Enjoy a big bowl of stir-fried noodles with tender steak and lots of vegetables, full of savory umami flavors. This American-Chinese style beef lo mein is ready in 30 minutes.
Before we get into today’s recipe, I’ll share some personal news. As regular readers may know, Jonathan and I got married last weekend. We had a couple minor hiccups like rain during our outdoor ceremony and my dress being too tight (no wardrobe malfunction – just uncomfortable), but overall the day went really well. I married my best friend, what more can I ask for?
It doesn’t feel like a big change since we’ve been living together for two years now, but it was still very exciting. Now we need to have patience as we wait for the pictures from our professional photographer. I just keep looking at the pictures my sister and some guests took on their phones to hold me over.
I am planning to recreate one of the dishes served to guests at the wedding and to post that recipe on the blog, hopefully soon. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll have seen this picture of our cake. Jonathan picked out the owl toppers.
During the busiest weeks of wedding planning, I made this beef lo mein four different times. The first time, Jonathan was in the mood for noodles. I looked at about a dozen lo mein recipes online, added some ingredients to my shopping list, and then sort of made up my own recipe, without measuring anything, as I cooked. We both liked it, and I thought, oh, I should make this for the blog.
I wrote down roughly what I did. The next three times I cooked this lo mein, I measured and recorded everything and took strict notes. Each time, I was planning to take photos to post. But each time, something came up, ranging from a swollen tick bite to an unexpected wedding issue, and I ended up just cooking it quickly without taking photos.
Last weekend, when I finally got these pictures, Jonathan was disappointed. He knew that meant I wouldn’t be making it again in the near future, since I don’t repeat recipes very often. I’ll have to file this one in the Favorites folder and make it for him again.
American Chinese take-out style lo mein is different from authentic Cantonese lo mein. In the American version, the dish is made with stir-fried noodles, some type of protein, and some kind of vegetables. You could substitute chicken, pork, shrimp, or tofu for the beef in this recipe. Most restaurant lo mein has only a small fraction of the vegetables I used. I packed in gai lan (aka Chinese broccoli), mushrooms, snow peas, and carrots.
Here’s a picture of the gai lan, or Chinese broccoli. If you eat Thai food, this is the kind of greens you typically see in pad see ew. I cut off the leaves and sliced them thinly, and I threw out the stems. The stems are edible. If you’d like to eat the stems too, I suggest slicing them thinly so they cook quickly. I used 4 cups of packed chopped gai lan leaves, which weighed about 5 ounces. You could substitute spinach, kale, or any leafy green vegetable if you don’t like or can’t find Chinese broccoli.
Here are some of the main ingredients. I used one and quarter pounds of sliced sirloin steak. Flank steak works well too. Also pictured are sliced cremini aka baby portabella mushrooms, the chopped gai lan leaves, some scallions hiding underneath the gai lan, snow peas, carrots, oyster sauce, and wide lo mein noodles.
I’m used to seeing lo mein made with skinnier egg noodles, more like spaghetti-shaped, than the wider, flat noodles I used. These were called wide lo mein noodles and made in Hong Kong. I chose to purchase these because they only have 1 mg of sodium per serving. Some of the other brands of lo mein noodles I saw had over 600 mg of sodium in a single serving. Jonathan is sensitive to salt. I’m not, but even I think those noodles are salty. You still get plenty of salt and flavor in this dish from the oyster sauce, so there’s no need to go overboard with salty noodles.
Here are all the vegetables in the wok. That’s way more vegetables than you get in take-out lo mein.
Note that the wok will be very full at the end, so I don’t recommend increasing the recipe size unless you have a huge wok or want to do two side-by-side.
The sauce doesn’t add a lot of color to the noodles, but every bite is packed with that rich umami taste from the oyster sauce and that just-slightly-oily fried noodle taste.
Right now the weather is too hot for a steaming bowl of noodles in soup or hotpot like Sukiyaki, but this 30-minute lo mein, lightened up with vegetables, gives you that same comfort feeling without heating up the house.
Beef Lo Mein
- 1 1/4 pound sirloin or flank steak, thinly sliced
- 5 tablespoons peanut or canola oil, divided
- 3 teaspoons corn starch, divided
- 1 tablespoon liquid egg white (about 1/2 large egg white)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 12 ounces lo mein noodles
- 2/3 cup beef broth
- 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 bunch scallions, cut into 2-inch pieces, white and green parts separated
- 1 carrot, cut into matchsticks
- 8 mushrooms, sliced
- 1 cup snow peas, cut in half the long way
- 4 cups packed chopped gai lan (Chinese broccoli) leaves or other leafy greens (about 5 ounces)
- Place the steak in a large bowl with 1 tablespoon oil, 2 teaspoons corn starch, egg white, and pepper. Mix thoroughly and leave to marinate for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cook lo mein noodles according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
- While noodles are cooking, make the sauce. Heat beef broth in microwave in a microwave safe measuring cup. Add oyster sauce, sugar, and remaining 1 teaspoon corn starch. Mix well until sugar is dissolved. Set aside.
- Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a wok over medium-high heat. Add beef and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring often, until browned. Remove beef from wok to a plate with tongs. Pour out and discard any excess marinade and oil left in the wok.
- Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in wok. Add the white parts of the scallions, carrot, and mushrooms to wok. Cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes. Add snow peas and cook 2 more minutes. Add gai lan and cook, stirring often, until wilted.
- Add cooked noodles, cooked beef, and green parts of scallions to the wok. Mix sauce thoroughly again and pour into wok right over the noodles. (This will help break up the noodles.)
- Cook 3-4 more minutes while constantly mixing to get all the ingredients and sauce mixed together.