Copycat Hainan Airlines Ground Beef Lo Mein

For those of us who love to cook, inspiration can come from anywhere — even an airplane meal that happened to be way above the standard. On our recent trip to China, we flew Hainan Airlines and their menu included both Chinese and American options for the dinner and breakfast service. If you know anything about us, you know we’ll go for the foreign option every single time. And Hainan's ground beef Lo Mein dish was hands down our favorite dish from this trip.

What made this dish unique was that it didn’t look anything like the Lo Mein we’re used to from Chinese restaurants in the States. It looked closer to — and sorry for the simple comparison —a spaghetti Bolognese, except the flavors were completely different. The sauce was slightly sweet and you could taste the carrots and celery and it paired beautifully with a side of steamed baby bok choy. We had to replicate it as soon as we got home.

Here’s our humble intent at trying to do that. But if I may say so myself, it was pretty darn close!

Copycat Hainan Airlines Ground Beef Lo Mein
Ingredients – Serves 2 People:
  • 1 Cup of onion, finely chopped
  • 1/3 Cup of celery, finely chopped
  • 1 Small carrot, finely chopped
  • ½ Teaspoon of fresh ginger, minced
  • 3 Small garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Pinch of cumin
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 Pound of beef
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons of tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons of Oyster Sauce
  • 3 Teaspoons of Hoisin Sauce
  • ¼ Cup of Water
  • 1 Teaspoon of Sauce
  • Ramen Noodles – the straight kind
  • Baby Bok Choy, as much as you want (We cooked 4 small heads)

1. Sauté the onions, celery, ginger and carrot with a drizzle of olive oil or canola oil.

2. Add the garlic, a pinch of cumin, and the beef. Sprinkle a pinch of salt. Cook until the meat is almost completely done.

3. Add the tomato paste, vinegar, oyster sauce, Hoisin sauce and water. Cook until it all comes together and it thickens a bit.

4. In the meantime, chop the ends of the bok choi and steam it until tender. Sprinkle with salt or garlic salt.

5. Boil the noodles by following the instructions in the package. Mix with the sauce and serve with the veggies.

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