Lo Mein Love Affair
I love Cantonese-style lo mein noodles. There’s something so appetizing about those slender curlicues. Once cooked, they retain the perfect balance between soft and al dente. They soak up the sauce in which they’re cooked so readily and completely, that one bite offers an explosion of flavour. So, when I saw packages of lo mein noodles piled neatly at the grocery store this past week, there was no way I could resist the allure.
The way I understand it, the noodles are pre-cooked just enough so that all that’s needed is a quick (1 minute!) dip in boiling water. Drain, and add them to the mix. Super easy. I had bought the package of noodles a few days ago, but at the time, I hadn’t thought far enough ahead to decide which fresh veggies I wanted to toss into the stir-fry. My fridge was sadly lacking in greenery; but, my freezer held a bag of mixed broccoli, red pepper, green beans and mushrooms. Perfect.
Any chef will tell you that the best part of cooking is the experimentation. Well, guess what? I was faced with an opportunity to do just that. Lo mein recipes usually call for oyster sauce, which, of course, I had not one drop. I did, however, have a bottle of Worcestershire sauce. I know, tamarind (which forms the basis of that classic sauce) is not intrinsic to Asian cuisine. It was, however, all I had. I combined about 4 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce with the same amount of soy sauce and 1 cup of chicken broth. Oyster sauce lends the noodles in a wonderfully rich and meaty-tasting sauce — you know, that fifth taste, umami. But, failing that, Worcestershire sauce comes in very close second. I added the veggies, noodles and some leftover grilled pork loin for a very yummy and impromptu dinner.