Cultural Corner: Chinese That’s Better Than Take Out

It’s 9 p.m. and you have an intense craving for Chinese takeout. The only problem is there isn’t a Chinese restaurant within in 20 miles, let alone one that delivers to your neighborhood. What to do? Whip up one of these three delicious takeout menu staples at home! With a little planning and prep, you’ll have a tasty Chinese dish on the table that tastes better than takeout.
 
Simple Fried Rice
Fried rice is a staple on any Chinese takeout menu. Because stir-frying is a quick technique, make sure to have the ingredients prepped before you begin cooking. First, boil one cup of medium grain rice in two cups of water (make the rice ahead of time and refrigerate it to prevent clumps when you stir-fry it). Heat oil in a wok or nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, and stir-fry finely chopped onion until it browns. Remove onion from the wok and add more oil to the pan along with a beaten egg mixed with soy sauce and sesame oil. Stir-fry until the egg is cooked and then remove it to a plate. Next, stir fry vegetables of your choice. Peas, corn, finely diced carrots and snow peas all work well. Add rice and chopped green onions and stir-fry for a couple of minutes. Add in the cooked egg along with extra soy sauce and stir-fry for a minute or two. Serve with extra soy sauce.
 
Beef and Broccoli
This Chinese take-out favorite may just have a few ingredients, but it’s big on flavor! Start by marinating a pound of thinly-sliced flank steak in a combination of soy sauce, cornstarch, cooking oil and pepper. Minced garlic, ginger, and sesame oil are also nice additions to the marinade. Next, cut broccoli into florets and steam them for a few minutes or until they’re bright green in color. Heat cooking oil over high heat in a wok or nonstick skillet, swirling the oil to coat the pan. Cook steak strips in a single layer for 30 seconds and then flip them over until they’re cooked. Add in the crisp broccoli and your favorite stir-fry sauce and combine. Serve over cooked rice and enjoy!
 
Sweet and Sour Chicken
This sweet and sour chicken recipe, adapted from Food Network, comes together faster than takeout could make it to your door! Slice two boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs into thin strips and season with salt and pepper. Mix together ½ cup of pineapple juice (from a can, reserve pineapple chunks), three tablespoons of light brown sugar and rice wine vinegar and ¼ cup of chicken stock. In a separate bowl, combine four teaspoons of cornstarch with four teaspoons of water. Heat cooking oil over medium-high heat in a nonstick skillet or wok, then add the chicken and stir-fry until lightly browned and no longer pink. Move it to a plate and stir-fry ½ cup of a green and red bell pepper for about one minute. Add in the pineapple mixture along with the reserved pineapple chunks. Let it simmer and then pour in the cornstarch mixture. Stir in cooked chicken and cook for five more minutes. Enjoy!