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Quick and Simple Chinese Dinner Recipes for Busy Families

When you're pressed for time but still want a delicious meal, Chinese cuisine has got you covered. With its bold flavours and quick cooking techniques, Chinese cooking is perfect for busy weeknights. Whether you're cooking for a family or just yourself, there are plenty of easy Chinese dinner recipes that you can whip up in no time.

A table set with steaming bowls of stir-fried vegetables, fragrant rice, and savory tofu dishes. Chopsticks and tea cups complete the simple Chinese dinner scene

To get started, it's important to have a few essentials on hand. Soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sesame oil are all staples in Chinese cooking and can be used to add flavour to a variety of dishes. Garlic, ginger, and scallions are also commonly used in Chinese cuisine and can add depth and complexity to your dishes.

Popular meat dishes in Chinese cuisine include Kung Pao chicken, Mongolian beef, and sweet and sour pork. For vegetarians, there are plenty of delicious options, such as stir-fried vegetables, tofu and vegetable stir-fry, and vegetable fried rice. Seafood and noodle dishes are also popular in Chinese cuisine, with dishes like shrimp and broccoli stir-fry, seafood chow mein, and shrimp fried rice being crowd favourites.

Key Takeaways

  • Chinese cooking can be both healthy and delicious, with bold flavours and fresh ingredients.
  • Having a few essentials on hand, such as soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sesame oil, can help you get started with Chinese cooking.
  • Popular dishes in Chinese cuisine include meat dishes like Kung Pao chicken, vegetarian options like stir-fried vegetables, and seafood and noodle dishes like shrimp and broccoli stir-fry.

Essentials of Chinese Cooking

A table set with traditional Chinese dinner dishes, including stir-fried vegetables, steamed fish, and rice. A pair of chopsticks rests on the table

Chinese cuisine is known for its bold and flavourful dishes that are easy to make at home. To get started with Chinese cooking, you'll need to have some key ingredients and cooking techniques under your belt.

Key Ingredients

Soy Sauce

Soy sauce is a staple in Chinese cooking and is used to add a salty, umami flavour to dishes. There are different types of soy sauce, including light and dark soy sauce. Light soy sauce is used for seasoning, while dark soy sauce is used for colouring.

Ginger and Garlic

Ginger and garlic are commonly used in Chinese cooking to add flavour and aroma. These ingredients can be minced or sliced and added to stir-fries, soups, and marinades.

Salt and Sugar

Salt and sugar are used to balance the flavours in Chinese dishes. Salt is used to enhance the savoury flavours, while sugar is used to balance the saltiness and add a touch of sweetness.

Vegetable Oil

Vegetable oil is the most commonly used oil in Chinese cooking. It has a high smoke point, making it ideal for stir-frying and deep-frying.

Cornstarch

Cornstarch is used as a thickener in Chinese dishes. It is often used to coat meat before stir-frying or added to sauces to give them a thicker consistency.

Cooking Techniques

Stir-Fry

Stir-frying is a popular Chinese cooking technique that involves cooking ingredients in a wok over high heat. This technique is great for cooking vegetables, meat, and seafood quickly.

Steamed Buns and Dumplings

Steamed buns and dumplings are popular Chinese dishes that can be made at home. These dishes are typically filled with pork, beef, chicken, or seafood and steamed until cooked through.

Bake

Although not a traditional Chinese cooking technique, baking can be used to make Chinese-style dishes such as honey glazed chicken or crispy duck.

When it comes to seafood, shrimp, crab, and scallops are popular choices in Chinese cooking. These can be used in stir-fries, steamed dishes, or as a filling for dumplings.

By having these essential ingredients and cooking techniques in your arsenal, you can easily create delicious Chinese dishes at home.

Popular Meat Dishes

A table set with steaming dishes of sweet and sour pork, kung pao chicken, and beef with broccoli, surrounded by chopsticks and a pot of hot tea

When it comes to Chinese cuisine, meat dishes are always a crowd-pleaser. Here are some popular meat dishes that you can easily make at home.

Chicken Delights

Chicken is a versatile meat that can be used in many Chinese dishes. One of the most popular dishes is Kung Pao Chicken, which is a spicy stir-fry dish that includes peanuts and vegetables. Another favourite is Sweet and Sour Chicken, which is a tangy and sweet dish that is perfect for those who prefer milder flavours. If you're looking for something more substantial, try Chicken Fried Rice, which is a filling and satisfying dish that is perfect for a quick and easy meal.

