Hands down, shrimp lo mein is one of the easiest noodle dishes to cook. It's so fast to make, even if you include all the prep work. I mean, it's even faster than ordering and waiting for your favorite Chinese takeaway! (Yes, I've tested this, lol.)
Shrimp Lo Mein
This easy shrimp lo mein recipe is the perfect noodle dish for a weeknight dinner. It's so hearty… sweet, salty, soft, chewy, and crunchy - a play in flavor and texture.
I developed this recipe a few years ago after I had returned from overseas. It's definitely a simplified and modified recipe to suit what I usually have in my kitchen pantry. But don't worry; it doesn't sacrifice flavor authenticity.
What is Shrimp Lo Mein?
Lo mein shrimp is fresh egg noodles tossed in a punchy sauce with heaps of shrimp and veggies.
There are many variations of lo mein - keep reading further down, and I will give you alternatives for other proteins you can substitute the shrimp with.
What are the Ingredients in Shrimp Lo Mein?
Lo Mein Sauce
- 4 tablespoons soy sauce - Soy sauce is the main flavoring for this shrimp lo mein. So, be sure to use the best you can find. I personally like to use a mixture of 2 tablespoons of light soy sauce and 2 tablespoons of dark soy sauce. The dark soy gives more punch and umami flavor to the dish. Not to mention the color it provides the noodles! Remember, color means flavor. However, if light soy sauce or low sodium soy sauce is the only thing you have on hand, I'd say go for it.
- 4 teaspoons corn starch - Corn starch is essential to thicken your shrimp lo mein sauce. It makes the sauce shiny and velvety.
- 1 tablespoons Chinese cooking wine (Shaoxing wine) or mirin - Let's get this straight… The authentic shrimp lo mein uses Shaoxing cooking wine. But I think that Shaoxing cooking wine can be pretty tricky to buy and is not always readily available. So, instead, feel free to use 1 tablespoon of mirin, the Japanese version of rice cooking wine that you can easily get in most grocery stores.
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil - Sesame oil is essential in many Asian dishes, especially Chinese. It gives dishes distinct earthy and nutty notes. I use 1 teaspoon of toasted sesame oil for my shrimp lo mein. I love the complexity the toasted version gives. In a lo mein recipe, sesame oil doesn't only act as a fat source to amp up the richness but also as one of the leading flavor components for an authentic dish.
- 1 teaspoon sugar - Yeah, you heard it right. Sugar. I use just a little white sugar, 1 teaspoon, in my lo mein to boost the umami flavor. Don't worry; your lo mein won't turn into dessert, lol. It will just give a perfect balance to your dish.
Noodles, Vegetables, and Shrimp
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- Garlic, onion, scallions - I'm using the Chinese classics of garlic, onion, and scallions for the aromatics.
- 2 cloves garlic - Finely chopped.
- ½ yellow onion (brown onion) - Finely sliced.
- 5 scallions/green onions - I chop the green parts, at an angle, into 2-inch | 5cm pieces.
- 10oz | 300 grams peeled and deveined shrimp - You can substitute the shrimp for any protein that takes your fancy. Read further below in this article for other protein ideas to add to your lo mein recipe.
- Vegetables - You can use almost any vegetables you like. That's the beauty of lo mein! Just be sure to julienne or slice your vegetables, so they cook fast. Experiment with any vegetables you like...snow peas, cabbage, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts. The options are endless! For this recipe, I am using the following:
- 2 carrots - Julienne cut or chopped into 2-inch | 5cm batons.
- 1 capsicum/bell pepper - Chopped into 5cm pieces.
- 1 cup snow peas
- 1 lb | 500g egg noodles - I like using fresh egg noodles for my shrimp lo mein. But if you can't get your hands on fresh noodles, you can also use dried egg noodles. Cook your noodles according to the directions written on the packet. Perfect egg noodles for lo mein should be soft with a slight chew, just like al dente in Italian pasta. Read further down for extra lo mein Noodle Tips.
- ¼ cup water
- Scallions to garnish, optional - If the taste of raw scallions is too strong for your liking, you can put the chopped scallions in ice-cold water for 5 minutes or so. It'll make your scallions curl beautifully and become crunchier, milder, and fresher in taste.
Shrimp Lo Mein Instructions
Here is how to cook shrimp lo mein:
- Cook the noodles according to the instructions written on the packet. Set aside.
- Mix the light soy, dark soy, and corn starch in a small bowl until lump free. Add the Chinese cooking wine, sesame oil, and sugar. Set aside.
