Lo Mein, generally eaten with chopsticks, is an incredible Chinese side dish or main course. Traditionally made from wheat flour and egg, labeled as egg noodles, Lo Mein is sure to satisfy anyone’s craving for Chinese food.
Have you ever been craving Lo Mein but did not have the time (or patience) to make it from Lo Mein noodles? Are you wondering if there are any substitutes for Lo Mein noodles, and what is the difference between Lo Mein and Chow Mein? Well, you came to the right place! There are tons of substitutes, and we are going to go over them in detail! Rest assured, you have a replacement! There are many replacements like Chop Suey noodles, Yakisoba noodles, or Ramen noodles.
What is Lo Mein?
Lo mein is a Chinese cuisine that has been made famous by American-Chinese restaurants. “Mein” means noodles in Cantonese, and “Lo” means tossed or stirred, making for a great stir fry! Lo mein could be served either as a side dish or the main course, cold or hot, in numerous ways.
Lo mein is a commonly savory, spicy dish with a bit of spiciness, usually cooked in garlic, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and ginger sauce. Adding sesame oil after cooking gives the Lo Mein its classic flavor. The Lo mein is usually served and cooked with vegetables and a type of protein like tofu, beef, chicken, or pork.
What are Traditional Lo Mein Noodles Made Of?
Traditional Lo Mein, generally eaten with chopsticks from Guangzhou, is typically made from wheat flour and egg, giving them the crooked, yellow product. Lo mein purchased fresh, frozen, or dry from most grocery stores, is typically served in a broth with vegetables or meat.
What’s the Difference Between Lo Mein and Chow Mein?
Is there a difference in Lo Mein and Chow mein? Yes, but a very minimal difference, so minimal that the United States usually uses Lo Mein and Chow Mein interchangeably. Although very similar, there is one significant difference. The main difference is how the noodles are prepared and cooked.
As mentioned earlier, “Lo” means tossed or stirred in Cantonese. “Chow” in Cantonese means fried. Soy sauce, oyster sauce, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, ginger milk, vegetables, and protein make up the Lo Mein sauce. Then, you can toss the noodles in the sauce and serve.
You may notice a few differences while eating Lo Mein and Chow Mein. The differences are as follows.
- Prepared in the wok.
- A bit heavier due to the added fat from the oil.
- Distinctly greasy and crispy.
- Served with fewer vegetables and protein.
- The Chow Mein sauce is darker and thicker than the Lo Mein sauce.
- Chow mein noodles, fried in oil after boiling.
- Light sauce.
- Minimal Grease.
- The dish includes vegetables that have been tossed with noodles and sauce.
- It can be time-consuming.
What Can I Use If I Don’t Have Lo Mein Noodles?
1. Chow Mein Noodles
Chow Mein and Lo Mein noodles have almost identical ingredients. However, the preparation of the noodles is entirely different; that is the only difference between the two. Chow Mein noodles are by far your best option available for a Lo Mein substitute.
To prepare Chow Mein traditionally:
- Prepare your noodles normally, as the package states.
- Mix your soy sauce, ginger, sesame oil, cornstarch, and sugar in a small bowl.
- Heat your large pan or wok on high heat. Add your oil, chicken, or other protein and season with salt and pepper. Stir-fry until cooked throughout.
- Add your vegetables like spring onion, water chestnuts, green beans, broccoli, celery, or cabbage. Stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes or until cabbage has wilted.
- Add your garlic and cook for roughly 30 seconds.
- Add your Chow Mein noodles and cook until the sauce has thickened, around 1 to 2 minutes. Add your remaining vegetables.
- Serve immediately.
Lo Mein noodles are boiled and then tossed directly into the Lo Mein sauce. You are supposed to fry Chow Mein noodles after boiling them and then add them to the sauce. The fact that Chow Mein and Lo Mein are so identical makes Chow Mein noodles the best substitute for Lo Mein, as they are almost exact! Although Chow Mein noodles can be a bit heavier due to the added fats in the noodles. Adjust the oil in your recipe as needed.
2. Chop Suey Noodles
Chop Suey noodles can be an excellent substitute for your Lo Mein noodles, although they are a bit thinner and less chewy than Lo Mein. Chop Suey noodles are usually cut shorter in length, resembling linguine. Both Chop Suey and Lo Mein noodles have an umami flavor, although Chop Suey noodles are a little more sweet and sour, similar to Pad Thai.
Substituting Lo Mein noodles for Chop Suey noodles can be ideal if you love the intense flavor. Chop Suey noodles will work better for you if you plan on frying the noodles in oil.
You can prepare chop suey in the following ways:
- Fry your vegetables like water chestnuts, bean sprouts, broccoli, snow peas, or baby corn.
- Add your chicken, beef, or vegetable stock to reduce and thicken your mixture.
- Finally, the Chop Suey noodles are then put in the mix to cook.
Yakisoba, long and thin wheat noodles, is essentially your Japanese version of Lo Mein noodles, making it one of the better options for a substitute. Yakisoba noodles are prepared just like Lo Mein noodles and look almost identical. However, Yakisoba noodles can give you more of a sweet and savory flavor like the Lo Mein noodles, but Yakisoba noodles can provide more of a complex flavor in your dish.
The majority of Yakisoba noodles you can find in the refrigerated department of your local grocery store are generally precooked, and you only need to heat them before consuming them. Precooked noodles can be a lifesaver if you are in a rush. That said, Yakisoba noodles are your best option in a time crunch!
Yakisoba will provide umami, salty but sweet flavor to your dish, making it a perfect substitute for Lo Mein noodles.
