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Try These Simple and Quick Chinese Dishes at Home – Easy Recipes to Follow

If you enjoy Chinese cuisine, you're probably aware of the special flavour that comes with a homemade dish. Recreating your favourite takeaway or experimenting with new recipes is easier than you think. By having a few key ingredients and mastering some basic cooking techniques, you can prepare a tasty meal in no time.

 

A table set with steaming bowls of stir-fried vegetables, rice, and dumplings. Chopsticks and a teapot complete the scene

One of the great things about Chinese cuisine is that it can be incredibly simple to prepare. Many dishes require just a handful of ingredients and can be made in under 30 minutes. From stir-fries to dumplings, there are plenty of easy Chinese dishes that you can try at home. And if you're looking to add some extra flavour and nutrition to your meals, you can even incorporate seafood into your recipes.

To help you get started, we've put together a guide to simple Chinese dishes that you can make at home. We'll cover everything from essential ingredients and cooking techniques to popular dish categories and classic recipes. So whether you're a seasoned chef or a beginner in the kitchen, you'll find plenty of inspiration for your next homemade Chinese meal.

Essential Ingredients and Substitutes

Fresh vegetables, tofu, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and rice. Optional substitutes: chicken, beef, or shrimp. A wok and cooking utensils on a clean kitchen counter

When it comes to making simple Chinese dishes, having a well-stocked pantry is key. Here are some essential ingredients and substitutes that you should always have on hand:

Common Proteins

  • Chicken: boneless, skinless chicken breast or thigh meat is a versatile protein that can be used in a variety of Chinese dishes.
  • Beef: flank steak or sirloin are good options for stir-fries and noodle dishes.
  • Pork: pork shoulder or pork belly can be used in dishes like char siu (Chinese BBQ pork) or stir-fries.
  • Seafood: shrimp, scallops, and squid are all great options for Chinese dishes. If you're feeling adventurous, try using crab or lobster in your next stir-fry.

Vegetables and Greens

  • Bok choy: a leafy green vegetable that is commonly used in Chinese cooking.
  • Broccoli: a versatile vegetable that can be used in stir-fries and noodle dishes.
  • Carrots: thinly sliced or julienned carrots add color and crunch to Chinese dishes.
  • Snow peas: a crunchy vegetable that is often used in stir-fries.
  • Mushrooms: shiitake mushrooms are commonly used in Chinese cooking, but you can also use button mushrooms or oyster mushrooms.

Sauces and Seasonings

  • Soy sauce: a salty, umami-rich sauce that is used in almost all Chinese dishes.
  • Oyster sauce: a thick, savory sauce made from oysters that adds depth of flavor to stir-fries and noodle dishes.
  • Sesame oil: a fragrant oil that is used as a finishing oil in Chinese cooking.
  • Cornstarch: a thickening agent that is commonly used in Chinese sauces.
  • Rice vinegar: a mild vinegar that is used in marinades and sauces.
  • Hoisin sauce: a sweet and savory sauce that is often used in stir-fries and as a dipping sauce.

When it comes to substitutions, you can use chicken broth or vegetable broth in place of oyster sauce. If you don't have sesame oil, you can use vegetable oil instead. If you don't have cornstarch, you can use potato starch or arrowroot starch. And if you don't have rice vinegar, you can use white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar.

Remember, having a well-stocked pantry is the key to making delicious Chinese dishes at home. With these essential ingredients and substitutions, you'll be able to make a variety of dishes without having to make a trip to the grocery store.

Cooking Techniques and Kitchen Tools

A wok sizzles over a gas flame as a chef tosses vegetables with a metal spatula. Nearby, a cleaver rests on a wooden cutting board next to a pile of fresh ingredients

Stir-Frying Basics

Stir-frying is a popular Chinese cooking technique that involves cooking small pieces of food quickly over high heat in a wok. To stir-fry, you will need a wok, which is a versatile kitchen tool that can be used for a variety of cooking methods. When stir-frying, it is important to prepare all of your ingredients in advance and have them ready to go, as the cooking process goes very quickly.

To stir-fry, heat your wok over high heat until it is hot but not smoking. Add your oil in a circular motion to get the oil around the perimeter of the wok. Then, add your ingredients in the order of longest to shortest cooking time, stirring constantly. You can add a variety of meats and vegetables to your stir-fry, including seafood such as shrimp or scallops.

Steaming and Boiling

Steaming and boiling are other popular cooking techniques used in Chinese cuisine. To steam, you will need a bamboo steamer, which is a traditional Chinese kitchen tool. Simply place your food in the steamer basket and place the basket over a pot of boiling water. Cover the pot with a lid and let the steam cook your food.

Boiling is another simple cooking technique that can be used for a variety of Chinese dishes. To boil, simply bring a pot of water to a boil and add your ingredients. You can boil a variety of foods, including noodles, dumplings, and vegetables.

