to be optional, but the flavor and aroma it adds really gives the impression that you know what you’re doing.
Add some rice vinegar (white vinegar works, too), pepper, and salt – then you are ready for a tasty meal!
Salt is not included in the sauce recipe, since the stock, soy, and oyster sauces are quite savory. Before adding the noodles, you can taste the sauce and add salt if desired.
Chicken stock is used the most commonly in lo mein sauces. When beef is an ingredient that appears in the dish (and you can most certainly substitute beef for the chicken in this recipe– it’s delicious!) beef stock is my personal preference, as it gives a slightly meatier flavor.
For a lighter flavored sauce, use chicken broth. Or, use less stock, replacing the missing volume with water.
Vegetables: Endless Options to Veggie-fy Your Stir-Fry
Part of the beauty of this recipe is that it is very flexible, particularly with what vegetables you decide to use.
Measurements in the recipe below are approximate, and can be adjusted based on what you have on hand.
You can use either fresh, frozen, or a combo of both.
If you decide to use all fresh vegetables, equal parts mushrooms, snow peas, and broccoli, plus some diced onion and water chestnuts, are a good mix.
Frozen veggies work in a pinch – you can finally use those long forgotten bags of mixed veggies in your freezer that you bought on sale months ago!
I normally cheat here a bit and use mainly frozen vegetables, but I recommend also adding some fresh snow peas and mushrooms to help you to hide this time-saving solution.
Oodles of Noodles: Other Options to Consider
The lo mein noodle, a long, soft noodle variety, may not be your favorite.
No worries– there are plenty of other options! Consider these two ideas below for your noodle of choice.
Crispy Chow Mein
If you prefer chow mein, which are crispy noodles, you can easily substitute that in the recipe.
Simply stir-fry half of the chow mein noodles in 2-3 tablespoons oil until golden brown and crispy, then remove to a separate plate or bowl lined with paper towels. Repeat with the remaining noodles.
After crisping the noodles, continue following the cooking directions as outlined in the recipe below.
Ramen: Rely on Your Favorite Standby
As long as you have a microwave, this one’s simple – switch to ramen noodles instead, ditch the flavoring packet (we provide all the flavor you need in the recipe), and nuke ’em.
Add them to the pan when you would add the lo mein noodles otherwise.
Small Space? Plenty of Room for Lo Mein!
Even with a small kitchen area like those found in motor homes or travel trailers, it is easy to make tasty Chinese meals like lo mein.
There are a few little tricks that make this recipe easy for small kitchens. Even a dorm resident with nothing more than an electric skillet and a mini fridge can make this dish.
Dorm-bound students will be stuck with using an electric skillet, if it’s allowed. Round electric skillets with higher sides work best, but the square or rectangular ones will work in a pinch.
If you don’t have enough storage space for a large selection of kitchen equipment, this dish can be made in a skillet instead of a wok. But I highly recommend that you get a wok if you have the space for storage, and if you don’t have one already.
Want to know more about cooking with a wok? Then check out our guide.
The nonstick woks are fine, but an old fashioned steel wok will become your cooking buddy once you learn how versatile it is, especially in smaller kitchens.
If you don’t have burner space and a big stock pot to cook the noodles, use your wok to cook them in.
Place your wok over high heat. Add 1 quart water, a teaspoon each of salt and oil, and then cover and bring to a boil. Add the noodles, cover, and cook for two minutes.
With two forks or chopsticks, separate the noodles to prevent clumping, cover, and cook for four more minutes. Remove the cover, separate the noodles again, and check for doneness. They should be soft but not mushy, or al dente, as the chefs would say.
Note that if you have an audience over for a dinner party, the chopsticks will have the added benefit of making you look cool. Very cool.
But seriously, they’re an excellent cooking utensil to have on hand, for stirring and separating ingredients.
Ready? Let’s Wok!
Now that we’ve outlined all of the advice you’ll need on how to make the most delicious Chinese meal, you’re ready to try our recipe for chicken and shrimp lo mein with assorted veggies.
Time to wok and roll!
Cooking by the Numbers…
Step 1 – Set out Your Mise en Place
Measure out the necessary amounts of Chinese egg noodles, vegetables, shrimp, cornstarch, soy sauce, oyster sauce, black pepper, rice wine vinegar, brown sugar, ginger, and chicken stock.
If you have not already, devein the shrimp. Not sure how? Check out our helpful guide to peeling and deveining shrimp!
