Saturday, January 26, 2008

Lo Mein

4 or more servings

BEEF LO MEIN (See below for Chicken/Shrimp Lo Mein and, my favorite, Veggie Lo Mein - photos at left and below)

The Lo Mein with Beef recipe is adapted from The Chinese Cookbook by Craig Claiborne and Virginia Lee. They point out “The word mein means noodles, and lo has been translated as ‘mixed'. These noodles are mixed with beef and cabbage.” This beef dish serves 4 as a main course, more if served with other dishes or especially in the case of the vegetable lo mein, more if more vegetables are added. I don't know why this recipe lists chives as optional. I use small scallions rather than chives and think they are essential to the dish.

NOTE: While this recipe calls for cooking the pasta ahead and rinsing with cold water. I usually cook the pasta while I am cooking the meat/veggies, then drain the pasta well and add while still hot to the meat/veggie mixture. I then "cook" just long enough to mix the veggies thoroughly and coat the pasta with the sauce. Recently I have started using whole wheat spaghetti.

1/2 pound fresh Chinese noodles [thin spaghetti works too]

3 large dried black mushrooms [I often substitute fresh crimini/button mushrooms]
[If using dried mushrooms] Place the mushrooms in a bowl and add boiling water to cover. Let stand 15 to 30 minutes or longer, then drain and squeeze them to extract most of their moisture. Cut off and discard the tough stems.

3/4 pound flank steak
1 to 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 ½ teaspoons sesame oil
1 cup canola oil [I use just 2-4 T oil]
½ cup shredded bamboo shoots [I usually omit]

½ cup any kind of cabbage-celery, Chinese or plain-cut into crosswise
shreds

½ teaspoon sugar (optional.)
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon light soy*
½ cup chicken broth
1 ½ teaspoons dark soy sauce*

[*to simplify I use 1 1/2 - 2 T soy/tamari sauce]

½ cup chives (preferably Chinese chives) cut into 2-inch lengths (optional)
[ See note above, do not omit, use small scallions and a minimum of  ½
cup, in this case more is better]

3 cups bean sprouts, rinsed and drained

Drop the noodles into a large quantity of boiling water - at least 2 quarts - and cook according to directions on package until tender. Do not overcook. Drain and rinse well under cold water. Set aside. [To use noodles hot, delay cooking so noodles and meat/veggie mixture are done at approximately the same time.]

Place the meat on a flat surface and cut it across the grain into the thinnest possible slices. [It is easier to do this if the meat is partially frozen.] Place the slices in a bowl and add the oyster sauce, pepper, and 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil.

In a wok or skillet, heat the 1 cup oil [I use a few T] , and when it is warm, not hot, add the beef and cook, stirring constantly, about 1 minute. (If the oil is hot, the meat will stick together in a lump). Drain the beef, in a sieve-lined bowl to catch the drippings and drain off all but 2 T of the oil in the pan. [For less fat do not save drippings, discard all oil and start with fresh oil for next step]

Heat the oil remaining [2 T unused oil] in the pan to almost smoking, then add the bamboo shoots and, mushrooms [and white part of scallions, cut diagonally into 1/2" pieces] and cook, stirring, over high heat about 15 seconds. Add the cabbage, sugar, and salt. Cook, stirring, about 1 minute, then scoop out and reserve the solids.

Add the drippings and oil from the beef to the pan. [I do not add drippings] There should be about 2 T  of oil; add some if necessary. Turn the heat to high, and when hot add the noodles. Cook, stirring, about 20 seconds. Add the light soy sauce, bamboo shoots, and mushrooms.. Cook about 15 seconds, stirring, and add the chicken broth and dark soy sauce. Cook, stirring, about 8 minutes, then add the chives [green parts of scallions, sliced diagonally into 3/4' lengths] if  used, bean sprouts, and beef. Cook, stirring, about 2 minutes.

Add the remaining sesame oil, toss to blend, and serve hot.


CHICKEN/SHRIMP LO MEIN

Use Beef Lo Mein recipe and substitute thinly sliced raw chicken (cook ~4 minutes until the chicken has lost all pinkness) or raw shrimp (cook ~4 minutes until pink and firm) for beef and dry sherry for oyster sauce.  Or add chicken/shrimp to Veggie Lo Mein recipe.


VEGGIE LO MEIN

This is my favorite.

This is almost an "anything-goes" veggie wise (just don't omit the scallions!). Use veggies that are in season and on-hand. Last night I made a delicious version omitting the sweet onion, cabbage, and bean sprouts but adding some red,orange and yellow peppers. Especially if you are making this dish for just a couple of people, a few veggies (carrots, mushrooms. scallions and bok choy) work very well.

Heat in wok:

1-2 T sesame oil (or if you like this dish really hot, substitute chili sesame oil for some/all of the oil)

Add and sautee:

1 T ginger, grated
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

until slightly browned then add:

2 carrots cut in thin julienne strips
1/2 sweet onion cut in thin slices
1/4 pound crimini/button mushrooms, sliced
1/2 c assorted sweet peppers, thinly sliced
White parts of 6-8 scallions, cut diagonally into 1/2" pieces

and sautee about 3 minutes, then add:

2 cups napa/Chinese cabbage or bok choy, thinly sliced
2 cups bean sprouts

stir to coat with oil and then immediately add

1 1/2 to 2 T tamari to taste
1 T dry sherry
1/2 c chicken or vegetable stock
1 1/2 t sesame chili oil (adjust amount to taste - or just serve as a side with dish)

sautee 2-3 minutes then add:

1/2 pound cooked Chinese noodles or spaghetti (hot, but well drained)
1 t fresh ginger, grated
1 T fresh coriander, chopped

Cook 1-2 minutes until well mixed. Serve immediately.








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