How to Make Chinese Food Takeout
Have you ever been to a Chinese take-out restaurant and thought about trying to make their food at home?
I love Chinese food, but find that some places tend to make the food extremely oily, and I usually end up avoiding this type of food when we go out to eat.
This week I decided to see what it took to make a decent take-out meal from home. It was also our weekly date night, and I didn't feel like using boring plastic containers, so I made the boxes as well.
If you're looking for something new and a little different for a meal idea - it doesn't have to be a romantic one - this is a fun recipe to try.
It's also perfect for getting more family members involved to work on the boxes while the food is being prepared.
And, the best part?
You can pack it all up and head off somewhere cool, like the beach or even your own back garden and have a picnic dinner!
How to Make the Box
I'm going to be honest - I made these boxes in a rush because I spent too much time on the food. So, please don't make the same mistake that I did - I'd suggest making the boxes first and then making the food.
- Buy an A1 or A2 piece of sturdy cardboard. This is going to hold food, so you need something that's not going to soak up anything or fall apart.
- White is the traditional colour of take-out boxes, but you can choose any colour.
- If you want to decorate the boxes with pictures or colours - get this at the same time.
- Also, buy any ribbons or wrapping you may want to cover the boxes in.
- You can also write Chinese letters or words on the boxes (something I ran out of time for as well).
- Use this template to make your box.
- Once you've cut it out, you can seal the bottom and sides together with glue or transparent tape.
- Leave the top open for the food to be added once cooked.
Try This Recipe!
Chinese Sweet and Sour Chicken with Rice
There are hundreds of recipes to choose from when deciding what type of food you want to put inside your take-out boxes.
I decided on sweet and sour chicken with white rice and colourful vegetables. This recipe is good because it's fairly quick and easy to make, and you can decide if you want to add the vegetables, or just eat the chicken with the rice and sauce.
- 2 x Chicken Breasts, Cubed
- 2 x Cups of Brocoli
- 2 x Large Carrots, Sliced
- 1/2 a Red Pepper, Chopped in strips
- 1/2 a Green Pepper, Chopped in strips
- 1/2 a Cup of Pineapple, Chopped
- 1/2 an Onion, Chopped
- 100g Cashew Nuts, Roughly Chopped
- 2 Tsp of Garlic, Minced
- 2 Tsp of Ginger, Minced
- 1/2 a Cup of Flour
- 1 tsp of Baking Powder
- 1 Egg
- 1/2 a Cup of Milk
- 1/2 Tbsp of Oil
- 1 Cup of Rice, Cooked
- 1/2 tsp of Salt
- Lay out all your ingredients onto the counter.
- Make sure that you have separate chopping boards, as raw chicken needs to be chopped on one, everything else can be chopped on the other.
- Have a sink full of warm, soapy water so that you can add the pans and dishes as you go along.
- Lay out two square pieces of tinfoil. This is where the food will be laid before being added to the boxes. The size depends on how much food you are using and the size of your boxes.
- Preheat the oven to 180o degrees (Celsius) or 356o degrees (Fahrenheit)
- Add the cashew nuts to an oven tray and bake for +/- 10 minutes until a light golden brown colour
- Set aside to cool
- Chop up roughly
- Cut up the chicken pieces into small cubes
- Cut up all the vegetables, dice the onions, garlic and ginger
- Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl
- Beat the egg in a separate bowl, and add the milk and oil
- Blend the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients
- Fry the garlic, ginger, cashew nuts and onions until fragrant, but not overcooked. (You can also add the nuts in at the end as they've already been toasted)
- Add in the peppers and leave for 3 - 4 minutes
- Add in the carrots and broccoli and leave for a few minutes, mixing gently occasionally
- Add the last of the ingredients - the pineapple, and simmer
- You can decide on how cooked you like your vegetables - personally, I don't enjoy soggy broccoli so cooking time in total was about 10 - 12 minutes
- Drop the cubed chicken into the batter
- Scoop a spoonful of chicken out at a time and place in a deep fryer or in a pan lined with oil
- Fry the chicken until its golden brown in colour
- Remove the chicken and place on a tray or plate lined with paper towels to soak up the excess oil
- Once cooked, leave the food for a few minutes to cool slightly
- Scoop half of the previously cooked rice onto each square piece of foil
- Add the chicken pieces and the vegetables on top
- Wrap up the foil into a pouch, making sure that all food is completely covered
- Place each pouch into the take-out boxes
- Seal the tops of each box
- Wrap or decorate the boxes and tie them with ribbon
Please don't forget one of the most important parts of the meal as I did - the sauce! Here's the sweet and sour sauce recipe I used but forgot at home when I was packing.
A few other things to remember to take with you for your dinner away from home:
- Chopsticks or forks
- Something to drink
- Towels or blankets to sit on
- A cooler bag or picnic basket to pack everything in
- A camera to take unforgettable pictures
- Fortune cookies or dessert
Melanie Chisnall is a full-time freelance writer from Cape Town, South Africa.
She enjoys experimenting and cooking with different ingredients in her spare time, she is addicted to The Food Network Channel, and her favourite food cuisines include Thai, Mexican, Moroccan and Indian.