Chinese food is one of the most popular types of cuisine, especially dishes inspired by chefs from the Cantonese and Szechuan regions of China. Cantonese food is often steamed or stir-fried and typically has a sweet and sour flavor. Szechuan (sometimes known as Sichuan) tends to be hot and spiced with peppercorns or red pepper. Some of the specialty Chinese recipes that we in the U.S. tend to like most are General Tso’s chicken, lo mein, kung pao, and chow mein. But while these entrees may look…
complicated and use ingredients that sound foreign, making them at home is not as difficult as you might think. With just a few staple items, like sesame oil, wheat flour or rice noodles, vegetables (bok choy and snow peas, just to name two), and soy sauce, you, too, can make your favorite Asian food in your own kitchen.
Chinese Noodle Recipes
Noodles are a staple of Chinese cuisine. You’ve probably eaten low mein or chow mein at some point. Since “mein” means noodles in Chinese, anytime you set out to prepare a dish that has this word in its name, you know you will need Asian egg noodles made with wheat flour, or use rice noodles for a slightly different taste and texture. And since a lot of Chinese recipes use many of the same ingredients – a protein, vegetables like shiitake mushrooms, Chinese cabbage, shredded carrots – and a few types of sauces and seasonings, once you master one noodle dish, you can master many in no time. A good rule of thumb is to have ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and sweet and sour sauce on hand, too.
Chinese Main Dish Recipes
Chinese main dishes can often be more straightforward to make at home than some noodle or rice dishes. They typically call for stir-fry protein and vegetables with sauce and spices. Some popular Chinese entrees you can easily make for your family are kung pao chicken, orange beef or orange chicken, sesame chicken, sweet and sour pork, and cashew chicken. Most of these dishes call for stir-fry veggies, unique ingredients, like cashews, sesame seeds, sweet and sour sauce, and then a protein – usually pork, chicken, beef, shrimp, or tofu. You can follow a recipe to the T, or for a typical dish that tastes exactly like your favorite Chinese takeout, use the same seasonings and sauces that your local Chinese chef uses: garlic, hoisin sauce or soy sauce, and for some heat, crushed red pepper or Chinese hot mustard sauce. If you want to make your hot mustard, you need dry mustard powder and water. To tamp down the heat, add vegetable oil. Or to create a more complex flavor, use sesame oil or rice vinegar.
Chinese Soups and Roll Recipes
I don’t know about you, but I rarely ever skip the soup and egg roll course when I eat Chinese food. With a few simple, authentic Chinese recipes, you, too, can make egg drop soup, sweet and sour soup, and wonton soup at home, which you can serve paired with a crispy egg roll or a fresh spring roll. To make a classic Chinese egg drop soup, you will need chicken broth, ground ginger, chives, cornstarch, eggs, and salt. The entire recipe takes just 20 minutes to make. Making homemade wonton soup will make you a star in the family. This recipe calls for brown sugar, Chinese rice wine, soy sauce, green onion, ginger root, chicken stock, green onion, and either store-bought wontons or wonton wrappers that you can stuff with your choice of pork loin, shrimp or chicken. Just a touch more complicated than egg drop soup, but very easy to make, nonetheless. Homemade wonton soup won’t take more than 75 minutes from start to finish.
One of the biggest appeals of Chinese cuisine dining is sharing several entrees among your entire party. So don’t hesitate to make three or four main dishes per four or five people. And provide all your favorite Asian-food side dishes and extras – homemade soup, egg rolls, fried rice, a pot of boiling tea, green tea ice cream topped with a fortune cookie, and a glass of rice wine.