For those who love bold flavours, Orange Chicken is a must-try. This dish features crispy chicken coated in a sweet and tangy orange sauce. If you're a fan of chicken wings, Chinese Chicken Wings are a great option. These wings are coated in a sticky and savoury sauce that is sure to satisfy your cravings. Lastly, Chicken Stir Fry is a classic dish that is easy to make and always delicious.

Beef Specialties

Beef is another popular meat used in Chinese cuisine. Beef Stir-Fry is a simple and tasty dish that can be made with a variety of vegetables. Broccoli Beef is another classic dish that is both healthy and delicious. If you're a fan of spicy food, try Pepper Steak, which is a stir-fry dish that features tender beef and peppers in a savoury sauce.

For those who love noodles, Beef Lo Mein is a great option. This dish features tender beef and vegetables tossed with noodles in a savoury sauce. If you're looking for a seafood option, you can add prawns or squid to your Beef Lo Mein for a delicious twist.

Overall, these meat dishes are easy to make and perfect for a quick and satisfying meal.

Vegetarian Favourites

A table set with colorful vegetable stir-fries, tofu dishes, and steamed dumplings. Chopsticks and a teapot complete the simple Chinese dinner scene

If you're a vegetarian or just trying to eat less meat, Chinese cuisine has plenty of delicious options for you. Here are some of our favourite vegetarian dishes that are easy to make at home.

Tofu Variations

Tofu is a staple in Chinese cooking and can be used in a variety of ways. One popular dish is ma po tofu, which is a spicy Sichuan dish made with tofu, minced meat, and chilli bean paste. To make it vegetarian, simply omit the meat and add more vegetables like mushrooms and capsicum. Another tasty tofu dish is sesame tofu, which is coated in sesame seeds and fried until crispy. Serve it with a side of steamed bok choy or Chinese broccoli for a complete meal.

Vegetable Staples

Bok choy and Chinese broccoli are two vegetables that are commonly used in Chinese cuisine. Bok choy can be stir-fried with garlic and green onion for a simple and tasty side dish. Chinese broccoli, also known as gai lan, is often blanched and served with oyster sauce. If you're feeling adventurous, try adding some seafood like prawns or squid to the dish for an extra flavour boost.

Mushrooms are another versatile ingredient that can be used in many Chinese dishes. Try stir-frying some shiitake mushrooms with garlic and capsicum for a quick and easy meal. You can also use mushrooms in vegetarian versions of classic Chinese dishes like moo shu pork or kung pao chicken.

Overall, Chinese cuisine offers plenty of options for vegetarians. With a little creativity and some simple ingredients, you can make a delicious and healthy meal that everyone will love.

Seafood and Noodle Dishes

A table set with various seafood and noodle dishes, including steamed fish, stir-fried shrimp, and bowls of fragrant noodles

If you're looking for a simple and delicious Chinese dinner recipe, seafood and noodle dishes are a great option. These dishes are easy to make and can be customized to your liking. Here are some ideas for seafood and noodle dishes that you can try at home.

Seafood Selections

Seafood is a popular ingredient in Chinese cuisine, and it can be used in a variety of dishes. Shrimp chow mein is a classic Chinese dish that is easy to make and delicious. To make this dish, you will need Chinese noodles, shrimp, vegetables, and a few other ingredients. You can also add other types of seafood, such as squid or crab, to the dish for added flavour.

Another great seafood and noodle dish is seafood pan-fried noodles. This dish is made with a variety of seafood, including shrimp, squid, and scallops, and is served over crispy pan-fried noodles. It's a delicious and filling dish that is perfect for a family dinner.

Noodle Classics

Noodles are a staple in Chinese cuisine and can be used in a variety of dishes. Chow mein and lo mein are two classic noodle dishes that are easy to make and delicious. Chow mein is made with stir-fried noodles, vegetables, and meat or seafood, while lo mein is made with boiled noodles that are stir-fried with vegetables and meat or seafood.

If you're looking for a vegetarian option, you can try vegetable chow mein or vegetable lo mein. These dishes are made with a variety of vegetables and can be customized to your liking. You can also add tofu or other vegetarian protein sources to the dish for added flavour and nutrition.

In conclusion, seafood and noodle dishes are a great option for a simple and delicious Chinese dinner. Whether you prefer shrimp chow mein or vegetable lo mein, there are plenty of options to choose from. So why not try one of these dishes tonight and enjoy a taste of Chinese cuisine in the comfort of your own home?

