I went for a long time without really caring for Asian cuisine. I remember when I was a little girl I would order plain chicken wings when we went out to the Chinese restaurant. I don’t know if I ever really hated Chinese food, I just didn’t really want to eat much of it. I mean, I enjoyed munching on the Chinese fried noodles and dipping them in duck sauce. I even liked wonton soup but I just preferred for my “meal” to be these chicken wings. Then one day the chicken wings that I had been ordering for years made me sick and I was scared to ever order them again! I had to be brave and order something else. I remember that it was shrimp lo mein. And I loved it! Lo mein became a favorite of mine. Long, tender noodles in a slightly salty sauce, sometimes with sauteed veggies and some sort of thinly sliced, seared meat. Nom nom nom.
Somewhere along the line I stopped caring for Chinese food again though. Too many overly salty, overly soy-sauced orders of General Tso’s, greasy fried dumplings and even lo mein had marred my opinion of the cuisine. Which is entirely unfair because those things are an American approximation of true and good Chinese food I’m sure. Nevertheless, I would go years without wanting anything “Asian” (except for Pad Thai which I have always had a love affair with). Then last week I woke up and thought, “Huh, I really want Chinese food.” So Troy and I had take-out and that didn’t satisfy my appetite. I knew I had to try making some for myself.
So I decided to revisit lo mein. Not only was it one of my favorite dishes in the past, but it’s one of Troy’s favorites so it seemed perfect. I know you’re thinking, so why’d you make beef lo mein instead of shrimp since you said that was your favorite? Simple really: flank steak had a “reduced” sticker on it at the grocery store.
And you know me, I can’t leave well-enough alone so I had to make my own lo mein noodles. This wasn’t part of the original plan, I even bought dried Chinese noodles at the grocery store, but I figured it had been a while since I brought out the pasta machine. These noodles are delicious and contain egg, unlike the dried ones from the store, which adds a nice richness to this dish. The flavors in this dish won’t disappoint. The sauce doesn’t look like much but it is packed full of flavor. The combination of the cabbage, scallions and bean sprouts are nice supporting actors to the bold beef flavor of the flank steak. I would say that prep is the most time-consuming part of this process so it is best to have everything ready to go before you start cooking. Mind you mis en place! The dish comes together quite quickly once your get started. Delicious. I can’t wait for my leftovers at lunch tomorrow. 🙂
Beef Lo Mein
(Adapted from “Beef Lo Mein” from The Best International Recipe (from the editors of Cooks Illustrated))
- ¼ cup reduced sodium chicken broth
- 2 tbsp. oyster sauce
- 3 tbsp. soy sauce
- 2 tsp. cornstarch
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced or passed through a garlic press
- 2 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp. salt
- 12 ounces fresh Chinese noodles (or 8 ounces dried linguine in a pinch)
- 2 tbsp. toasted sesame oil
- 12 ounces flank steak, trimmed and sliced thin across the grain on the bias
- 12 scallions, white and green parts separated, both parts sliced on the bias into 1-inch lengths
- 1 small head napa cabbage, sliced crosswise into 1/8-inch strips (about 4 cups)
- 1 cup fresh bean sprouts
- Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot for the noodles
- Meanwhile, whisk together the chicken broth, oyster sauce, soy sauce and cornstarch in a small bowl
- In another small bowl mix the garlic with 1 tsp. of vegetable oil
- Stir the salt and noodles into the boiling water and cook, stirring constantly, until the noodles are just tender, about 2 minutes for fresh noodles
- Drain noodles and rinse under cold water. Toss with the sesame oil in a medium bowl and set aside
- Heat 1 tbsp. of vegetable oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until just smoking. Add the flank steak and cook until seared and almost cooked through, about 2 minutes
- Transfer steak to a medium bowl and reserve
- Add the remaining 1 tbsp. oil to the skilled and return to high heat. Add the scallion whites and cook for minute
- Add the cabbage and cook until softened slightly, about 1 minute
- Clear the center of the skillet, add the garlic mixture and cook, mashing the mixture into the pan, until fragrant, about 20 seconds
- Stir the garlic into the rest of the veggies in the pan
- Stir in the reserved noodles, beef (with any accumulated juices), scallion greens and bean sprouts
- Whisk to chicken broth mixture to recombine and add it to the skillet
- Cook, tossing the noodles constantly, until the sauce is thickened and the noodles are heated through, about 1 minute
- Serve immediately
If you want to try making your own noodles I’m included the recipe and instruction below! Just cook your pasta as described in the above recipe for the lo mein!
For more detailed instructions on how to knead, roll and cut your pasta please refer to my original pasta post.
Fresh Chinese Noodles
(Adapted from “Chinese Noodles” on http://www.coquinaria.nl/english/recipes/pasta2.html)
- 3-4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp. fine kosher or sea salt
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup water
- 1 tsp. Chinese sesame oil (toasted sesame oil)
- Make a heap of flour (start with 3 cups) on the worktop, with a hole in the middle. Pour the eggs and water in the hole. Add some flour of the ‘mountain’ to the ‘lava’ of the eggs, and stir lightly with the tines of a fork. Mix with one hand and gently hold the sides of the mound with your other hand to help prevent the eggs from running all over the counter. You could use a bowl and a spoon or whisk for the mixing if you prefer. Check the consistency of your dough (not too moist or dry). Dough should be slightly tacky but not overly sticky. Work in additional flour if needed.
- Knead the dough for at least ten minutes until you get a supple, somewhat elastic ball
- Wrap the dough in plastic wrap (of place in a bowl covered in plastic wrap) and let it rest for thirty minutes.
- Make pasta sheets with your machine as needed and cut as needed
- After making pasta sheets and BEFORE cutting, allow sheets to dry for at least 15 minutes or it will be too sticky when cutting