4. Vermicelli Noodles
Noodles made from durum semolina and water, Vermicelli noodles are long and thin in appearance at about 1/8 inch in diameter. Unlike most noodles, Vermicelli noodles are not egg-based, making them an ideal substitute for Lo Mein noodles if you want to stay away from egg-based ones.
Vermicelli noodles, commonly used in many Vietnamese dishes like stir-fry, salads, soups, or spring rolls, can be a perfect substitution for Lo Mein noodles. Vermicelli noodles will absorb the flavor of your dish, being so versatile that you can use them virtually in any recipe that you would use Lo Mein noodles.
5. Ramen Noodles
Ramen noodles, commonly known as the go-to meal for broke college students, originate from Japan but are common worldwide. Most people eat instant Ramen noodles as soup-based, but you can prepare Ramen noodles in multiple ways.
Ramen noodles cook the same as Lo Mein noodles, can be more flavorful, more versatile, and absorb more flavor of the dish than Lo Mein noodles. You will indeed be satisfied using Ramen noodles as a substitute for Lo Mein noodles, which are easy to find in your local grocery store!
Although they are the perfect substitute, they may not be your healthiest option, especially instant Ramen, as it is high in carbs and lack any genuine nutritional value.
6. Chili Noodles
Chili noodles have comparatively the same base ingredients and cooking style as Lo Mein noodles making them very similar. However, there is one primary difference; chili paste. Lo Mein has little to no spice, depending on what you choose to put in. Chili noodles have a bit of a spicy kick to them; that is really the only difference between the two. Since it has a spicy kick, this substitute is best for spicy food fans.
7. Udon Noodles
A more uncommon substitute you could use is Udon noodles. Udon noodles are comparable in texture to Lo Mein noodles but are more stable when cooked, making Udon noodles a decent replacement for Lo Mein noodles. Udon noodles are commonly used in stir-fry, soup, broths, or varied vegetable dishes and have a white, flat, and plump appearance, but you have many options when it comes to size and shape.
Unlike most of the substitutions listed, Udon noodles do not have their own flavor. Udon noodles will absorb more of the broth or sauce’s taste rather than its own, making Udon noodles an excellent replacement for Lo Mein noodles.
8. Pad Thai noodles
Pad Thai noodles have a slightly different taste than Lo Mein noodles. Pad thai has a bit of sweet and sour notes to it, while Lo Mein noodles are more savory and umami. Pad Thai noodles would not be one of your better options in terms of an alternative to Lo Mein noodles.
That said, Pad Thai noodles can be a last resort substitute if you’re in desperate need of a replacement.
The cooking style and base ingredients are similar in both Pad Thai noodles and Lo Mein noodles making it an alright alternative.
9. Rice Noodles
Rice noodles, sometimes known as rice sticks, are the perfect alternative if you are on a gluten-free diet, as most rice noodles do not contain wheat. Rice noodles containing no wheat also makes for a healthier option.
Rice noodles have a similar texture to pasta and will absorb your sauce and give you lots of extra flavors! Although you should be aware, you need to soak your Rice noodles in hot water to soften them prior to using.
Although not recommended, pasta is another substitute as well for Lo Mein noodles. Pasta should be one of your last alternatives as it is not ideal and should only be substituted when necessary. There are measures you can take to prevent a disaster dish using pasta.
- Spaghetti noodles are your best option; they are the closest to look and texture.
- Try to make your pasta noodles al dente to give them the crunch resembling egg noodles in Lo Mein.
- Add a tad bit of baking soda into the water while boiling your pasta noodles; this alters the pH levels to give a more similar texture to Lo Mein noodles.
- Ensure to boil the pasta noodles before using them as a Lo Mein substitute. Run them under cold water immediately after straining them. Lastly, add some oil.
That said, pasta noodles can be a decent substitute in a pinch.
11. Soba Noodles
Soba noodles, made from buckwheat flour rather than wheat flour, are a remarkable resemblance to Lo Mein noodles but do have a slightly different texture and flavor. Soba noodles are an excellent source of fiber and protein, making them a healthier option if you are on a low-carb or gluten-free diet.
Can I use regular pasta for lo mein?
Yes, you can indeed use regular pasta noodles in place of Lo Mein noodles. However, they are not ideal; you can use pasta. Pasta noodles originate from Italy, and Lo Mein noodles originate from China, entirely different parts of the world.
That said, they have diverse ingredients, textures, and preparations. If you absolutely have to, go ahead and use pasta but try to use a linguine, spaghetti, or fettuccine if you believe it necessary.
H3: Is lo mein good for diabetics?
Lo Mein is not necessarily bad for diabetic people, but it is not totally good as it generally has a high sodium content. An average cup of Lo Mein made at home contains roughly 165. Whereas a restaurant serving that is more than a cup contains approximately 895 calories.
If you choose to make Lo Mein at home as a person with diabetes, you can take precautions such as:
- Use whole-wheat spaghetti noodles in place of Lo Mein noodles.
- Only consume one cup serving of Lo Mein. If you are unsatisfied, pair your meal with a side of non-starchy steamed vegetables.
Do you put an egg in lo mein?
Lo Mein traditionally does not contain eggs. Still, you are able to make your Lo Mein however you please. If that means adding an egg to your recipe, then so be it!
In conclusion, there are many options for substituting Lo Mein noodles! Whether it be Ramen noodles, Soba noodles, Rice noodles, or Udon noodles, guaranteed you have a substitute! What is your favorite alternate?