Delectable Beef Chow Mein At Home

You don’t have to go to your local Chinese buffet to enjoy a good dish of lo mein; we’re going to give you our take on how to make this delicious and filling dish yourself with only a few ingredients. You can serve it as part of a meal or as a snack and enjoy the leftovers for a later meal if there’s any left.

If you imagine your bank account shuddering with dread, relax. Our take on beef lo mein won’t break your budget, and you’ll be able to make plenty for everyone. Now, on to the ingredients listing. You’ll need the following ingredients to make 4 servings:

Meat and Marinade

  • 2 lb. flank steak cut into thin slices

  • 3 tbsp. cooking wine or sake

  • 2 tbsp. flour or cornstarch

  • 1 tsp. salt

Sauce

  • ½ cup water

  • 4 tbsp. soy sauce or teriyaki sauce

  • 4 tbsp. cooking wine

  • 4 tsp. sugar (preferably brown sugar)

  • 2 tsp. black pepper

  • 4 tbsp oyster sauce

Vegetable Mix

  • 2 onions, sliced

  • 4 green onions, chopped

  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced

  • 4 carrots, sliced into strips

  • 2 bell peppers, sliced

  • 1 lb. chow mein noodles, often labeled “stir fry” noodles

Preparation

Start by boiling your lo mein noodles until they’re pliable. You don’t want them to be mushy, just pliable enough to bend at the touch. It’s best to boil these noodles based on the directions on the package but err on the side of caution if you must. You can also use the noodle test to determine whether the noodles are done enough to proceed to the next step.

The noodle test involves taking a single noodle out of the pot - carefully, you don’t want to scald yourself with boiling water - and attempting to stick it to a nearby wall or similar surface. Not scientific, but it can work.

To save time, begin mixing your marinade and preparing your sauce in their separate bowls while you wait for your noodles to boil. You should use a quart-sized bowl for the marinade because you’ll later need to put the meat in it. A smaller bowl should be enough for the stir-fry sauce. This is for a basic take on beef chow mein. We’ll go over potential variations later.

Allow your beef slices to marinate during this time as well, so the flavor seeps into the meat. By doing

If you haven’t already prepared your vegetables (chopping, slicing, etc.), do so at this point. Ideally, you should prepare all your ingredients before starting to cook because it saves time and effort, as well as ensures that you don’t forget a step in the recipe.

Heat 4 tablespoons of peanut or vegetable oil in a non-stick skillet or a wok. You don’t need a wok, but you do need to have a cooking vessel and oil that can withstand at least 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread the oil around the entire bottom surface of the pan to ensure even coating.

a pan of sliced beef to be used for the beef chow mein

Image by agamaszota via Pixabay.com

Next, spread your slices of beef in a single layer in the pan after it’s been heated up. Leave it for approximately one minute, which should be enough to sear the bottom of the meat. Flip the meat over and treat the other side the same way. Then, take the meat out and put it on a plate.

The meat will have absorbed some of the oil, so add 4 more tablespoons to the pan while it’s still hot. Drop your onions, and bell peppers into the pan and allow one minute for cooking, which should be enough time for them to soften. Remember to stir the vegetables with tongs or a spoon; stirring is a critical part of the stir-fry process because ingredients may stick.

Put the remainder of the vegetables in the skillet and stir for one minute. The reason you’re putting these in later is that the garlic, green onion, and sliced carrot are thinner and therefore cook faster. The onions and bell peppers take slightly longer to cook.thoroughly.

At this point, you can add your cooked noodles to the vegetable mix and use a pair of tongs to ensure the mixture is evenly distributed across the pan. It also makes sure that you have enough space in the pan for everything to move around evenly, which is critical to cooking good stir-fry dishes.

If you want a thicker sauce, you can add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch or flour to the mixture and stir until it dissolves.

Add the beef back to the pan and pour the sauce over it. Toss and stir the entire mixture for approximately one minute or until the sauce has completely absorbed into the noodles. At this point, the dish is finished, and you can serve it.

Cost, Efficiency and Safety Tips

First, we’ll talk about the flank steak. You need to cut it against the grain to get evenly-sized strips and prevent tearing. When it comes to cutting, you should always make sure to keep your knives sharp. A dull knife is more dangerous than a sharp one because with a dull knife you’re likely to exert more force, have the knife slip, and cut yourself.

Also, a sharp knife cuts more cleanly, which is important to the presentation of a dish.

Next, if you want to save money or if you don’t anticipate cooking beef chow mein immediately, you can use frozen vegetables. Here, though, you have to use a skillet rather than a wok. A wok is designed for use with extremely high heat at the bottom, and you may not have room for your frozen veggies. Whichever method you use, heat first, then add the vegetables.

The same advice goes for meat. If you use frozen meat, you have a lot of ice inside that turns into water and ruins the flavor and texture. Because of this, you need to cook it quickly. Meat is the one ingredient you need to use fresh. Stop by the grocery store the day you plan to make this dish and pick up the flank steak.

Another safety must: wash your vegetables. This goes especially for root vegetables like carrots. For safety, many vegetables receive a pesticide coating that can be harmful if you ingest it. Make sure to give them a good rinse under the faucet to get rid of pesticides and residual dirt particles.

When it comes to food safety, keep your work area clean and use different utensils for the meat and vegetables. Beef, like other meat, can contain bacteria like E. coli and salmonella. It isn’t as dangerous as chicken, but the possibility for cross-contamination still exists if you use a steak knife to cut your vegetables, so avoid doing this.

Side Dishes for Beef Chow Mein

Chow mein, like chop suey, is a full meal in itself when prepared correctly. Chow mein has a base of noodles, which provide starch. The vegetables and beef provide the greens and meat, but you might still find yourself wanting sides. Here are a few possible sides::

  • Garlic buttered potatoes

  • Baked asparagus with a five-spice blend

  • Miso soup

  • Egg drop soup

Healthy Alternatives

vegetable oil which you can use for a healthy beef chow lo mein

Image by Mareefe via Pixabay.com

One of the only problems with this dish is that it can have high sodium content. Although the recipe calls for soy sauce, you can use a lower-sodium alternative. It won’t taste as salty, which also means you won’t need quite as much sugar. You could drop the recipe from 4 tablespoons down to two or three.

Lowering sodium and sugar intake reduces the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease.

Also, you want to use the right kind of oil. You can use vegetable oil if you’re not trying to be extra health-conscious, but a potentially healthier alternative is olive oil. Olive oil has important vitamins and minerals and a high enough smoke point to make it suitable for stir fry. Do not, however, use extra virgin olive oil. Use light oil; extra virgin olive oil’s smoke point is too low.

Variations

If you want a slightly different take on this recipe, you can use different sauces, such as hoisin, a teriyaki marinade, and you can add sesame oil as a garnish after cooking. You could also use different noodles like soba, egg noodles, or even angel hair. Just follow the directions on the package when initially cooking. Thinner noodles require less cooking time.

You can use a different cut of beef as well, but flank steak works the best because it cooks evenly and can be sliced thinly.

Final Thoughts

Beef chow mein is always a favorite when going out for Chinese. This classic stir fried noodle dish hits all the notes: savory beef with crisp vegetables and delicious, soft noodles. 

Making beef chow mein at home can save you a pretty penny rather than getting take out. Like all stir fries, it's a great way to use up any vegetables that you may need and is an economical way to feed the family.

Featured Image by flaviasaad0 via Pixabay.com

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