How to Make A Chinese-Inspired Dinner at Home Tonight
The Panda Is Right!
C'mon, you've seen the TV commercial where the panda convinces the couple to cook a Chinese meal at home rather than ordering take-out. It turns out, the panda gives good advice.
Wanchai Ferry brand delivers on its promises of Chinese cuisine that tastes authentic and is quick, easy to make and economical.
Other brands that I've found to also deliver good taste and economical value to an Asian-inspired meal include Tai Pei brand egg rolls, La Choy brand chop suey vegetables and Kraft brand Asian Toasted Sesame dressing and marinade.
Consider these suggestions as starting points for your own made-at-home Chinese dinner. Once you get started, you'll create your own variations on the theme--and may throw away those take-out menus.
Suggested Menu for Chinese-Inspired Dinner
Egg Drop Soup
Wanchai Ferry Orange Chicken with La Choy Chop Suey Vegetables
Options for Chinese-Inspired Menu
Your options abound when it comes to Chinese and Asian inspired meals. You can create the entire meal from scratch, choose to go with prepackaged meal helpers, or a combination of the two.
For families on the go, and who isn't these days, the prepackaged options are especially great for week night dinners. The fact that using prepackaged options speed up preparation time is important, but so is the taste and nutrition of the meal itself.
I've served this meal menu to guests and have been asked more than once for my recipe.
Use whatever greens you prefer for a salad. It will be the garnishments and salad dressing that will lend an Asian flair.
Once you have your salad greens mixed, add extras such as sesame sticks, slivered almonds, pine nuts, cashews or dried Chinese peas. You really can't make any mistakes here. Creativity and family preferences should be your guide. Although not necessarily Asian-inspired, I like to add a few dried cranberries for an tart note.
Top your salad with Kraft brand Asian Toasted Sesame dressing and your salad preparation is complete.
Homemade Egg Drop Soup
Many Chinese and Asian restaurants serve a clear soup before the main meal. Egg drop soup is one such offering and is quick and easy to make at home.
The video below provides a step-by-step demonstration of how to make your own egg drop soup. This can be done at the same time you're preparing your main entree and egg rolls.
As with all the menu items here, you have latitude for making the recipe your own by adding or substituting ingredients. I like to add a few thawed peas and carrots to my egg drop soup. I add them just after I put the egg into the broth.
How to Make Egg Drop Soup
More Chinese-Inspired Cooking Ideas
Orange Chicken and Vegetable Egg Rolls
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees in preparation for baking the Tai Pei brand egg rolls.
For the orange chicken, you will need one pound of chicken, shrimp or pork. Cut the chicken or pork into cubes.
The Wanchai Ferry Orange Chicken comes with a pre-seasoned corn starch coating mixture. Bread your meat of choice with the coating mixture while you preheat a skillet with oil.
There is also a package of long grain white rice. In a sauce pan, mix the rice with water as directed and place on stove.Once rice has begun to boil, cover and lower heat. Rice should simmer about 20 minutes or until tender.
Place egg rolls on baking sheet and place in oven. Baking time is 15 to 20 minutes. The package advises to turn the egg rolls over once during baking, but my egg rolls have turned out nicely without this step.
The egg roll package also provides directions for cooking in a microwave oven. I've tried this method, but prefer the crispness of the egg roll wrappers when baked in a conventional oven.
By now your oil is hot. It's time to place the coated meat into the skillet. Cook the meat about seven minutes, stirring occasionally. During this time, you can add the optional dried red chili peppers that come in the package.
Once the meat is cooked through, stir in the provided orange sauce and one-third cup water.
The addition of one 28 ounce can of La Choy chop suey canned vegetables is my variation on the Wanchai Ferry package directions. There is a surprisingly ample amount of orange sauce with this entree, so it seemed to call for some Asian-inspired vegetables.
If you are adding vegetables, do so after the orange sauce is stirred into the meat. You could add some precooked stir fry vegetables or thawed frozen stir fry vegetable mix.
Cook the meat and sauce until heated through. I usually turn the heat down on the skillet to keep everything hot until my rice and egg rolls are ready.
A note on the chili peppers: Depending on how much heat and spice you like in a dish will determine if you use the chilies, or how long you let them in the sauce. I cook them in the sauce, but remove them before serving the meal.
The Tai Pei egg rolls come with two packets of dipping sauce; for my liking it is not enough sauce, so I augment with my own dipping sauce.
A fun and light touch for dessert after a satisfying meal.
Last But Not Least, Fortune Cookies
Believe it or not, fortune cookies are neither Chinese nor Asian inspired goodies. They were first made in San Francisco! Westerners, though, consider a fortune cookie after the meal as a Chinese tradition.
Whether Chinese or American cuisine, fortune cookies make a light, sweet touch to the end of the meal--and who can resist to read the fortune?