- Add the oil to a large wok or skillet on high heat. Add the shrimp and cook on each side for 1 minute. Remove and set aside.
- Add the onion and garlic to the skillet and cook until fragrant. 30 seconds is usually enough.
- Add the carrots and bell pepper and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add the noodles, sauce mixture, shrimp, and water. Toss all the ingredients together in the pan while keeping it on high heat for 30 seconds.
- Add the sliced green onions and snow peas. Keep tossing the ingredients on the heat for a further 1 minute. This will ensure that the noodles are well coated in the delicious sauce!
- PRE-CHOP - As shrimp lo mein is such a quick dish to cook, pre-chop all your vegetables and have the noodles cooked and ready to go.
- WOK - If you don't have a wok, use a heavy-based skillet.
- DON'T OVERCOOK - Don't overcook the veggies. You want them to be a little bit crisp and crunchy still. No one likes soggy vegetables.
- SEASONING - You can season whatever type of protein you choose with some of the sauce before cooking. Extra delicious!
- KEEP STIRRING - Keep stirring and tossing all your ingredients together; otherwise, they will start to stew. This leads to soggy vegetables and noodles.
FRESH EGG NOODLES - Lo mein noodles are often called egg noodles. They are traditionally made from wheat flour and egg. They are usually about ⅛″ or 3mm thick.
SUBSTITUTES - You can substitute the fresh egg noodles with dry egg noodles or any other type of noodle that takes your fancy! Rice, egg, thick or thin. Fresh or dried. Hokein, soba, or ramen noodles. Spaghetti or linguine even!
AL DENTE! - Cook the lo mein noodles as per the instructions on the packet. Be mindful not to overcook the noodles and keep them with a bit of 'chew' and a slippery texture. If you overcook them, they tend to stick to the skillet when you add them to the vegetables.
PURCHASE - Lo mein noodles are sold in packets, usually about 1 pound (500 grams), in the refrigerated section of your local grocer or Asian store.
Sauce Substititues and Variations
- Hoisin sauce - Hoisin sauce is traditionally used in Cantonese cooking and is made from soybeans, garlic, fennel seeds, and red chili pepper. It's sweet and savory, with a little hint of spiciness. It's so flavourful; you only need to add 1 tablespoon to change up this recipe. You can easily find hoisin sauce at your nearest grocery store or local Asian market.
- Sesame oil - Toasted or roasted sesame oil is darker brown in color compared to the yellow of untoasted sesame oil. If you can't buy toasted sesame oil, regular sesame oil is fine.
- Chinese cooking wine (Shaoxing wine) - What can I substitute the Chinese cooking wine (Shaoxing Wine) with in shrimp lo mein? Mirin is a good substitute. Mirin is similar to sake but is a little bit sweeter. You could also substitute the cooking wine with dry sherry, dry white wine, cooking sake, or dry sherry. Non-alcoholic substitutes include chicken or vegetable broth.
- Soy sauce - Dark soy gives more flavor and color than regular soy. If you can't buy dark soy sauce, using all regular soy sauce is fine. You could also substitute the soy sauce with tamari. Tamari is also made from fermented soya beans but is less salty and has a thicker consistency than soy sauce.
- Sugar - I use white sugar but feel free to substitute it with other types of sugar, such as palm sugar.
Storing Lo Mein Recipe Shrimp
Fridge - Store any leftovers of the Chinese noodles with shrimp in an airtight container and place it in the refrigerator for up to two days.
Freezer - Can you freeze shrimp lo mein? You can freeze cooked shrimp lo mein. Put the lo mein in an airtight container and store it in the freezer for up to one month.
How to Reheat?
Microwave - Put the shrimp lo mein in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high until hot. Check and stir at regular intervals for even heating.
Wok/skillet - Heat the Asian noodles with shrimp and vegetables in a wok or nonstick skillet pan on the stovetop and saute until hot. I usually add 1-2 tablespoons of water to help the sauce smoothly recoat all the ingredients.
Variations of Chinese Shrimp Lo Mein Recipes:
Like fried rice, you can put anything in your lo mein Chinese shrimp noodles! Here are some ideas you might want to consider:
Lo Mein Beef and Brocoli
Beef is a great addition to lo mein; it's one of my favorites. I love chuck or rib eye for my lo mein, thinly sliced against the grain.
