The iconic white and red Chinese takeout box is an American staple in any busy city. A quick call to the restaurant and your dinner will be ready fast and with a few fortune cookies packed inside. And the convenience isn’t because the food is already pre-made (it’s not), it’s because many Chinese recipes are meant to be simple and quick to whip up. The versatile recipes make it easy to replace any of the three main ingredients, beef, chicken, or pork, with one another.
It’s fast, it’s good, and it’s affordable, but it’s not *really* Chinese. It’s a distinct type of Chinese cuisine made for Americans by Americans of Chinese descent. Nonetheless, the Chinese takeout menu almost always has these seven staples that you can make for yourself easily at home with these recipes!
Appetizer: Egg Rolls
A round, crunchy egg roll is a popular starter to Chinese takeout night. Inside is usually barbecued pork, shrimp, or any meat you’d like, vegetables like carrots, cabbage, and bean sprouts. All you have to do is prep the filling, wrap it into egg rolls, deep fry, and serve with sweet and sour sauce.
Soup: Egg Drop Soup
The classic egg drop soup is super easy to make and only takes 15 minutes! It just takes eggs, chicken broth, and some garnish. Make your own with this popular recipe.
Beef Dish: Beef with Broccoli
It’s easy to love a simple, but filling dish like beef with broccoli. Fry the marinated beef, broccoli, and any other veggies you’d like to add in oyster sauce, and bam! You’re done!
Poultry Dish: Kung Pao Chicken
Kung Pao chicken has a kick of heat, tasty, tender chicken, and some crunchy cashews with every bite. Using the main ingredient, Szechuan peppercorn, you can make this at home in twenty minutes after you finish prepping.
Pork Dish: Sweet and Sour Pork
Deep fried in batter, the marinated pork pieces are covered in sweet and sour sauce and served with bell peppers and pineapples. The amount of batter depends on your tastes – restaurants can either use thick batter or relatively thin batter.
Fried Rice: Yangzhou Fried Rice
Fried rice of any style will always be an option at most Chinese takeout restaurants because of how easily you can replace the ingredients – as long as you have rice, eggs, veggies, and meat! And Yangzhou fried rice, a dish from the Qing dynasty, is no different.
Noodle: Lo Mein
Lo mein, as opposed to chow mein, which is prepared separately, are thicker egg noodles that are tossed and stir fried with the other ingredients. If you’ve been following along, the other ingredients are also veggies and a meat – usually pork! Whip up your own lo mein dish in a wok with this quick and easy recipe.
Turn your kitchen into your very own Chinese takeout restaurant. You’ll save a trip or delivery fee when you try and make these dishes yourself. Once you see what it takes, you’ll just have to buy your own fortune cookies to complete the experience!