Sauces and Condiments

A table set with various sauces and condiments, alongside simple Chinese dinner recipes

When it comes to Chinese cooking, sauces and condiments are crucial in adding flavour and depth to your dishes. Here are some essential sauces and condiments you should have in your pantry for making simple and delicious Chinese dinner recipes:

Soy Sauce

Soy sauce is a staple ingredient in Chinese cuisine. It is used in marinades, stir-fries, and as a dipping sauce. Light soy sauce is saltier and lighter in colour, while dark soy sauce has a richer flavour and darker colour. You can use both in your cooking, depending on the recipe.

Oyster Sauce

Oyster sauce is a thick, dark sauce made from oysters, soy sauce, and sugar. It adds a savoury, umami flavour to dishes and is commonly used in stir-fries. If you're vegetarian or allergic to shellfish, you can find vegetarian oyster sauce made from mushrooms.

Black Bean Sauce

Black bean sauce is made from fermented black beans, garlic, and soy sauce. It has a pungent, salty flavour and is commonly used in stir-fries and steamed dishes. You can also find black bean sauce with garlic, ginger, or chilli added for extra flavour.

Hoisin Sauce

Hoisin sauce is a sweet and savoury sauce made from soybeans, sugar, vinegar, and garlic. It is commonly used as a dipping sauce for spring rolls and dumplings, as well as a glaze for roasted meats. You can also use it in stir-fries for extra flavour.

Sesame Oil

Sesame oil is a fragrant oil made from toasted sesame seeds. It adds a nutty flavour to dishes and is commonly used as a finishing oil in Chinese cooking. You can also use it in marinades and dressings.

If you're looking to add seafood to your Chinese dinner recipe, you can use prawns, scallops, or squid in stir-fries or steamed dishes. Just make sure to cook them until they're opaque and cooked through.

Frequently Asked Questions

A table set with traditional Chinese dinner dishes: steamed fish, stir-fried vegetables, and rice. Chopsticks and tea cups are placed neatly beside each setting

What are some simple dishes to cook for a Chinese family dinner?

If you're looking for simple yet delicious dishes to cook for a Chinese family dinner, there are plenty of options to choose from. Some popular Chinese dishes that are easy to prepare include stir-fried vegetables, fried rice, chow mein, sweet and sour chicken, and beef with broccoli. These dishes are quick to make and can be served with steamed rice or noodles.

Could you suggest easy Chinese recipes suitable for children?

If you're cooking for children, it's important to choose recipes that are not too spicy and have a mild flavour. Some easy Chinese recipes that are suitable for children include chicken and sweetcorn soup, egg fried rice, stir-fried noodles with vegetables, and sweet and sour pork. You can also try making dumplings with your children by using pre-made dumpling wrappers and filling them with minced pork or vegetables.

What are the top vegetarian dishes in Chinese cuisine that are easy to prepare?

Chinese cuisine has a wide variety of vegetarian dishes that are easy to prepare. Some popular vegetarian dishes include stir-fried mixed vegetables, tofu with black bean sauce, spicy eggplant, and vegetable fried rice. You can also try making vegetarian dumplings by filling them with chopped vegetables and mushrooms.

Can you recommend some beginner-friendly Chinese dishes?

If you're new to Chinese cooking, it's best to start with simple dishes that require few ingredients and are easy to make. Some beginner-friendly Chinese dishes include stir-fried vegetables, fried rice, egg drop soup, and kung pao chicken. You can also try making steamed dumplings with pre-made wrappers and filling them with minced pork or vegetables.

What would be ideal to serve at a casual Chinese dinner party?

If you're hosting a casual Chinese dinner party, you can serve a variety of dishes that are easy to prepare and can be shared among guests. Some popular dishes to serve at a Chinese dinner party include hot and sour soup, dumplings, kung pao chicken, stir-fried vegetables, and fried rice. You can also offer a selection of Chinese teas and desserts such as egg tarts or sesame balls.

Could you list five staple ingredients commonly found in Chinese cooking?

Chinese cooking uses a variety of ingredients, but some staples that are commonly found in Chinese cuisine include soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, ginger, and garlic. These ingredients are used in many Chinese dishes to add flavour and depth. If you're looking to add some seafood to your Chinese dishes, you can try using shrimp, scallops, or squid in stir-fries or soups.