Thinly slice 1 lb | 500 grams of beef, and cut 1 head of broccoli into bite-size florets. Coat the beef in 2 tablespoons of the authentic lo mein sauce and marinate for 5 to 10 minutes. Cook the onion and garlic for 30 seconds, and then add the beef and broccoli to the hot pan and stir-fry for 2 - 3 minutes. Add the noodles, the remainder of the sauce mixture, and water. Cook for 30 seconds while continuing to toss all the ingredients together. Add the sliced green onions and continue tossing the noodles through the sauce, beef, and broccoli for 1 more minute.
MARINATE PRIOR - If you know ahead of time that you want to make lo mein for a friend coming over for dinner, I suggest you marinate the meat a few hours beforehand so that it soaks up all the flavors.
Singaporean-Style Lo Mein
I got this chicken and shrimp lo mein recipe from my Singaporean friend. And this style of lo mein is by far one of the best I've ever made and tasted!
You'll need ½ pound (250 grams) of small-cubed chicken breast, ½ onion finely sliced, 1-inch piece of fresh ginger finely julienned, ½ pound (250 grams) of shelled and deveined shrimp, ½ cup of julienne-cut carrots, ½ cup of chopped red bell pepper, 1 cup of chopped mustard greens, and 1 finely sliced red chili pepper. Deseed the chili if you don't want your lo mein too spicy.
For the sauce, instead of mirin and sugar, replace with 1 teaspoon of kecap manis (Southeast Asian version of dark sweet soy sauce).
Stir fry the chicken with the ginger and onion for 2 minutes. Add the prawns and cook for a further one minute. Add the carrots, bell pepper and mustard greens, and chili. Don't overcook; 2 minutes is enough. Then, add your noodles, sauce mixture, and water. Cook for 30 seconds while tossing all the ingredients together. Add the sliced green onions and cook for 1 more minute while tossing all the ingredients through the delicious sauce! Serve with a handful of chopped scallions.
Lo Mein Tofu
Tofu is an excellent plant-based protein source. You can use different types of tofu, but my preference for this dish is firm tofu as it keeps its shape well. Chop the tofu into cubes. The classic lo mein sauce coats the tofu and makes them super flavourful.
Marinate 1 packet of tofu, chopped into 1-inch cubes, with 2 tablespoons of the sauce mixture for 5 to 10 minutes. Stir fry the tofu for 3 minutes until nice and crispy. Add the vegetables of your choice. I love carrots for some crunch, shitake mushrooms for some chew, and a healthy amount of bok choy for the greens. Yum! Cook for a further 2 minutes.
Add the lo mein noodles, sauce, and water and cook for 30 seconds more. Add the sliced green onions and, while tossing all the ingredients together, cook for another 1 minute.
Lo Mein Chicken
Marinate 1 lb | 500g of cubed boneless, skinless chicken breast (or thigh, I love the juiciness of chicken thighs) with 2 tablespoons of the lo mein sauce for 5 to 10 minutes. Stir fry with the onion and garlic for 2 minutes. Add the vegetables and stir fry for another 2 minutes. Add the noodles, remaining sauce mixture, and water, and toss all the ingredients together. Cook for another 30 seconds. Add the sliced green onions, continue tossing all the ingredients together, and cook for a further 1 minute.
Best Shrimp Lo Mein Recipe FAQs
How do you Describe Lo Mein?
- What is lo mein made out of? An authentic lo mein recipe is a quick-cooking dish of fresh egg noodles and vegetables stir-fried in a deliciously rich sauce.
- What is shrimp lo mein made of? Shrimp lo mein is based on a classic lo mein with shrimp added.
- What does shrimp lo mein look like? It resembles yellow egg noodles with thinly sliced vegetables and succulent shrimp, all coated in a sticky brown sauce.
- What does shrimp lo mein taste like? Shrimp lo mein is both savory and sweet at the same time due to the ingredients of the sauce mix.
- What are the noodles in lo mein made of? Lo mein noodles are made from wheat flour with egg added.
- What is lo mein sauce made of? An authentic lo mein sauce recipe is made from dark and light soy sauce, Chinese cooking wine, sesame oil, sugar, and cornstarch. Whisk the ingredients together or put them in a jar and shake! Adding chili is optional, but it gives the lo mein a firey heat that I love!
- Is lo mein supposed to be sweet? Lo mein has a slightly sweet profile with savory notes due to the combination of Chinese cooking wine, soy sauce, and sugar.
What is Difference Between Chow Mein and Lo Mein?
In particular, what is the difference between lo mein noodles and chow mein noodles?
- COLOR- Both recipes use an egg noodle made from wheat flour and egg. The egg gives both types of noodles their characteristic yellow color.
- SHAPE - Chow mein noodles are thinner and more crinkly in shape than lo mein noodles.
