My unrefined palate as a child didn’t appreciate how delicious Chinese food truly is. I would only ever order Veggie Lo Mein, and Sweet and Sour Chicken which we all know is basically just popcorn chicken with a dipping sauce. I’m a little ashamed to admit how picky I was as a kid. I missed out on so many years of good food. As I started to age into a teenager I started to be a bit of a more adventurous eater. This was the point that I fell in love with the local Chinese restaurant, and all of their offerings. This love has only grown as I’ve gotten to experience more restaurants with a greater variety of more authentic food.
No matter how many new Chinese dishes I try one of my favorites will always be Veggie Lo Mein. I don’t know if it’s because it offers the greasy umami perfection of a comfort food, or if it’s a safe and nostalgic memory of my childhood, but my love for Lo Mein is still going strong. Sadly, due to the fact that Lo Mein noodles contain egg, and most Lo Mein uses oyster sauce for flavoring I haven’t been able to get Lo Mein at any restaurant near me since I went vegetarian.
For the past four or five years I’ve been perfecting my own recipe for Veggie Lo Mein, because I refuse to let a few unnecessary animal products stand in the way of me and my comfort food cravings. It’s taken a long time, but I think I’ve gotten my recipe pretty close to the delicious, restaurant style greasy noodles that I loved so much as a kid. We sub Udon noodles in for Lo Mein noodles in this recipe. I guess that means it’s not technically Lo Mein, but you came here for noodles and not semantics, didn’t you?
We replaced not only the egg based noodles, but added in a splash of Lord Sandy’s vegan worcestershire sauce to replace the umami flavor of the oyster sauce. Be sure the brown sugar you use is vegan to make it a truly cruelty free dish. Some brown sugars are just granulated white sugar that uses animal bone char in the bleaching process, and then have molasses added to them. If you can’t find vegan brown sugar I recommend maple syrup. I use maple syrup as a sweetener in a lot of things, and it has a very similar level of sweetness as the coconut brown sugar we used in this recipe. Just make sure you buy real maple syrup, and not imitation. The imitation syrup is way too sweet for this recipe, or for any recipe really.
With the exception of the canned baby corns we used all fresh veggies for this recipe. We chose to use broccoli, mushrooms, carrots, and some green onion. Our choices relied heavily on what we had in the fridge this week. You can add more veggies or tofu if you’d like. Bok Choy, snow peas, and bean sprouts are all great additions to this dish.
Vegan Lo Mein
- splash of lime juice
- 1 tsp red chili flakes
- 1 tsp fresh or frozen ginger
- 2 large cloves of garlic
- 2 tbsp chopped green onion
- 1 tbsp vegan worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp corn starch
- 2 tbsp coconut brown sugar
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 3/4 cup tamari
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 4oz baby corn (1/2 of a standard sized can)
- 1 cup broccoli florets
- 1 large julienned carrot
- 4 oz thinly sliced baby bella mushrooms
- 5 oz Udon noodles
- Prep all of the vegetables starting with washing and drying. Slice down the mushrooms, julienne the carrot, cut the broccoli into bite sized florets, slice down the green onions, and mince the garlic and ginger. If you are using frozen ginger you don’t need to do anything to it.
- Set the mushrooms, carrot, and broccoli aside in a bowl. Add the desired amount of baby corn you’ll be using in your dish to the bowl.
- In a separate bowl make the sauce. Combine warm water, soy sauce, coconut brown sugar, worcestershire, splash of lime juice, red chili flake, garlic, ginger, and green onion. Whisk together.
- Prepare the Udon noodles according to the package directions, but with a few minutes to spare. You’ll want the noodles to be a little bit less done than al dente as you’ll be cooking them more in the sauce. If you bought precooked stir fry Udon noodles you can obviously skip this step.
- Turn the burner to low, and add the sauce to a large skillet or wok. If you do not have a wok we suggest cooking the food in two portions, so that everything cooks evenly and no noodles stick. Don’t worry about your food getting cold. Each portion only takes about five minutes to cook, and they’ll be piping hot for long after.
- Allow sauce to heat for one minute or until visible bubbles begin to form. While you are waiting combine the cornstarch with 1/4 cup of water in a small bowl.
- Whisk cornstarch into the sauce.
- Add the mushrooms and julienned carrot. Stir periodically.
- It should take the mushrooms about a minute or two to start to cook down. At this point you will add the other vegetables. Allow them to simmer for a minute or two to soak up some sauce.
- Add the Udon noodles to the sauce and veggies. Stir them around well, so they can absorb the sauce.
- Allow the noodles to cook until the sauce is no longer runny, and has nicely coated all components of the dish. Remove from heat immediately, so the noodles do not stick and burn.
- Serve and enjoy.