Vegetable Lo Mein (蔬菜捞麺)

Ready in under 30 minutes, this deliciously festive noodle dish is also an omen of good health and longevity.

Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
Yields
4 servings

A Recipe by Daddy Lau

My dad's been cooking Chinese food for over 50 years - as a kid fending for himself in Guangzhou, as the head chef of his own restaurant, and as a loving father in our home.

Hopefully, by learning this recipe, you'll get to experience some of the delicious joy we felt growing up eating his food!

- Randy

My dad recently turned 75, and in typical Daddy Lau fashion, he went ALL OUT for his birthday feast.

As he usually does, he decided to include vegetable lo mein in his epic 12 course feast.

I've had some variation of this dish at almost every Chinese birthday celebration or banquet I've ever been to.

A Symbol of Longevity

In Chinese tradition, noodles are a symbol of longevity, and it’s typical to celebrate birthdays, weddings, and big life milestones with noodles. The connection is simple - noodles are long, so they’ve become a metaphor for a long life, a long marriage, and longevity. 

A Brief History of the Noodle

Noodles have been a staple of Chinese cuisine for thousands of years.

The first written record of noodles appeared about 2000 years ago in a book written during the Han Dynasty, and in 2005, archaeologists unearthed a fully preserved 4000 year old bowl of noodles in northwestern China.

This marks the earliest empirical evidence of noodles to date.

It's still debated as to which culture or region started incorporating noodles into their diet first. (Was it the Italians? The Arabs? The Chinese?)

Finding a 4000 year old bowl of noodles in China makes a pretty strong case that the Chinese invented it first.

For a great write up and further reading, check out National Geographic's article.

Lo Mein vs Chow Mein

The word “lo mein” translates to “stirred noodles”, referring to the way it’s made. Even though it’s often confused with “chow mein”, or“stir-fried noodles”, they’re actually very different in how they’re cooked and how they taste.

The main difference is that lo mein is typically thickened with cornstarch, whereas chow mein is not. 

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Before we dive into the recipe, I just wanted to take a second to wish my dad a happy, happy birthday.

This recipe / video will always be one of my favorites, because I was able to capture so many sweet and sentimental moments with my family. One for the ages!

If you want in on the wholesome fun, I highly recommend watching our full YouTube video.

Ingredients

Weight: US
oz
g
Volume: US
cup
mL
Servings
4
    Main Ingredients
  • 10 oz fresh egg noodle
  • 3.5 oz fresh shiitake mushroom
  • 3 oz enoki mushroom
  • 2 oz king oyster mushroom
  • 1.5 oz carrot
  • 2.5 oz broccoli
  • 2.5 oz celery
  • 2 oz red bell pepper
  • 3 oz bean sprouts
  • 1 piece green onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 cup boiled water (

    for cooking noodles in wok

    )
  • Flavors
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 3 tbsp water (

    for cornstarch

    )
  • 0.50 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 0.50 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp sesame oil

On Noodles + Mushrooms

Just to highlight a few key ingredients, we’re using three different types of mushrooms: shiitake, enoki, and king oyster.

As for noodles, there are a lot of different types out there, but we’re using fresh egg noodles.

Since we're fortunate to live close to a 99 Ranch (or is it Ranch 99?), these ingredients are pretty easy to find. If you don’t live near one, most Asian grocery stores carry these items.

My dad loves to use mushrooms for vegetarian dishes as a substitute for meat, but feel free to get creative about the vegetables and ingredients you use for your lo mein.

Finding Asian Ingredients

Some of these ingredients are hard to find in a typical grocery store.

If you don't live near an Asian market, most or all of what my dad uses in this recipe can be found on Amazon:

I've also included some other Chinese kitchen essentials, used in many of my dad's other recipes.

These links are affiliate links, which means that if you use our links to purchase these ingredients, Amazon pays my family a small amount for the sale - at no extra cost to you. If you use these links, we really appreciate the support!

Other Supplies + Tools

You'll need a good wok, which provides a ton of versatility for the classic Chinese cooking methods: steaming, stir frying, deep frying, and etc.

You might want a food scale. It's not absolutely necessary for this recipe, but helpful if you want to get your proportions right.

Achieving Wok Hei

Wok Hei (鑊氣) is an important principle in the art of Chinese and Cantonese cooking.

It has many translations and meanings depending on who you ask, but my favorite is "The Breath of the Wok", where the wok imbues its energy into the stir fry to create an unforgettable meal.

The Cantonese word “hei 氣” is more commonly known by its Mandarin pronunciation, “chi" or "qi", the vital life force that runs through our body.

The science behind Wok Hei centers around the reactions that occur between sugars, oils, extreme heat, and rapid evaporation, which creates a fleeting, prized smoky essence that only lasts for a few minutes after cooking. 

