Chinese food can seem intimidating to prepare, but with basic equipment, easy to find ingredients, and simple technique, you can actually replicate your favorite takeout dishes at home! I’m sharing two of my favorite Asian recipes which will show you just how quick and easy they are to prepare.
Juicy beef wontons in a rich flavorful broth makes for a great appetizer! This recipe can easily be frozen ahead of time and assembled right before serving!
For the broth:
8 cups water, or low sodium chicken stock
1 leek, cut in half
3 slices fresh ginger
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1 tsp. salt (omit this if using chicken stock)
4 scallions, thinly sliced
For the wontons:
¼ lb. ground beef
¼ tsp. white pepper
½ tsp. toasted sesame oil
1/8 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. low sodium soy sauce
1 package square wonton wrappers
1. In a medium size pot, bring the broth ingredients to a boil. Boil for 15 minutes, then shut the flame.
2. In a mixing bowl, mix the wonton filling ingredients until combined.
3. Scoop 1/2 teaspoon of meat filling into the center of each wonton wrapper. Using your fingers, wet the corners of the wonton dough and fold into a half triangle, then press both triangle corners together. Repeat until the filling is all used.
4. Boil the broth and add the wontons. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes until the wontons float to the top and the filling is cooked through.
Yields 25 wontons.
Tender slices of beef cooked in a sweet and salty sauce seasoned with hints of garlic and ginger. This is delicious over rice, noodles, or even alone with a side of vegetables!
1lb. pepper steak, cut into bite size pieces
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tbs. cornstarch
For the sauce:
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cut low sodium soy sauce
2 tbs. water
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 tsp. grated ginger (optional)
4 scallions, green tops only
2 tbs. of oil, for sautéing
1. In a bowl, combine the meat, cornstarch, and baking soda and allow to marinate for one hour to overnight. This step will tenderize the beef the longer it sits.
2. Heat a nonstick pan over high heat for two minutes. Add one tablespoon of oil and sauté the beef mixing occasionally until just cooked through.
3. Remove the beef from the pan. Add one tablespoon of oil and sauté the garlic and ginger for 10 to 20 seconds. The beef should be fragrant but not brown.
4. Add the water, soy sauce, and sugar and bring to a simmer. Return the meat back to the pan and toss until it is coated and the sauce has thickened. Then add in the scallion tops, toss, and shut the flame. Serve hot.
The unknown restaurant trick to tender beef and chicken in Chinese cooking:
The trick to preparing super tender and juicy meat in Chinese dishes such as lo mein and stir fry is to marinate the protein in a baking soda. This raises the PH level in the meat keeping it soft and moist during cooking. The combination of baking soda and cornstarch makes for succulent meat and thick sauce.
Similarly, many restaurants use a technique called “velveting,” which is coating thinly sliced chicken in egg whites and cornstarch. This step tenderizes the meat and creates a thin absorbent layer on the outside of the protein that’ll cling to flavor during cooking. The chicken is coated, fried in oil, then tossed with vegetables or noodles and ready to accept flavor.