Underwrite Your Life

Lo Mein

This week I decided to try my hand at making an American-style Chinese dish: Veggie Lo Mein. Light on the veggies, of course.

At this point I feel like it’s important to tell you that I came into this recipe feeling very confident. I lived in China for 4 years, I know my Chinese flavors, and stir-fried noodles are virtually impossible to mess up. Therefore, I don’t know why red-flags weren’t going off in my head the moment I read this recipe and decided to make it.

The recipe calls for the use of sesame oil and mirin, two Japanese ingredients I always intended on stocking up on but never had a reason to buy. This seemed like the perfect excuse! I assumed they would go well with some soy sauce and sugar to make a nice lo mein sauce. And don’t get me wrong, it did taste good, but the sesame oil is STRONG. I only added 1 teaspoon and the flavor was honestly overwhelming.

At first this made me nervous, however, when I reheated this meal on Monday it was amazing how much the flavor had dulled. Granted, I did cut it with some Chinese rice vinegar when heating it up, but either way it tasted pretty good. I’d say 6/10, I’d make it again but only if I already had the ingredients. Click here to read more about how the Lo Mein was over the course of the week.

Lo Mein Ingredients and Final Product
75% Carbs
8% Fat

Ingredients Amount Cost (USD) Protein (g) Carbs (g) Fat (g) Calories (kcal)
Ronzoli Whole Grain Thin Spaghetti 16 oz $1.79 72g 312g 12g 1440 cal
Red Bell Peppers 1 pepper $0.99 1g 8g 0g 37 cal
Carrots 7 carrot $0.78 4g 41g 1g 175 cal
Green Onion 3 green onion $0.26 3g 6g 0g 15 cal
Fresh Garlic 3 clove $0.10 1g 3g 0g 12 cal
Salt 3 tsp $0.04 0g 0g 0g 0 cal
Pepper 3 tsp $0.08 0g 0g 0g 3 cal
Brown Sugar 6 tsp $0.16 0g 18g 0g 90 cal
Vegetable Oil 2 tbsp $0.10 0g 0g 27g 260 cal
Soy Sauce 6 tbsp $1.20 6g 6g 0g 90 cal
Mirin 1 tbsp $0.20 0g 9g 0g 35 cal
Sesame Oil 0.3 tbsp $0.11 0g 0g 4g 39 cal
Frozen Chopped Spinach 1 cup $0.25 2g 3g 0g 20 cal
Total - - $6.06 89g 406g 44g 2216 cal
Total/Meal — — $1.21 18g 81g 9g 443 cal

This made 5 servings of Lo Mein of ~1.5 cups each.

Step 1

The first step is to go ahead and cook your noodles until they are about 3/4ths of the way cooked. Its no big deal if you cook them all the way through, however, we are going to stir-fry them later so its good to keep them a little undercooked to ensure they are al-dente in the final product. You can cook according to your individual noodles, but I just grabbed some whole wheat spaghetti (in my opinion, whole wheat noodles hold up better throughout the week versus alternatives), and boiled it for about 6 minutes.

While the noodles are boiling you can go ahead and chop your veggies and garlic. I intended to add onion to this recipe but it completely slipped my mind while I was at the store, so I only added one red bell pepper and pre-chopped carrots. I definitely recommend adding more veggies of your choice.

When your noodles are cooked, drain them and set them aside for later.

Boiling Noodles, Chopped Ingredients, and Cooked Noodles

Step 2

Next, warm up a big pan over high heat. Add your oil and garlic, sauté for 1 minute, then add your veggies. Take note of the cooking time for each of your veggies. For example, peppers and mushrooms take longer to cook than tomatoes.

Once your veggies are added, sauté them until they are soft and just “under cooked” compared to the style you prefer.

After adding garlic and the red pepper, carrots, and these ingredients partly cooked

Step 3

While your veggies are cooking, go ahead and make your sauce in a small bowl. I added the sugar, mirin, sesame oil, and soy sauce and gave it a quick stir to make sure the sugar was fully incorporated.

Lo Mein Sauce

Step 4

At this point, if you have any ingredients that won’t need a ton of cooking, go ahead and add them. For my recipe, this meant adding some frozen chopped spinach I had left-over in my freezer. I knew that all I needed to do was warm the spinach up and mix it into the other ingredients before it would be ready to eat.

It took about 2-3 minutes of sautéing for the spinach to fully melt and combine.

Frozen and Incorporated Spinach

Step 5

After all your ingredients are cooked and mixed, go ahead and add your noodles to the pan and pour your sauce over the top. You may need to transfer your ingredients to a larger pot in order ensure the noodles are fully coated!

Once they are mixed, stir-fry until the noodles are cooked through. You can taste a bit now and tweak the noodle dressing to your preferences. I added a bit of Chinese rice vinegar but only because I have a weak spot for the stuff.

The Lo Mein after adding and mixing the noodles

I ended up serving these alongside some cheesy potatoes as a dinner for my Week 7 Meal Prep.

Finished Lo Mein