Although not impossible, it can be harder to achieve Wok Hei at home, since our stoves generally don't pack as much power as a commercial kitchen or the roaring flames that are a sight to see in Asian street food markets.

Some great resources:

  • Kenji López-Alt, a popular science-based chef and author, recently posted a great write up on the New York Times about the elements of Wok Hei
    • Kenji also created his own version of Lo Mein noodles, replicating Wok Hei with a blow torch at home. Check out his video!
  • Read Grace Young's award-winning book "The Breath of a Wok", which chronicles the rich legacy of the Chinese wok as told by artisans, chefs, and experts alike.

(We're not affiliated with Grace or Kenji, just thought they'd be great resources for you to have!)

Cooking our fresh egg noodles (10 oz) should take about 10 minutes in total. There's a lot of waiting involved, so we'll be doing this in tandem with chopping our veggies and mushrooms.

  • Set your stove on high heat, and boil at least 4 cups of water in a pot. The amount doesn't need to be exact, as long as it's enough to eventually submerge your noodles.
  • When the water is boiling, add the noodles to the pot and stir constantly for 30-60 seconds to prevent the noodles from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Cover the pot, and wait for it to boil again (about 3 minutes).
  • When the noodles are boiling, remove the lid, set the stove to a simmer, and stir the noodles for about 30 seconds. Cover the pot again, and cook for another 5 minutes.
  • Once the noodles are done, drain the pot into a colander, and rinse the noodles in cold water for 10-15 seconds.

In a bowl of water, gently scrub all of our mushrooms and veggies to wash away the dirt and impurities.

For our enoki mushrooms (3 oz), we'll chop off the roots before we wash them. All we need to do prepare is separate them from one another.

We'll chop our shiitake mushrooms (3.5 oz), king oyster mushrooms (2 oz), carrots (1.5 oz), broccoli (2.5 oz), celery (2.5 oz), red bell pepper (2 oz), green onion (1 piece), and garlic (1 clove).

For most of these, my dad is cutting them into slices. Refer to the video to see exactly how he does it.

Set the stove to its highest heat, and let the wok heat up for 2-5 minutes (depending on the strength of your stove). It should just start to let off a bit of smoke, and we should be able to feel the heat holding our palm 2-3 inches above the surface.

When it's hot enough, add vegetable oil (2 tbsp), and swirl it around the wok.

This step is important to help us get closer to that Wok Hei essence. If our wok isn't hot enough, the dish won't turn out as flavorful. My dad says it's almost like you'd be boiling your food.

If you want to save a bit of time while you wait, you can start boiling water (1 cup) for later.

Add the garlic, and cook for about 20-30 seconds until you start to smell the garlic's aromas.

Then, add the vegetables and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes.

Add boiled water (1 cup)​ to the wok, and cover for 2-3 minutes until it starts boiling again. While we wait, we'll mix cornstarch (1 tbsp) and water (3 tbsp) into a slurry.

This step is one of the things that differentiates lo mein from chow mein. For chow mein, we don't need to do this at all. For lo mein, the cornstarch helps tie all of the flavors together, and gives the dish a slightly creamier texture.

Uncover the wok, and add light soy sauce (0.50 tbsp), dark soy sauce (0.50 tbsp), oyster sauce (1 tbsp), sugar (1 tsp), and salt (1 tsp) into the wok.

As we explain in our Shrimp Chow Fun recipe, the dark soy sauce gives noodles a slightly darker color, as well as a subtly different taste profile.

Stir the flavors around with the vegetables for a few seconds, then add the noodles.

Cover the wok for about 3 minutes, just until it's about to boil again.

Stir the cornstarch slurry for a few seconds, and slowly pour it into the wok. Mix everything together as we let the noodles cook for another 60 seconds.

This step is what differentiates my dad's lo mein recipe from a lot of other chefs, who would typically add the cornstarch to the vegetables before adding the noodles.

By letting the noodles stew in the juices and flavors for a few minutes, we're essentially marinating the noodles and allowing the noodles to absorb more of the flavor internally. If you add cornstarch early, it acts as a thickener and binding agent that prevents the noodle from absorbing the flavors.

Add bean sprouts (3 oz), chopped green onions, and sesame oil (1 tsp). Stir everything around for 60-90 seconds.

We're ready to eat! Plate the noodles into your favorite dish and call your loved ones over.

Summary

Vegetable Lo Mein (蔬菜捞麺)
Ready in under 30 minutes, this deliciously festive noodle dish is also an omen of good health and longevity.
  • Prep Time: 15 min
  • Total Time: 30 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
    Main Ingredients
  • 10 oz fresh egg noodle
  • 3.5 oz fresh shiitake mushroom
  • 3 oz enoki mushroom
  • 2 oz king oyster mushroom
  • 1.5 oz carrot
  • 2.5 oz broccoli
  • 2.5 oz celery
  • 2 oz red bell pepper
  • 3 oz bean sprouts
  • 1 piece green onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 cup boiled water (

    for cooking noodles in wok

    )
  • Flavors
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 3 tbsp water (

    for cornstarch

    )
  • 0.50 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 0.50 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
Step 1 - Cook noodles↑ Jump to details

Cooking our fresh egg noodles should take about 10 minutes in total. There's a lot of waiting involved, so we'll be doing this in tandem with chopping our veggies and mushrooms.

