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Take the classic Vegetable Lo Mein to the next level with this Vegan Beef Lo Mein recipe! It’s quick and easy, yet bursting with savory, umami-rich flavor. Perfect for busy weeknights or when you’re simply craving a takeout-inspired dish!
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Is Lo Mein Vegan Friendly?
The traditional Chinese dish is often not vegan-friendly for a few reasons. First, fresh lo mein noodles are typically made with eggs (very similar to Authentic Pasta!). Additionally, the lo mein sauce the noodles and vegetables are tossed in often contains non-vegan ingredients such as oyster sauce or fish sauce.
Thankfully, making a Vegan Lo Mein recipe from scratch is not only easy but delicious with just a few ingredient swaps. And since we’ve had so much success recreating a “beefy” texture with our past soy curl recipes (Vegan Carne Asada, Vegan Philly Cheesesteak, Vegan Beef Stew, Vegan Filipino Barbecue, etc.), we used them to create the ultimate Vegan Beef Lo Mein and we’re honestly stoked with the result!
The soy curls add the perfect hearty, chewy texture while adding tons of plant-based protein that will keep you feeling satisfied for hours.
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Soy curls: This popular vegan protein is exclusively sold by the brand Butler Foods. We have luck finding them stocked at our local health foods store, but they can be difficult to find, depending on your location. If this is the case, we recommend ordering them directly from the Butler Foods website or Amazon.
- Cornstarch: Tossing the rehydrated soy curls in a bit of cornstarch helps the “beef” become crispy and golden (a similar method to how we make Crispy Tofu, too!)
- Vegetables: “Beef” lo mein is just as veggie-packed as your favorite vegetable lo mein. We like to use thinly sliced onions, cabbage, and carrots, but you’re welcome to use any favorite vegetables of choice! Snow peas, red bell pepper, broccoli, mushrooms, water chestnuts, bean sprouts, baby corn, bok choy, and green beans would all be delicious.
- Noodles: As mentioned above, traditional lo mein is typically made with flat Chinese egg noodles. This, of course, isn’t vegan, so instead, we recommend looking for vegan lo mein noodles that are wheat-based, or you can try using your favorite thicker noodles in their place. Rice noodles, soba noodles, or even linguine noodles or spaghetti noodles would all work.
For the Lo Mein Sauce
- Aromatics: The base of the sauce begins with sautéed green onions, garlic, and ginger. For the best flavor, we recommend using fresh garlic and ginger as opposed to dried.
- Vegan “beef” broth: A classic vegetable broth will work just fine, but vegan beef broth truly takes this dish to the next level and makes it more authentic tasting. We always use this Vegan Beef Bouillon paste, but any vegan “beef” broth of choice will work!
- Soy sauce: This recipe uses both regular soy sauce and dark soy sauce for a richer color and flavor in the final dish. In addition to adding an umami flavor, dark soy sauce helps add a deeper, glossy finish that makes these noodles look just like the lo mein at your favorite Chinese restaurants.
- Hoisin sauce: A bit of hoisin adds sweetness and complexity of flavor to the low mein sauce.
- Brown sugar: Adds additional sweetness and bold richness that balances the savoriness in the soy sauce. If needed, coconut sugar is a great alternative.
- Rice wine vinegar: Adds the perfect bright acidity that balances the richness and sweeter flavors.
- White pepper: A popular ingredient in Chinese cuisine for its subtleness and ability to blend into the dish without altering the appearance. Black pepper is a fine alternative if you don’t have white pepper or don’t cook a lot of Chinese cuisine from scratch.
How to Make Vegan Beef Lo Mein
- Cook the lo mein noodles. Boil a large pot of water, then cook your noodles of choice according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
- Rehydrate the soy curls. Place the dry soy curls in a large heat-proof bowl along with the hot vegan “beef” broth. Mix so the soy curls are submerged and set aside to rehydrate, about 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, squeeze as much excess moisture out of the soy curls as possible, reserving 1/4 cup of the “beef” broth.
- Toss the soy curls in cornstarch. Place the drained soy curls back in the large mixing bowl and toss with cornstarch and salt.
- Make the lo mein sauce. In the same small bowl with the reserved “beef” broth, add the soy sauce, hoisin sauce, dark soy sauce, brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, and white pepper. Mix to combine, then set aside.
- Pan-fry the soy curls. Heat a large wok or skillet over medium heat with 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Once hot, add the soy curls and fry, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and crispy, about 8 minutes. Remove the soy curls from the wok and set aside.
- Pan-fry the vegetables. Heat another tablespoon of vegetable oil in the same wok. Once warm, add the onion, cabbage, carrot, and salt. Stir fry for about 3 minutes, or until the vegetables begin to soften. Add the garlic, ginger, and the whites of the green onions and stir fry for another 2 minutes.
- Add the noodles. Add in the cooked lo mein noodles, the sauce, and the vegan “beef.” Toss everything until the noodles are coated well, then remove from the heat.
- Serve. Serve the vegan lo mein immediately while warm with reserved green onion, sesame seeds, and a drizzle of sesame oil, if desired. Enjoy!
Just like our Spicy Chili Crisp Garlic Noodles and Vegetable Yakisoba, this easy lo mein recipe is the perfect weeknight dish when you’re short on time. It also makes for delicious leftovers, making it an amazing weekly meal prep for on-the-go lunches.
Lo mein and chow mein are very similar dishes, with the biggest difference being the noodles and preparation method. Classic lo mein traditionally uses wheat-based egg noodles that are soft, chewy, and thick. Chow mein noodles, on the other hand, are thinner noodles that are then pan-fried until crispy, making them slightly crunchy.
Absolutely! If you are gluten-free, use your favorite rice or buckwheat noodles in place of the wheat-based noodles. Make sure to also use a gluten-free “beef” broth, hoisin sauce, and tamari, or an alternative gluten-free soy sauce of choice.
The best way to prevent the noodles from sticking together is to time the dish carefully. When possible, time the noodles to be finished cooking right before adding to the wok and tossing to combine. The less time the noodles sit after cooking, the less likely they are to stick.
Rinsing noodles is another popular method to prevent sticking, but we actually don’t recommend this, as this will remove all the starches that help the lo mein sauce adhere to the noodles and properly flavor the dish!
As is, this vegan lo mein recipe is quite mild. If you prefer a spicier noodle dish, serve the final dish topped with crushed red pepper flakes, sriracha, and or your favorite spicy chili oil to taste.
Leftover vegan beef lo mein will keep for up to 5 days in the fridge when stored in an airtight container. Freezing is not recommended.