- TEXTURE - Lo mein noodles are wet when you remove them from the packet and are soft and with a slight chew after being boiled. Chow mein noodles are dry in the packet.
- PURCHASE - Where to buy the different noodles from? You can buy lo mein noodles in the cold refrigerated section at grocers and chow mein noodles from the dry goods of the Asian section of the grocer.
Is Lo Mein or Chow Mein Better?
Both egg noodle recipes are good! One is not better than the other; they are just different.
Noodles Tips and Troubleshooting
- What kind of noodles does lo mein use? - Lo mein traditionally uses fresh egg noodles.
- Is lo mein just noodles? - Lo mein is more than just noodles. It is noodles, a tasty sauce, and loads of veggies!
- What is the difference between lo mein noodles and regular noodles? - Lo mein noodles are egg-based, while many regular noodles do not contain eggs. You can use other types if you don't have lo mein egg noodles. You can add a Japanese influence to your shrimp egg noodles recipe and use soba noodles, rice noodles, or even shirataki noodles.
- Is lo mein noodles or rice? - Lo mein is a noodle-based and not a rice-based dish.
- Is lo mein made out of rice? - Neither the dish lo mein nor the noodle used for lo mein is rice based.
- Are lo mein noodles rice or wheat? - Lo mein noodles are made with wheat flour.
- Are lo mein noodles rice or egg? - Lo mein noodles, which are wheat-based, have egg added.
- Are lo mein noodles gluten free? - Lo mein noodles are made from wheat flour with egg added. If you want to make this recipe with gluten-free noodles, substitute the egg noodles with rice noodles or gluten-free spaghetti.
- Are lo mein noodles thick or thin? - Lo mein noodles are traditionally thick and chewy egg noodles.
- Are lo mein noodles considered pasta? - Lo mein noodles are wheat-based with egg added and are generally referred to as a type of noodle rather than a type of pasta.
- Can you substitute spaghetti noodles for lo mein noodles? - You can substitute spaghetti noodles with fresh, dried pasta, including fettuccini, linguini, or lo mein egg noodles. They're all delicious!
- How to make shrimp lo mein with ramen noodles? - Simply substitute the egg noodles with ramen noodles.
- Why are my lo mein noodles sticky? - The best advice that a friend gave me once about lo mein is to keep the noodles al dente as if you were boiling pasta. If you cook the egg noodles too much, all of the starch comes out of them, making them stick to the pan. Also, ensure that you stir the pot of boiling water in which the noodles are cooking. Do this as soon as you drop the noodles into the boiling water and continue to do so regularly until fully cooked. Otherwise, they will stick to one another.
- Where do I buy lo mein noodles from? - You can buy authentic Chinese lo mein noodles from the cold refrigerated section of grocers.
Shrimp Lo Mein - In Conclusion
See, I'm not bluffing when I said making shrimp lo mein is faster than ordering it from your local Chinese takeaway. It only takes 15 minutes max from prepping to serving. Moreover, you can put literally as many veggies and the good stuff in as you want!
Shrimp Lo Mein
- 1 Wok or heavy skillet
- 2 tablespoon dark soy sauce
- 2 tablespoon light soy sauce
- 4 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine (Shaoxing wine) or mirin
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon sugar
Vegetables, Protein and Noodles
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
- ½ onion finely sliced
- 10 oz shrimp 300g, peeled, deveined
- 2 carrots julienne cut into 2" | 5cm batons
- 1 bell pepper cut into 2" | 5cm pieces
- 1 lb egg noodles 500g
- ¼ cup water
- 1 cup snow peas
- 5 scallions/green onions cut into 2 inch pieces
- Sneak peak of the finished shrimp lo mein dish!
- Cook the noodles according to the directions written on the packet. Set aside.
- In a bowl, mix the dark and light soy sauce with the cornstarch and mix until it has no lumps. Add the Chinese cooking wine, sesame oil, and sugar and mix until combined. Set aside.
- In a large wok or skillet, heat the oil on high heat. Add the shrimp and cook on each side for 1 minute. Remove from the pan and set aside.
- Add the onion and garlic to the hot pan and cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant.
- Add the carrot and bell pepper and stir-fry for 2 minutes.
- Add the sauce, noodles, shrimp, and water. Keeping the pan on the heat, toss it all together for 30 seconds.
- Add the scallions and snow peas, Cook for a further 1 minute. while continuing to toss until all the noodles and vegetables are evenly coated with the sauce.
- Optional, sprinkle more scallions on top, Serve.