Step 2 – Prepare the Vegetables
Wash the broccoli and cut it into bite-sized florets, discarding the stems or saving them for another use. Prep the mushrooms by removing the stems and cutting them into thin slices. Peel the onions and then slice them thinly.
Peel the ginger, and grate it for the sauce.
Step 3 – Marinate the Chicken
Combine the cornstarch, soy sauce, oyster sauce, black pepper, and rice wine vinegar in a large bowl. Mix well.
Trim away any fat with a paring knife as needed, and cut the chicken breast into thin, 3-inch-long strips.
Coat the chicken strips in the prepared marinade, massaging it in to coat each piece.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the meat soak for at least 25 minutes in the refrigerator.
Step 4 – Make the Sauce
For the sauce, combine the cornstarch, soy sauce, chicken stock, oyster sauce, brown sugar, grated ginger, and freshly ground black pepper. Mix well and set aside.
Step 5 – Cook the Noodles
While the chicken is soaking, cook the Chinese egg noodles according to the package instructions, or as outlined above.
Once the noodles are cooked, drain them immediately and rinse them under cold tap water in a colander to prevent them from cooking further.
Toss the noodles with a drizzle of vegetable oil to prevent them from clumping together, then set them aside.
Step 6 – Cook the Chicken
When the meat is done marinating, heat up your wok and coat the sides of with vegetable oil. If you do not have one, a large frying pan can also work – but a sturdy wok really is an excellent item to have on hand for making stir-fries.
Once the oil is heated to the point of smoking, add the meat and toss with a wooden spoon for a few minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken from the wok and set it aside.
Step 7 – Stir-fry the Vegetables
In the same wok, heat up a bit more oil and stir-fry the broccoli, onions, mushrooms, and carrots for about 5 to 8 minutes, or until the onions are translucent and the carrots and broccoli are crisp-tender.
Add ½ cup of water and cover the wok to let the vegetables steam for about 3 minutes. Remove from the pan and set the vegetables aside.
Step 8 – Deglaze and Cook the Shrimp
Bring ½ cup of water to a boil in the wok and use a wooden spoon to deglaze the pan. If it is not burned, you can save the liquid to add it to your sauce.
Otherwise, throw it away, rinse out the wok, and wipe it dry with paper towels.
Return the wok to the heat, add a bit of oil, and swirl to coat the sides. When the oil is hot to the point of smoking, add the shrimp.
Cook the shrimp fully on one side and allow them to turn pink before flipping to cook on the other side.
Step 9 – Combine Ingredients
Now it’s time to put all of your ingredients together.
Once the shrimp is cooked, return the chicken and vegetables to the wok and toss to combine.
Create a well in the middle of the chicken-veggie mixture and pour the sauce in, maintaining the well while stirring until it thickens.
Add the cooked noodles to the well and stir to combine. Make sure they are loosely distributed, not clumpy and sticking together.
Fold in the chicken and vegetables from the edges, toss to coat with the sauce, and serve immediately.
Ditch the Takeout Menu – Make Chinese at Home!
The next time you get a craving for Chinese, toss away the takeout menu. Make some authentic lo mein in your own kitchen!
As long as you follow our advice for the right equipment, ingredients, and prep strategies, making this meal will be so worth the effort.
You’ll soon enjoy a nice bowl of assorted veggies, chicken, shrimp, and tasty noodles – in whatever combination you decide to make tonight!
There is just one other very important consideration…
If you are the type of person who believes leftover cold Chinese food is far better than when you get it hot and fresh, you and I share the same food soul.
Cold lo mein ranks right up there with cold pizza as a late night munchie. You might consider making a bigger batch specifically to enjoy the cold leftovers.
Don’t neglect this delightful snacking opportunity!
Love stir-fry? Try my other recipe for Sriracha tofu, green bean, and carrot stir-fry, served over rice!
How else do you like to cook your lo mein? What other types of ingredients do you like to use? Let us know in the comments below!
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Photos by Felicia Lim, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally posted November 24, 2013. Revised and updated March 27, 2017 with additional writing and editing by Nikki Cervone and Felicia Lim.
*Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Lynne Jaques
Lynne is a stay-at-home mother of two boys. As a former US military officer and the spouse of an active duty US military member, Lynne enjoys traveling the world (although not the moving part!) and finding new cuisine and methods of preparing food. She also has the habit of using parenthesis way too much!