  • Set your stove on high heat, and boil at least 4 cups of water in a pot. The amount doesn't need to be exact, as long as it's enough to eventually submerge your noodles.
  • When the water is boiling, add the noodles to the pot and stir constantly for 30-60 seconds to prevent the noodles from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Cover the pot, and wait for it to boil again (about 3 minutes).
  • When the noodles are boiling, remove the lid, set the stove to a simmer, and stir the noodles for about 30 seconds. Cover the pot again, and cook for another 5 minutes.
  • Once the noodles are done, drain the pot into a colander, and rinse the noodles in cold water for 10-15 seconds.

Step 2 - Wash vegetables & mushrooms↑ Jump to details

In a bowl of water, gently scrub all of our mushrooms and veggies to wash away the dirt and impurities.

For our enoki mushrooms (3 oz), we'll chop off the roots before we wash them. All we need to do prepare is separate them from one another.

Step 3 - Chop vegetables & mushrooms↑ Jump to details

We'll chop our shiitake mushrooms, king oyster mushrooms (2 oz), carrots (1.5 oz), broccoli (2.5 oz), celery (2.5 oz), red bell pepper (2 oz), green onion (1 piece), and garlic (1 clove).

For most of these, my dad is cutting them into slices. Refer to the video to see exactly how he does it.

Step 4 - Heat wok, add oil when hot↑ Jump to details

Set the stove to its highest heat, and let the wok heat up for 2-5 minutes (depending on the strength of your stove). When it's hot enough, add vegetable oil, and swirl it around the wok.

If you want to save a bit of time, you can start boiling water (1 cup) for later.

Step 5 - Cook garlic, vegetables↑ Jump to details

Add the garlic, and cook for about 20-30 seconds until you start to smell the garlic's aromas.

Then, add the vegetables and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes.

Step 6 - Add boiled water, cover wok, prepare slurry↑ Jump to details

Add boiled water (1 cup)​ to the wok, and cover for 2-3 minutes until it starts boiling again. While we wait, we'll mix cornstarch (1 tbsp) and water (3 tbsp) into a slurry.

Step 7 - Add flavors, noodles, cover wok↑ Jump to details

Uncover the wok, and add light soy sauce (0.50 tbsp), dark soy sauce (0.50 tbsp), oyster sauce (1 tbsp), sugar (1 tsp), and salt (1 tsp) into the wok.

As we explain in our Shrimp Chow Fun recipe, the dark soy sauce gives noodles a slightly darker color, as well as a subtly different taste profile.

Stir the flavors around with the vegetables for a few seconds, then add the noodles.

Cover the wok for about 3 minutes, just until it's about to boil again.

Step 8 - Add cornstarch slurry↑ Jump to details

Stir the cornstarch slurry for a few seconds, and slowly pour it into the wok.

This step is what differentiates my dad's lo mein recipe from a lot of other chefs, who would typically add the cornstarch to the vegetables before adding the noodles.

By letting the noodles stew in the juices and flavors for a few minutes, we're essentially marinating the noodles and allowing the noodles to absorb more of the flavor internally. If you add cornstarch early, it acts as a thickener and binding agent that prevents the noodle from absorbing the flavors.

Step 9 - Add bean sprouts, green onions, sesame oil↑ Jump to details

Add bean sprouts (3 oz), chopped green onions, and sesame oil (1 tsp). Stir everything around for 60-90 seconds.

Step 10 - Plate the noodles!↑ Jump to details

We're ready to eat! Plate the noodles into your favorite dish and call your loved ones over.

Step 11 - Take pictures
Whip out your camera (1). Begin taking photos (1,000,000). Pick your favorites!
Step 12 - Share and tag us on Instagram @madewithlau #madewithlau!
Did you have fun making this recipe? We'd love to see & hear about it. (Especially my dad. He would be THRILLED!)

Enjoy!

I have so many memories eating this dish growing up, especially during intimate birthday celebrations.

Now, hopefully, you can create your own memories with this dish with your loved ones.

Also, I cordially invite you to celebrate my dad's 75th birthday with us. There are a lot of heartfelt moments as well as a BIG SURPRISE for our family!

Cheers, and thanks for celebrating with us!

Feel free to comment below if you have any questions about the recipe.

Watch on YouTube

About Made With Lau

We started Made With Lau to honor and share the legacy of our wonderful parents, Jenny and Chung Sun Lau.

Our hope is that these posts give you (and our future generations) a glimpse into how great they are!