Everyone loves Lo Mein! Am I right? Lo Mein seems to be on of the most common types of Asian Cuisine that we see in the United States. Several types of Lo Mein can be found. Some with veggies, and others with meats or even fish. When I was younger, my diet consisted of mostly noodles, since I had no pallet yet. Of course, Lo Mein was my favorite and I always ordered it at Asian restaurants (and maybe an extra one for later!). Even though we see Lo Mein in so many places, it actually originated in China, as a wheat flour noodle dish. It is unclear exactly who invented the process of mixing water and flour to make noodles, but the Chinese have been eating them for over 2,000 years! This takes us back to the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. – 220 A.D.). Noodles have become a large part of Chinese culture. They are almost always served long and uncut because they symbolize a long and prosperous life. They are even part of big celebrations like birthdays and sometimes placed on grave sites for good luck.
The word itself comes from the Cantonese “lōu mihn” meaning “stirred noodles” and is actually traditionally made from elastic thin flour or egg noodles. Many people intertwine Chow Mein and Lo Mein, but they are two different dishes. Chow Mein is made from the same noodles as Lo Mein, but instead of keeping the noodles soft, Chow Mein contains fried noodles, which may sometimes be very crispy.
The two types of noodles you most commonly see are wheat noodles and rice noodles. Now, wheat noodles can be found all over China, but they originated in the Northern parts of China where wheat was a staple crop. Making these noodles is considered an art and you can sometimes see street noodle vendors “pulling” the dough to make the noodles.