Welcome to The Gadget Chef

Ok so I'm not really a chef, but I do like to play one in the kitchen. I'm your everyday average guy, who is really into 2 things, food and gadgets! And I love combining the two and experimenting with that.

I've tried many gadgets out there, some with success and some with miserable failures. But my biggest goal is to limit what space I take up with what gadgets. As a person with a less than sizable kitchen, counter top real estate is so important I can't be the type that has several gadgets out all the time, and I'm also the type that if it's not out and handy, I'm likely not to use it.

So through the course of this blog I will give out some info on those items I've gotten over the years and how I use them, and some recipes, and be sure to share yours too, or comment if you've tried them

Monday, December 3, 2012

Quick vegetable Lo Mein

Lo Mein is probably one of the things I like the most when I pick up Chinese carryout.  After many tries I finally found one that I make at home that I like just as much, and can easily be made just about any night,  assuming you have some good egg noodles handy.

My Vegetable Lo Mein

To start with this recipe, let me say I've tried making lo mein at home many times, with some less than stellar results.  Most of the time I started with some linguine noodles.  Unfortunately after all those attempts I found that the problem with them all was just that, the noodles.  Most pasta you get from the store has a high percentage of semolina flour, if not completely made from that.  While semolina gives you a wonderful pasta for italian foods, the results for lo mein are just not right.

Now in my previous post I mentioned my new pasta roller, this was the key to my lo mein.  I made some basic egg noodles straight off the recipe book that came with the roller. It makes a wonderful egg noodle, that is just perfect for this chinese dish.  Now if you don't want to make your own noodles, which I warn you, once you start, going back to some store bought box of noodles becomes very tough to do, you can buy some egg noodles, just try to avoid typical boxed pasta that has semolina and go for a basic egg noodle, for me I like something sized around the same as linguini.

As far as a recipe goes, this is going to be the most imprecise recipe you might ever read, but that's because I think lo mein is something that is cooked very much to taste, so I could say 2 tbsp of this and 1 tsp of that, but yours and mine tastes might disagree highly, so play around and find what you like.  The other beauty of this recipe is that with only some minor differences, you can turn it into a wonderful fried rice which I will talk about as well soon.

The basic ingredients that I start with are as follows:

egg Noodles
wok oil
green onions
oyster sauce
fish sauce
soy sauce
salt and pepper
and sometimes I even add some frozen peas

Cook your noodles as per your directions,  now me sometimes I will cook them a little longer, as I like a pretty soft noodle for lo mein, however you need to be careful, too long, and you will have lo mush, and not lo mein.

While your noodles are cooking, melt some butter in your wok, it doesn't take much just enough to coat the bottom of your wok, so your eggs won't stick too much, if you have a good non stick wok you can cut way back on it if you like.  Then scramble up your eggs, at our house we like a good bit of egg in ours, so I tend to use 3 to 4 eggs, it's also how I sneak in some extra protein into my vegetarian wife's diet.  Once you have your eggs scrambled, take them out and set them into a bowl for later.

Next I have to clean out the bit of egg that is left in the pan, my wok is not the most non stick item I have, and I don't want a ton of burnt egg in my lo mein.  Then I add some wok oil and a clove or 2 of minced garlic, depending on the size of the clove and how many vampires I want to keep away, but a lot of this is purely to your taste, if you like a lot of garlic go for 2 or more, but if you don't want to be over the top, keep it to one.

While thats sautéing, chop up some cabbage, now how much you like and how you like it cut is entirely up to you, I've made it chopped pretty fine and also as shown in the picture above cut much larger.  I do like a good bit in there, I used about half of a small head of cabbage, however if I got one of the heads of cabbage I get from my in-laws, it would be probably no more than a quarter if not less.  I have to say they have sent down some of the biggest heads of cabbages I have ever seen.

One the cabbage has started to cook a bit, I toss in some julienned carrots, I wait on them a bit because I prefer them to be less than completely cooked where as I like the cabbage to be cooked through much more.  I also cut the onions and place them in there now to cook.  I dice up the green portions as well, but save those as garnish for serving.

By now you have probably cooked your noodles, so let's strain them and rinse them well with some cold water, this prevents them from continuing to cook and keeps them from sticking together.

As your veggies continue to cook you start making your sauce.  Even for a large batch of noodles, which is probably almost a pound, it doesn't take as much as you might think.  I use about a tbsp of fish sauce, a couple tsp of oyster sauce, maybe 1/2 tsp of sugar and probably about 1-2 tsp of soy sauce.  Again I say this is all to taste, so play around a bit and find what you like, it's not rocket science, its cooking.  You can always add a little more while you toss the noodles.  Because of this I really try to go light on the soy sauce, and add a little more while it's cooking.  Mix this all up and here's where your hard work is about to pay off.

Make a bit of a well with your veggies and toss in the sauce, followed by the noodles, tossing everything together well, trying to coat everything with a bit of sauce.  Next add your eggs back into pan continuing to toss everything together.  Now add a little salt and pepper to taste and a little more soy sauce if you so desire as well.

Once everything is mixed together,  you can add the green portion of your onions to make it look like something you got from your local take-out.  you should end up with pan full of something like this:

Now you can scoop onto your plate and serve, although if you really want an unbiased opinion of your new creation, get yourself some of those little containers, and tell everyone you tried out a new Chinese take-out and see what they think.

Good luck in the kitchen and enjoy!