Good Chinese food or Chinese takeout can be hard to come by. I don’t know how many different times I’ve been asked where I order Chinese food from, and it’s a hot topic of conversation among friends as to where the best place to order is.
Maybe it’s easier in a larger city, but out where I live there are only a few places to choose from. Just when you get used to one restaurant, they switch up the menu or the food wasn’t quite what it was the last time you ordered. And let me tell you, a bad Chinese food experience is enough to make me leave one take out place and never go back.
So what to do when you get a craving for Chinese food but you don’t know where to order from? You can jump online and hit up Yelp or other review sites, looking for a recommendation. Or, you can do what I finally started to do – make it yourself. Creating Chinese food at home isn’t hard at all, and if you have the right tools it’s a fast, easy way to get your Chinese food fix. Here are a few of my favourite make-at-home Chinese food recipes:
Steamed Lemon Chicken
Lemon chicken is a family favourite, and I love being able to use my steamer to cook the chicken.
4 -5 boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
2 slices minced ginger
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon dry sherry
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon brown sugar
Green Onion (Spring onions, scallions)
Combine the marinade ingredients. Place the chicken in a bowl with the lemon juice. Add the marinade ingredients and sprinkle the ginger pieces over the chicken.
Marinate the chicken for about 20 minutes.
Steam the chicken. If using the wok to steam the chicken, place the chicken on a steamproof dish and pour the marinade ingredients over it. Steam the chicken until it turns white and is cooked through.
If using a commercial steamer, prepare according to the steamer directions. Depending on the type of steamer, you may not be able to pour the marinade over the chicken before steaming. If that is the case, reserve the marinade and steam the chicken according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Bring the reserved marinade to a boil and pour over the chicken just before serving.
Serve hot with rice and stir-fried dried mushrooms. Garnish with green onion and lemon wedges.
Sweet and Sour Chicken
What Chinese food dinner would be complete without Sweet and Sour Chicken? This recipe makes extra sauce so you can drizzle it on your rice too.
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 egg, lightly beaten
freshly ground black or white pepper, to taste
Cornstarch, as needed
3/4 cup water
4 1/2 TB rice vinegar
1 1/2 TB black rice vinegar
3 TB tomato paste
4 1/2 TB brown sugar
1/2 tsp chile sauce or chili paste, or to taste
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch mixed with 6 teaspoons water
3 – 4 cups peanut or vegetable oil for deep-frying and stir-frying, as needed
1 garlic clove, peeled, finely chopped
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger
1/2 medium or large onion, finely chopped
3/4 cup baby carrots, chopped in half
1/2 green bell pepper, deseeded, cut into small cubes
1/2 red bell pepper, deseeded, cut into small cubes
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded, cut julienne, optional
Cut the chicken into small (1/2 – 1-inch) cubes. Combine the chicken cubes with the egg, soy sauce, and pepper. Add enough cornstarch to nicely coat the chicken, using cooking chopsticks or your fingers to mix it in.
In a small bowl, combine the first 6 ingredients for the sweet and sour sauce (the water, two rice vinegars, tomato paste, brown sugar, and chili paste), whisking to mix in the tomato paste. Bring to a boil in a saucepan. Give the cornstarch/water slurry a quick re-stir and add to the sauce, stirring quickly to thicken. Turn the heat to low and keep warm.
Heat the oil in a wok to between 360 and 365 degrees Fahrenheit (182 – 185 degrees Celsius). (Note: oil can take several minutes to heat to the right temperature, so you may want to start heating it before you begin preparing the other ingredients). Drop the chicken cubes into the hot oil, a few pieces at a time, and deep-fry until crispy (3 to 4 minutes). Remove the chicken cubes and drain on paper towels.
Drain all but 2 tablespoons oil from the wok. Add the garlic and ginger. Stir for a few seconds until aromatic and add the chopped onion. Stir-fry for about 1 minute, then push to the sides and add the carrots and green bell pepper. Stir-fry for another minute and add the red peppers. (Note: If the vegetables begin to dry out, add a small amount of Chinese rice wine or dry sherry, chicken broth or water).
Bring the sauce back up to a boil and add to the wok, mixing with the vegetables. Add the chicken. Heat through and serve over cooked rice, garnishing with the cucumber if desired.
Chicken Fried Rice
A quick, easy staple at my house, I will occasionally serve chicken fried rice as a main dish and the kids love it. I always cook my chicken with teriyaki sauce, but you can use chicken seasoned with anything and it will still taste great.
3 cups rice, prepared
Prepare rice according to package instructions to yield 3 cups cooked rice. Heat sesame oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add onion, garlic, peas, and carrots.
Chinese Noodle Chicken
You can subsitute and cook this with pork, but I’ve stuck to chicken and it’s delicious.
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup sliced onion
2 cups broccoli florets
2 carrots, julienned
2 cups snow peas
4 cups dry Chinese noodles
1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
In a large skillet brown chicken in oil, stirring constantly until juices run clear.
Add the onion, broccoli, carrots and peas. Cover skillet and steam for 2 minutes.
Add the Chinese noodles and teriyaki sauce. Stir noodles into chicken/vegetable mixture, making sure they are coated with sauce. When the noodles wilt, serve.
It’s Friday afternoon and if you’re craving Chinese food, all you need is a few ingrediants and kitchen tools to create delicious Chinese food at home. Check out these appliances I use when creating my favourite dishes:
The best chicken stir frys and chicken noodle dishes start with a great wok like the Breville Hot Wok Pro.
The best Chinese food starts with a versatile steamer like the Breville Health Smart Steamer.
The Oster Pan Electric Skillet keeps food warm while you’re heating up other dishes and it’s great for a quick dish too.