Dragon Noodles – Low-Key Lo Mein
It’s Saturday again.
You know what that means?
Well, if you’re anything like me and so many others, it’ll mean some form of takeout for dinner tonight. Pizza is usually a popular choice, but one of my own personal favorites happens to be Chinese. There’s something to be said for spending a lazy, cold weekend night sitting at home with spread of sweet-n-sour noodles, steaming rice, stir fry veggies – you just can’t beat it.
Still, a shame you have to order out to get a taste of that delicious, American-ized bowl o’ MSG isn’t it?
Actually, you don’t.
Not anymore. Not if I have anything to say about it.
So dust off those chop sticks and strap on your apron, friends. We’ve got cookin’ to do!
One thing I’ve found while attempting to explore a wider range of home-cooking ventures is just how simple it really is to recreate most exotic dishes and recipes. Whenever I get the craving to try recreating a favorite meal from a foreign restaurant, I always anticipate a grocery run that’s going to require a full-on safari through the most obscure aisles and out-of-the-way shops to pick up specialty ingredients. Instead, I find that more often than not it’s pretty easy to pick up everything you need right at your local mega mart without too much hunting.
I’d almost call it disappointing.
In fact, it’s pretty damn nice. But I think you get my point.
Shockingly, home-cooked Chinese is no different.
I thought it might be nice to start off here with something simple.
Simple, but amazing.
Let’s try making some Dragon Noodles
*Gong chimes in the background*
Do not fear, Grasshopper. The Dragon is not so dangerous. She is quite easy to tame, as you will soon discover.
And no, before you ask, I’m not exactly sure just why this dish is called Dragon Noodles. My best guess is that it has something to do with the spicy tang of the sauce. Not fiery hot, but it has a pleasant kick if you mix it right. And don’t think that this sauce (which you’ll learn how to mix in just a minute) is limited to Dragon Noodles. No. Shame on you! Very few things, sauces least of all, are limited to only a handful of meals. The Dragon sauce is especially versatile once you start thinking outside the box. One of my favorite applications has nothing to do with Oriental dining at all – seasoning chicken wings for summer grilling.
This being a Lo Mein stir-fry dish, it’s also incredibly difficult to screw it up. Apart from the sauce (which is, admittedly, so easy to make you’ll be wondering why you weren’t making this years ago) and the noodles themselves, there really is no “wrong” way to make this dish. The blend of veggies you use, whether you want to add chicken or shrimp or tofu, serving it neat or with a side or rice, hell, even whether you choose to eat it with traditional chop sticks or a common dinner fork, whatever you decide is right because it’s what you want.
That’s the beauty of stir fry – it’s meant to be customized to whatever you’re in the mood for, an amalgamation of pieces and parts from the pantry and the back of the fridge. Most stir fry can be, and often is, assembled at home from scraps of leftovers that are either on their way out the door, or too minimal to be a full meal or side-dish on their own.
That’s not how I’ll be doing it today, of course. I want to show you how it’s done from fresh ingredients your first time. Once you get the hang of these basics, you can start tweaking and incorporating new ideas and experiments of your own. You might even be surprised by what you come up with.
This is one of those dishes I like to use as an emergency dinner go-to. Total cooking time is well under 15 minutes, making it pefect for those evenings when I’m feeling especially lazy and don’t feel like spending a lot of time and effort on dinner. And because of the hodgepodge nature that goes into assembling any good stir fry dish, it’s very rare that I find myself without anything to work with.
In fact, I’ve begun making it a habit to keep an extra pack of Lo Mein noodles in the pantry and a bag of diced, mixed veggies stored in the freezer door. With these two things on hand, the only limit to your stir fry experimentation is your own imagination. I know that, personally, this basic recipe has saved me many an evening and cleaned more than a few Tupperware bowls of leftovers from the dark corners of my refrigerator.
Now, enough blather. Let’s cook!
Your ingredient list is pretty simplistic: Root around through your pantry and vegetable crisper (or take a trip to the grocery store if you really have to) and gather up:
- Lo Mein Noodles (serving size is more or less up to you, though I do recommend checking the recommended size on the package)
- Assorted Chopped Vegetables (I went with snow peas, peppers, carrot, broccoli, and water chestnuts)
- 1 Egg
- ½ Tbs Brown Sugar
- ½ Tbs Sriracha Sauce
- ½ Tbs Soy Sauce
- Additional garnish as desired
Yes, you read the list correctly. That’s really about all you need.
To start, get a small saucepan of water onto high heat. While you’re waiting for the water to boil, get a small bowl and wisk together the brown sugar, sriracha, and soy sauce. Set this bowl off to the side for now. Put a pan onto the stove over medium-high heat, and dump in the assorted vegetables. Keep the food moving so everything cooks through and juuusssst lightly browns without burning.
Once you hear the veggies starting to sizzle, bring the egg to the party. Stir and scramble just like you would for breakfast – don’t let the green veggies throw you off, they’re good for you, you know! Keep an eye on things so nothing burns or sticks!
By now the water should be boiling, so stir your noodles into the pot. Lo Mein noodles tend to cook fast and should be nice and tender around the same time that your egg-and-veggie pan is finished cooking through. Drain the noodles either with a small colander or pot lid and throw them into the pan along with everything else. Then add the sauce mix right on top and stir.
Plate up – in a bowl, on a plate, over a bed or rice, or whatever else you want – and dig in.
Congratulations Grasshopper – your patience has been rewarded! You’ve just made your own Chinese meal right at home, and all for less than half of what you’d pay for take-out.
I told you it was easy, didn’t I? You’d think you’d trust me more by now. I’d be offended, if I wasn’t a disembodied wall of text.
With any luck, hopefully I’ve inspired you to think about ditching that Chines menu hanging from your fridge and instead trying your own hand at a taste of the East. And don’t you even think about calling in that pizza order. I saw that.
Now don’t let me keep you. Don’t let that bowl o’ noodles get cold – dig in! Respect the Dragon, and chow down.
And as always, happy eating friends!