Copycat Chicken Lo Mein

chicken lo mein 1_small

My hoodlums kids have this routine when we eat lo mein from our local Chinese takeout joint. They hold a forkful of noodles high over their head and bellow “How ‘LO’ can you go?” while simultaneously doing a standstill limbo and trying to ingest the noodles without falling on their backs. It’s pretty funny and inevitably leads to noodles falling everywhere, including on their faces.

There came a point recently where I realized we’d been performing this “How ‘LO’ can you go?” spectacle pretty often, which made me wonder why were eating so much takeout. It occurred to me that these lo mein noodles were one of the only foods all three of my kids liked, and therefore made for an easy and complaint-free meal.

It also sickened me a little because I know how much salt and MSG is in that takeout. And while we’re not total health freaks over here (have you seen my dessert recipes?), we do try to follow the 80/20 ratio of healthy/not-so-healthy when we can. So I thought I’d learn to make the lo mein myself.

It took me three solid tries before I got it right. It turns out, for us, the secret is not in some fancy sauce with a lot of ingredients (which I tried), but about cooking the noodles in broth vs. water, and using that broth to flavor the sauce later on. It’s super easy, but adds a TON of flavor.

This has become a weekly staple in our house. We fight over the leftovers for lunch almost every day!

chicken lo mein 2_small

Copycat Chicken Lo Mein
You can change up the veggies according to your taste, but my kids really do like the bok choy in this, so try it once — the crunch and green color is worth it!

3 cups water
3 chicken bouillon cubes
8 ounces thin spaghetti noodles (I use the Barilla in the yellow box with added protein)
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 celery rib, thinly sliced
2 stalks bok choy, sliced
2 cups shredded cabbage (or bagged coleslaw mix)
3/4 cup shredded carrots
1⁄4 cup frozen green peas
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons cold water
1⁄4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 1/2 cups cooked chicken breast pieces (I use rotisserie)

Bring 3 cups water and bouillon cubes to a boil. Add spaghetti, breaking in half to submerge completely. Cook according to package directions for al dente. Drain well, RESERVING BROTH.

Add 2 tablespoons sesame oil to skillet or wok and saute onion, garlic, celery, cabbage, bok choy, carrot and peas until crispy tender (approximately 5 minutes) adding more oil if needed. Dissolve cornstarch in cold water. Add cornstarch liquid and one-half of reserved broth.

Stir in spaghetti noodles and chicken. Add remaining broth liquid. Add soy sauce and toss. On low heat cook just until noodles darken slightly.

Serves 4-6. (I almost always double it for lunch leftovers.)

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