The Art of Wok Cooking

Wok cooking is an art form in Chinese cuisine. To master the art of wok cooking, it is important to have the right tools and techniques. In addition to a wok, you will need a spider strainer to scoop out food from the wok and a cleaver to chop your ingredients.

When using a wok, it is important to preheat it before you start cooking and make sure all of the moisture has evaporated before you add your oil. You should also add your oil in a circular motion to get the oil around the perimeter of the wok. With the right tools and techniques, you can create delicious homemade Chinese dishes in no time.

Remember, when cooking with seafood, it is important to choose fresh, high-quality ingredients. You can use a variety of seafood in your Chinese dishes, including shrimp, scallops, and fish. Be sure to prepare your seafood properly and cook it to the appropriate temperature to ensure it is safe to eat.

Popular Dish Categories

A table set with various simple Chinese dishes, including steamed dumplings, stir-fried vegetables, and fried rice

Chinese cuisine is known for its wide variety of dishes, from stir-fries and noodles to dumplings and dim sum. Here are some of the most popular categories of Chinese dishes that you can easily make at home.

Stir-Fries and Noodles

Stir-fries and noodles are some of the easiest and most versatile dishes in Chinese cuisine. You can use a variety of meats, vegetables, and sauces to create a dish that suits your taste. Some popular stir-fry dishes include chow mein and lo mein. These dishes typically use thin noodles that are stir-fried with vegetables and meat. You can use chicken, beef, pork, or seafood in your stir-fry. If you want to add seafood to your stir-fry, you can use shrimp, squid, or scallops.

Dumplings and Dim Sum

Dumplings and dim sum are popular Chinese dishes that are perfect for a quick snack or a light meal. Dumplings can be filled with a variety of ingredients, such as pork, beef, chicken, or vegetables. Potstickers are a type of dumpling that are pan-fried on one side and steamed on the other. Dim sum is a type of small dish that is served in bamboo baskets. Some popular dim sum dishes include shrimp dumplings and pork buns.

Hearty Soups and Stews

Chinese cuisine is also known for its hearty soups and stews. Wonton soup is a popular dish that features small dumplings filled with pork or shrimp. The dumplings are served in a clear broth with vegetables and noodles. Hot and sour soup is another popular dish that features a spicy and tangy broth with mushrooms, tofu, and bamboo shoots. If you want to add seafood to your soup or stew, you can use fish, shrimp, or crab.

By trying out these popular dish categories, you can easily create delicious and authentic Chinese dishes in the comfort of your own home. Don't be afraid to experiment with different ingredients and flavours to create a dish that suits your taste.

Classic Recipes to Try at Home

A wok sizzles with stir-fried vegetables and meats, while a pot simmers with fragrant broth. Steam rises as chopsticks hover over a bowl of steaming noodles

If you're looking to cook up some classic Chinese dishes at home, you're in luck. With a few simple ingredients and some basic cooking techniques, you can whip up some delicious meals that will rival your favourite takeout joint. Here are some classic recipes to try at home.

Fried Rice Variations

Fried rice is a staple in Chinese cuisine, and it's easy to see why. It's a versatile dish that can be made with just about any meat, vegetable, or seafood you have on hand. To make a basic fried rice, start by cooking some rice and letting it cool. Then, heat up some oil in a wok or large frying pan and add in your choice of protein and vegetables. Once they're cooked through, add in the rice and stir-fry everything together. You can add in some soy sauce, oyster sauce, or other seasonings to taste.

For a seafood twist on fried rice, try adding in some shrimp or crab meat. You can also make a vegetarian version by using tofu or just sticking to vegetables.

Iconic Chicken Dishes

When it comes to Chinese cuisine, chicken is a popular protein choice. Some iconic chicken dishes include kung pao chicken, orange chicken, sweet and sour chicken, and general tso's chicken. To make kung pao chicken, you'll need some diced chicken, peanuts, vegetables, and a spicy sauce made from soy sauce, vinegar, and chili paste. Orange chicken is made with battered and fried chicken pieces that are coated in a sweet and tangy orange sauce. Sweet and sour chicken features battered and fried chicken that's coated in a sweet and sour sauce made from sugar, vinegar, and ketchup. General tso's chicken is similar to orange chicken, but it's a bit spicier and has a thicker sauce.

If you're looking for a healthier chicken dish, try making cashew chicken or chicken and broccoli. Cashew chicken features stir-fried chicken, cashews, and vegetables in a light sauce made from soy sauce and oyster sauce. Chicken and broccoli is a simple stir-fry dish that's made with chicken, broccoli, and a light sauce made from soy sauce and cornstarch.

