An entrée that’s as easy as it is stunning, these lobster noodles are a dish you’d be thrilled to serve to guests. With just a handful of ingredients, you can throw this easy noodle recipe together whenever you want. The backbone of this recipe is XO sauce. If you’ve never cooked with this little jar of pure luxury, fear not! This post will tell you all about XO sauce, and why you should always have a jar in your refrigerator.
Why I decided to make lobster noodles:
I am on an intermittent fasting program currently. I am not particularly strict about it, but I will sometimes do twenty-hour fasts and have done sixty-hour fasts. And when I say I am not particularly strict, I mean I still have coffee with milk in it, but in an effort to drop the pandemic weight (we can still blame the pandemic, right?), I’ve gotten a bit more limited with how much I eat.
Anyway, one of the things I’ve found myself doing–particularly toward the end of long fasts–is browsing food forums and feasting with my eyes. I’ve come to enjoy this because it makes me appreciate dishes that I may not have noticed before. It also helps me feel more creative in my own kitchen since I’m spending more time learning instead of cooking within my own limited repertoire of methods.
During one of my late-night food forum blitzes, I happened upon a lobster noodle recipe on Reddit’s Recipes subreddit posted by the user u/jelly_cat_diary. Something about that recipe struck some kind of nerve, and I knew immediately I wanted to make it.
That weekend, my friend Shan came to visit, and we cooked together. I made my orange-maple roast duck, duck egg rolls, and I decided to make lobster noodles. I told her I had no idea how the recipe would turn out, but we were going to make it together.
To make the recipe faithfully, you need:
- Frozen lobster tails, thawed
- Cornstarch and flour
- Aromatics, including ginger, garlic, and scallions
- Sauce ingredients, including chicken stock, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and XO sauce
- Chow mein noodles
The recipe comes together very quickly. A short sauté on the lobster, then noodles, aromatics, then sauce. Toss it all together, and you’re done. The ease of this recipe appealed to a very hungry me.
The result? This really easy lobster noodle recipe outshined all of my other hard work. I’ve since served this twice, and no matter what I serve it with, everyone favors the lobster noodles. No competition.
I wrote the user and asked if I could make an adaptation of their recipe and share it with you all, and they were very gracious and gave their permission. The recipe here has been modified slightly to my own tastes, but you can visit their recipe linked above if you’d like to make their version. Both are wonderful.
You can modify this recipe endlessly, but below are a few substitution suggestions:
- Lobster tails: Use shrimp or scallops. Alternatively, replace it with ground pork, ground chicken, or thin slices of beef.
- XO sauce: There will not be anything that tastes the same as XO sauce. You can, however, make an approximation with extra oyster sauce
- Chow mein noodles: Use any noodle you like. I used lo mein noodles for this recipe.
Before I dive into the recipe, I do want to touch on XO sauce for a minute. You’re always welcome to jump ahead to the recipe if you like.
XO sauce, the flavor foundation:
If you’ve ever wanted to add a super umami-laden sauce to your fridge, make XO sauce your choice. The sauce–birthed in Hong Kong in the 1980s–is a fragrant marriage of chopped dried seafood, chilies, onions, and garlic. As you can see from the label, scallops play a big part in the flavor profile of XO sauce, lending a sweetness that creates a super complex sauce.
The high-end Hong Kong restaurant, Spring Moon, may have been the first to create this sauce. It was originally served as a complimentary condiment at their tables, but when customers began asking if they could buy it, they bottled it up and sold it.
The name XO Sauce comes from XO (extra-old) Cognac, though the sauce contains no cognac at all. It’s also not really a sauce, as it’s quite chunky and has a consistency similar to relish. XO Cognac–a popular liquor in Hong Kong–shortened to just XO was used to denote luxury and prestige, particularly in reference to the expensive ingredients used to make the sauce.
While the name may be a bit of a misnomer with a touch of marketing ploy, XO sauce is divinely rich and well-deserving of the name that denotes such luxury.
Even though scallops, fish, and shrimp are the base of this sauce, you need not limit yourself to using this with fish or seafood dishes. It pairs perfectly with chicken, beef, pork, or tofu.
If you can’t find XO sauce from your local grocer, you can find it online.
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did. If you make it, be sure to drop me a comment to let me know what you thought of it.
Easy Lobster Noodles
- 16 ounces dry, fresh, or frozen lo mein or chow mein noodles
- 6 small lobster tails, thawed if frozen
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- A few tablespoons of neutral oil, for frying
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1- inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
- 5 scallions, trimmed and minced
- 3 scallions, thinly sliced into long slivers
- Crispy shallots, optional, for garnish
- Salt, if needed
Cook the noodles and prepare the sauce:
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the noodles according to the package instructions. Drain, rinse, and set aside.
- Combine all the ingredients for the sauce and whisk to combine. Set aside.
Prepare the lobster:
- Place the lobster tails in ice-cold water for 10–15 minutes. Drain. Cut the tails in half lengthwise using a sharp knife, ensuring the meat remains in the shell. Your lobster tails may already be deveined. Check for the black intestinal tract and scrape it out with a paring knife if you see it.
- After deveining the tails, rinse them again to wash out any small shatters of the shell that may have broken off while cutting them. Transfer to a large clean bowl. Sprinkle with cornstarch and toss to coat. Set aside.
Cook the lobster:
- Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large wok or skillet over medium-high. Once shimmering and hot, add a few lobster halves. Don’t overcrowd the wok! Cook, occasionally stirring, until the shell is bright red and the lobster meat is just opaque. Transfer the cooked lobster to a large serving bowl and continue cooking the remaining lobster tails. Once all the lobster tails are in the serving bowl, sprinkle with a touch of salt.
Cook the aromatics:
- Turn the heat on the wok to medium. Add the minced garlic, ginger, and minced scallions. Cook for 1–2 minutes until fragrant.
Simmer the sauce:
- Pour in the sauce and bring to a boil. Boil for 3–5 minutes until it begins to reduce. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Add more XO sauce or soy sauce if you like it saltier or richer.
Finish the noodles:
- Add the cooked noodles to the wok along with the lobster halves. Toss to combine and cook for 1–2 minutes to allow the noodles to soak up the sauce and to warm up the lobster tails again. Turn off the heat.
- Transfer back to the serving bowl. Arrange a few lobster tails on top and garnish the thinly sliced scallion slivers. Scatter crispy shallots on top if you like. Enjoy!