Everyone is on the hunt for quick weeknight meals, but especially at the beginning of back-to-school and fall activities schedules, busy people NEED meals like this. This shrimp lo mein is very tasty and can be made from scratch in less than 30 minutes. If you prepare a little in advance, it can even be a 15-minute meal!
Let’s dive in and see what makes this lo mein recipe so amazing for time-strapped meal prep!
- Need more noodles? See my 13 Best Chicken Pasta Recipes!
What kinds of noodles work best for lo mein?
Lo Mein actually refers to a style of stir-fry noodle dish, but also certain noodles are labeled as lo mein noodles. Generally, the stir-fry dish will use a fresh or dried egg noodle that isn’t too wide or too narrow. Lo mein noodles are usually boiled and then tossed into the stir fry with a slightly sweet sauce to finish the stir-fry dish.
- Want a different lo mein variety? Try this Chicken and Mushroom Lo Mein!
If you live near an Asian market, you’ll find a wide variety of fresh noodles you could use for this dish (I wouldn’t use rice noodles which is a very different dish), but most fresh egg noodles will work great.
Even at my American grocery store, I can find dried “lo mein” noodles in the speciality section of the store and they work great for this recipe as well as long as you don’t overcook them.
Basic Ingredients for shrimp lo mein
There are a few ingredients that I consider a must for a shrimp lo mein recipe, although as you’ll see later, there is a wide range of substitutions you could make.
- Sauce Basics: You’ll need soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, and rice wine vinegar for the base sauce.
- Shrimp: I like to buy large shrimp and peel them including the tail which makes for easier eating.
- Garlic and Ginger: Standard stir fry aromatics!
- Red pepper: I like the color and crunch of a fresh red pepper.
- Shredded cabbage: You could use a cole slaw mix for this or I like to thinly shred about half of a small Napa cabbage.
- Peas: Fresh English peas are a fun addition to the lo mein or you could use frozen peas as well.
- Garnishes like scallion and sesame seed work great.
The difference between chow mein and lo mein
This can get a little bit confusing, but just remember that “mein” in Chinese translates to “noodle” so in both cases we are talking about noodles and the difference is basically how they are prepared.
Lo mein noodles will likely be tossed in a sauce after cooking. Chow mein tend to be fried more and golden brown. Chow mein noodles tend to be a little less saucy in my experience as well.
How to make the lo mein sauce
This sauce for my shrimp lo mein is a mix of soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, and rice wine vinegar. I sometimes will use hoisin sauce instead of oyster sauce which ends up being slightly sweeter.
To trick to this sauce is that it is fairly thick. If you want a saucier finished lo mein, you could double the sauce recipe. If the sauce seems too watery once you add it to the noodles, you can also stir in a cornstarch slurry which is just a tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with a tablespoon of water.
Cooking the shrimp lo mein
The most important thing about this dish is to make sure everything is set and ready (mise en place) before you start cooking because they actually cooking just takes a few minutes!
This means cooking the noodles and rinsing them with water and tossing them with a little sesame oil to prevent sticking. It also means peeling and seasoning the shrimp, dicing up all the veggies, and whisking together the sauce.
When you are ready to cook, heat your wok or large skillet over medium-high heat and add a drizzle of oil. Swirl the oil to coat the pan and cook the shrimp first. They will cook very quickly, needing maybe 2-3 minutes total.
Remove the shrimp and add a fresh drizzle of oil. Add the peppers and cabbage and cook until they start to wilt, maybe another 2-3 minutes, then add the garlic and ginger followed by the peas. Toss together.
Finally, add in the cooked noodles, cooked shrimp, and sauce and toss to combine. This is where you can test the consistency of the sauce and thin it out or thicken it if it isn’t right for you.
Serve the shrimp lo mein immediately!
What to serve with shrimp lo mein
This stir-fry noodle dish is best served with scallions and sesame seeds as a garnish. I also like to add some chili crisp for heat or sriracha if you prefer that. It doesn’t really need anything else for serving though and is a great meal on its own.
Making this a 15-minute meal
If you are planning to be super-time crunched when you get home, you can make this a 15-minute or less meal by prepping everything in advance and having it ready in the fridge. Chop all the veggies, peel and season the shrimp and keep them in an airtight container, and cook the noodles and toss them with oil to prevent sticking.
Then when you are ready to cook, stir-frying everything and tossing it together is a VERY fast dinner.
Storing leftovers and reheating
If you are serving a family of four you probably won’t have any leftovers from this meal, but if you do, it stores fine in the fridge for a day or two and you can reheat it either in the microwave or in a skillet with a little water over low heat.
Substitution ideas for shrimp lo mein
There are so many substitutions you can make for this recipe! Here are a few ideas!
- Add other shredded veggies like carrots or broccoli or even mushrooms are all commonly found in lo mein recipes.
- Instead of Napa cabbage, try chopped bok choy.
- Make the sauce spicy by adding a tablespoon of sriracha or a teaspoon of red pepper flakes.
- Instead of shrimp, you can substitute a pound of cubed chicken or cubed pork. You can also make this vegetarian by adding more vegetables or adding crispy tofu.
- Need another veggie-packed noodle dish? Try my Teriyaki Rainbow noodles!
Shrimp Lo Mein
- 1 Wok
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup oyster sauce
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 8 ounces lo mein noodles, egg noodles, cooked and rinsed
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
- 1 pound large shrimp, peeled
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 2 cups shredded Napa cabbage
- 1 red pepper, sliced
- ½ cup peas, fresh or frozen
- 3 Scallions, garnish
- Sesame seeds, garnish
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch, + 1 tbsp water (optional)
To make sauce:
- To make lo mein sauce, whisk together ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
For lo mein:
- Prepare all ingredients: Peel shrimp and season with salt and pepper. Mince garlic and ginger. Shred cabbage. Slice red pepper.
- Cook lo mein noodles in simmering water for 4-5 minutes until they are tender but not mushy at all. Then drain in a colander and rinse with cold water. Toss with 1 tablespoon sesame oil to prevent sticking.
- To cook lo mein, preheat a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and swirl to coat. Add shrimp and cook for about a minute per side until shrimp are cooked through. They will cook very fast.
- Remove shrimp from skillet and add a fresh drizzle of oil. Add cabbage and peppers. Stir-fry for a minute or two to start wilting the vegetables. Add garlic and ginger and continue to cook, stirring regularly to avoid burning. Add peas and cook for a final minute or two.
- Add cooked shrimp and cooked noodles to the wok and toss to combine. Add sauce and toss together. If the sauce seems too thick, add a few tablespoons of water to thin out. If the sauce seems too thick and watery, you can add a cornstarch slurry (1 tablespoon corn starch + 1 tablespoon water) to quickly thicken the sauce. Serve shrimp lo mein immediately garnished with scallions and sesame seeds.