Vegetarian Delights

Chinese cuisine is also known for its vegetarian dishes. Some popular options include stir-fried vegetables, tofu dishes, and vegetable dumplings. Stir-fried vegetables can be made with just about any combination of veggies you have on hand, and you can add in some tofu or cashews for extra protein. Tofu dishes can be made with fried or stir-fried tofu, and you can use it in place of meat in many recipes. Vegetable dumplings are a tasty appetizer or main dish that can be filled with a variety of veggies and seasonings.

If you're looking to add some seafood to your vegetarian dishes, try making a stir-fry with shrimp or scallops. You can also make a seafood hotpot with fish, shrimp, and vegetables in a flavorful broth.

Tips for Healthier Chinese Cooking

A wok sizzles with fresh vegetables and lean protein, surrounded by colorful spices and herbs. A steaming pot of whole grain rice sits nearby

Chinese cuisine is known for its bold flavours and rich textures, but it can also be high in salt, sugar, and unhealthy fats. However, with a few simple swaps and techniques, you can enjoy delicious Chinese dishes that are also healthier and fresher. Here are some tips to get you started:

Reducing Salt and Sugar

Chinese dishes are often loaded with salt and sugar, which can be detrimental to your health. To reduce the amount of salt and sugar in your dishes, try using low-sodium soy sauce and oyster sauce, or substitute them with healthier alternatives such as coconut aminos or tamari. You can also sweeten your dishes with natural sweeteners such as honey or maple syrup instead of refined sugar.

Choosing Leaner Proteins

Protein is an essential nutrient for your body, but some Chinese dishes can be high in unhealthy fats and calories. To make your dishes healthier, choose leaner proteins such as chicken breast, shrimp, or tofu. Seafood is also a great option for Chinese dishes, and you can use seafood such as salmon or cod for dishes like stir-fry or noodles.

Incorporating More Vegetables

Vegetables are a great way to add more nutrients and fibre to your Chinese dishes. Green onions, bell peppers, and broccoli beef are all great options for Chinese dishes. You can also experiment with different vegetables such as bok choy, snow peas, or water chestnuts. Try to use a variety of colourful vegetables to make your dishes more visually appealing and nutritious.

By following these tips, you can enjoy delicious and healthier Chinese dishes that are easy to make at home. Experiment with different flavours and ingredients to create your own unique dishes that are both healthy and satisfying.

Frequently Asked Questions

A table set with various Chinese dishes, including stir-fried vegetables, steamed dumplings, and noodles. A chef's hat and apron are neatly placed nearby

What's a great starter Chinese dish for someone new to cooking?

If you are new to Chinese cooking, a great starter dish to try is stir-fried vegetables. This dish is easy to make and requires only a few ingredients such as broccoli, carrots, and snow peas. You can also add some protein like chicken or tofu if you want. Stir-fried vegetables are healthy, delicious, and a great way to get started with Chinese cooking.

Can you suggest five Chinese meals that are favourites among diners?

Sure, here are five popular Chinese meals that are loved by many diners:

  • Kung Pao Chicken: a spicy stir-fry dish with chicken, peanuts, and vegetables.
  • Sweet and Sour Pork: a classic dish with crispy pork, pineapple, and bell peppers in a sweet and sour sauce.
  • Beef and Broccoli: tender beef and broccoli stir-fried in a savoury sauce.
  • Hot and Sour Soup: a tangy soup with mushrooms, tofu, and bamboo shoots.
  • Dumplings: steamed or fried dumplings filled with meat or vegetables.

What's a typical dish I might find on a Chinese home cooking menu?

A typical dish you might find on a Chinese home cooking menu is fried rice. This dish is made with leftover rice, eggs, vegetables, and sometimes meat. It's a great way to use up leftovers and create a tasty meal. Another popular dish is stir-fried noodles with vegetables and meat.

What are some Chinese dishes that kids would absolutely love?

Kids love sweet and sour chicken, vegetable fried rice, and chow mein. You can also include some dumplings or spring rolls as appetizers. For seafood, kids would enjoy shrimp fried rice or sweet and sour shrimp.

Could you share some simple recipes for a Chinese-style dinner?

Sure, here are some simple Chinese-style dinner recipes:

  • Stir-fried chicken with vegetables: marinate chicken in soy sauce and stir-fry with vegetables like broccoli, bell peppers, and onions.
  • Steamed fish with ginger and scallions: top a fish fillet with ginger and scallions and steam until cooked.
  • Beef and broccoli stir-fry: stir-fry beef with broccoli in a savoury sauce.
  • Shrimp fried rice: stir-fry shrimp with leftover rice, eggs, and vegetables.
  • Vegetable chow mein: stir-fry noodles with vegetables like cabbage, carrots, and onions.

Are there any easy-to-make Chinese desserts I should try?

Yes, you can try making mango pudding or red bean soup. Mango pudding is a creamy dessert made with mango puree, cream, and gelatin. Red bean soup is a sweet soup made with red beans, sugar, and sometimes coconut milk. Both of these desserts are easy to make and are delicious.