During my first few years as a vegetarian, I was always at a loss as to what to order when dining in restaurants. Most American fare back then wasn’t as vegetarian friendly as it is now. I hadn’t eaten a lot of Chinese food growing up, but that quickly changed, and vegetable lo mein became my dish of choice. Between the squishy noodles, crispy veggies and savory-sweet sauce, I was fully satisfied and in veggie heaven.
It’s kind of surprising that it took me so long to cook up a classic lo mein in my kitchen, after having ordered the dish at a billion or so restaurants throughout my teens and twenties. Over the years I’ve created a few lo mein-inspired dishes, but this is the first time I tried to replicate my old restaurant favorite.
I quickly realized that lo mein presented a new challenge to vegans in particular, that being the fact that most lo mein noodles contain egg. Fortunately, I did find a couple egg-free brands. For this recipe, I used Roland brand noodles, which are vegan and a pretty close approximation to what I’d been served in restaurants. Ka-Me is another vegan brand you might want to try out. If you absolutely can’t find vegan lo mein noodles, fear not – I tried this recipe out with regular old wheat spaghetti noodles too, and found them to be totally passable for lo mein noodles.
Once you’ve got the noodle issue addressed, the recipe comes together in a cinch. Start by cooking up some crispy pan-fried tofu to give the meal some protein and staying power. Next, stir-fry some veggies with garlic and ginger. I went with shiitake mushrooms, snow peas, carrots and a red bell pepper, but feel free to substitute your favorites. Finally, add your noodles and a simple dressing made from soy-based sauce, toss until it’s hot, and serve everything up. You might never bother with takeout again.
For the lo mein sauce:
For the pan-fried tofu:
For the vegetable lo mein:
Make the lo mein sauce:
Make the pan-fried tofu:
Make the vegetable lo mein:
If you want to keep this vegan, make sure to check the ingredients on your lo mein noodle package. Roland and Ka-Me brands are both vegan and available in supermarkets. If you can't find vegan lo mein noodles, spaghetti works as a substitute. Just boil pasta until fully cooked (not al dente), since spaghetti tends to be a bit firmer than lo mein noodles.
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