I. Have mastered gluten free vegan lo mein, takeout style. I haven’t had American Chinese food since I went gluten free in 2008.
But trust me when I say that it is NOT the most important part of this dish. See, I’m Muslim, and it’s Christmas season…Muslims don’t celebrate Christmas. And we’re not as cool as the Jews- we don’t have a holiday like Chanukah this time of year. Our last of the two holidays was back in October. And you may ask yourself- since everything is closed and all of your neighbors are gone, what do you do for two days?
Well, let me just tell you that not EVERYTHING is closed. Halal markets (owned by Muslims) and halal restaurants (well…you get the idea), are open. I’m not going to lie though- I go there all the time. It’s like my Target. I haven’t been able to eat at the restaurants in forever, but I cook that sort of stuff at home. I’m pretty sure that if we had a larger Jewish population that some Jewish-owned businesses would be opened too.
So there we were. My best friend Erica and I. Erica is Jewish and I am Muslim. The holiday was coming. And we were home. What was missing? Chinese food. See, THAT is what Jewish Muslim Christmas is all about. Chinese food and Christmas programming- like Charlie Brown. Followed by raiding the stores for marked down seasonal candy.
Are you surprised? Well hold onto your knickers because this recipe is going to surprise you. As a youth, I worked at a Chinese food restaurant, so you might even argue that I knew what I was doing when I converted this recipe to something palatable. I wanted authentic American Chinese lo mein, and since Muslims don’t have Santa, I had to do it my damn self.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- onion, diced mushrooms, sliced carrots, and peapods: Bird’s Eye brand makes a frozen 14.4oz package of this mix, but you could make your own totaling almost 2c
- 8oz of diced mushrooms (because I LOVE mushrooms)
- 7oz or so of bean sprouts
- and you COULD add up to 1-1.5c of broccoli, bamboo shoots, and water-chestnuts (I really wanted to add the water-chestnuts but I wasn’t sure if my kids would eat them)
For the “vege sauce”, mix-
- 4tsp corn or tapioca starch
- 1c not-chicken broth (use bouillon in some hot water)
- 2T low sodium soy sauce
- 2 diced garlic cloves
- 4Tbsp peanut oil
For the “noodle sauce”, mix-
- 16oz spaghetti noodles (I used Tinkyada brand)
- 2T peanut oil
- 1T sesame oil
- 3T low sodium soy sauce
- 1.5tsp rice vinegar
Do NOT use alternative oils. You MUST use the peanut and sesame oils because they contribute largely to the flavor.
Boil the water for your spaghetti and dice all of your veges.
When the water boils, toss in your spaghetti.
Heat enough peanut oil in a large skillet or wok to coat your veges on high-low (somewhere between high and medium- the goal is not to burn your veges, it’s to soften them and brown your onions). Toss in your pea pods, carrots, mushrooms, onions, and any other vege add-ins like bamboo and water-chestnuts. When they are soft and the onions are at least transparent, add your sauce and and bean sprouts, stir well. Turn your heat down to medium low and simmer the sauce to thicken it and to soften your bean sprouts. When the bean sprouts are limp like pasta (you may have to stir the mix a few times), turn your heat off.
As for the spaghetti, I use tongs to stir and separate it as it cooks on medium high. When it looks limp, I taste it for consistency. I never time pasta. When it’s done, I drain it. Then I add the “noodle sauce” and I mix it well. The noodles will absorb it quite a bit. Then I toss my entire vege mix with the vege sauce into the pasta, and stir it well into the noodles using tongs.
There you have it!