The inspiration for this dish comes from two fine cooks that I’m lucky enough to know personally. The first, although he may not know it, is my Uncle John Klonowski. He and his family live near Durham, NC, so I don’t often get to see them. But they generously hosted my mom and I when we were in town to visit Duke University before my senior year of high school. Duke marked our eighth college visit in five days as we’d driven our way down the coast from Boston. We were exhausted, and had gone without a home-cooked meal since flying out of Chicago. That’s where our family stepped in, doing wonders to lift our spirits. Besides letting us play with Boris, the family poodle, Uncle John served homemade beef lo mein, which was absolutely delicious. In all honesty I remember that meal in more vivid detail than my visit at Duke the next morning. Maybe that’s why I ended up at college in the frozen north instead.
The second inspirational cook, incidentally also named John, is John Glasgow ’17. Although he’s abroad in China right now, I came to know him over this past summer through mutual friends. My chief memory of John is the night he somehow made enough delicious lo mein to satisfy a full house of hungry college men, myself included. Since I now live off campus and can cook whatever I want (I can’t stress enough how much I love this system), I decided to try my own hand at lo mein. I chose chicken as the meat, since it is generally cheaper than beef and ideal for a college budget. It doesn’t quite stand up to the product of lo mein kings John and John, but it’s good enough to satisfy my cravings once in awhile.
The only unusual ingredient is the lo mein noodles. These are softer and boil more quickly than most styles of pasta, and they have a distinct egg flavor to them. Rainbow Foods (at Snelling and University), where I do all my grocery shopping, sells 8-ounce packages of lo mein noodles in their Asian specialty section. In a pinch, you can substitute traditional spaghetti or fettuccine.
As always, bon appétit.
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup diced onion
- 1 link Chinese sausage (cut on diagonal into 1 cm slices)
- 3 jalapeno slices (to taste)
- 1 stalk green onion, cut on diagonal into 1/2 cm pieces
- 1 small potato, peeled and diced into 1 cm cubes
- 3 cups cooked white rice
- 2-3 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 2 tsp. soy sauce
- salt and white pepper
- sesame oil (optional)
- Boil noodles according to package directions. Drain and cover, so that they remain hot.
- Meanwhile, season chicken with salt and pepper to taste and cut into strips. Sautée in olive oil until cooked and set it aside.
- Heat sesame oil in a skillet or wok, and sautée onion, garlic, cabbage, celery, bok choy, carrot and peas for about 5 minutes, until crispy and tender, adding more oil if needed.
- Dump sauteed veggies into the pot with noodles. Dissolve cornstarch in 2 tbsp of cold water and add this, along with half the chicken broth. Add chicken and stir well. Add remaining chicken broth and soy sauce, stir again. Cook over low heat until the noodles begin to darken.
- Serve in bowls and top with your favorite chili sauce if desired.