There’s no excuse this Sunday not to celebrate Valentine’s Day. That’s because it’s your birthday too! Chinese legend has it that humans were created on the 7th Day of the Lunar calendar. So on the 7th Day of Chinese New Year – known as “Human Day” or Renri 人日 – we celebrate everyone’s birthday.
Since symbolism is always on the plate during Chinese New Year, I chose to feature this recipe of Lo Mein 捞面 with long strands of noodles. Noodles represent longevity in Chinese culture – a welcome wish on all of our birthdays.
Lo 捞 in Cantonese means ‘to stir’ or ‘toss up’. An act that correlates with well wishes in Chinese culture. So as you cook up this lo mein on the 7th Day of Chinese New Year, and stir & toss the noodles high up in the air, make all your wishes for the upcoming year (just like you’re blowing out candles on your birthday cake).
In this Lo Mein recipe, fresh wheat noodles are stir-fried with shrimp and a medley of vegetables in a rich savory sauce. You can use any choice of protein or keep it simple with just the vegetables.
To get you started, here are some quick tips for a successful Spicy Shrimp Lo Mein:
- Type of noodles: Fresh white wheat noodles are best for lo mein, but they may not be readily available near you. Alternatively, you can use dried lo mein noodles, or even spaghetti. (Depending on the noodle type, you may want to toss them with some sesame oil after cooking and draining the water. This will help prevent the noodles from sticking.)
- Do not overcook the noodles. You want the noodles to have some bite, so cook them until just al dente, as you will be stir-frying them later.
- Prep the vegetables ahead to optimize your workflow. Most of the work in this recipe involves cutting vegetables, so you can save a lot of time if you get that done beforehand. I like to cut veggies at the beginning of the week, so a recipe like this only takes 15 minutes to cook up when I’m busy during the week.
- Cook meat first, then veggies. Start by stir-frying the meat and then placing it aside while you cook the vegetables (don’t overcook the meat as you will be adding it back into the wok to cook a little more at the end of the process). Cook vegetables quickly to keep them crunchy.
- Do not overcrowd your Non-stick wok. If you’re cooking for more than 4 people, I suggest cooking the noodles in batches so all ingredients are evenly cooked.
- Use both hands to stir-fry. You want to work fast stirring and tossing all the noodles and ingredients, so I recommend using a spatula in one hand, and chop sticks in the other (or a spatula in each hand).