Getting take-out is great when you need to get dinner on the table in a pinch, but often times, the ingredients used can carry excess fat and calories. Making your own "take-out" substitutes at home is a wonderful way to control both the quality of ingredients as well as the fat and calorie count.
Chinese is one of my favorite types of take-out and after fiddling around with some recipes; I've developed my own for creating the perfect Chinese style dishes right at home.
For an appetizer try a Chinese Scallion Pizza. For the pizza, combine 2 cups bread flour, 1.4 tsp. baking powder, 2 teaspoons of oil and a pinch of salt in a large mixing bowl. Next, bring a cup of water to boil, and then add the flour mixture, stirring with a spoon until it's cool enough to knead with your hands. Knead until dough is well combined and then transfer to a well-oiled bowl, cover with a towel and allow to rise for about an hour. Next, divide the dough into 12 sections, rolling each section into a ball, and then flattening into a 1/8-inch thick circle. After making all the circles, brush them with oil, then sprinkle with coarse sea salt and sprinkle with chopped scallions. Then, simple coil the roll-up dough and then flatten it with your palm, this will distribute the scallions well. To cook, heat a skillet with oil and pan-fry each cake for at least 7 to 10 minutes, serving hot.
Lo Mein is another easy at home dish. Cook eight ounces of pasta (spaghetti or linguine are good choices) according to package directions, drain and put back in the pot to keep warm. Add about a cup of chopped celery, bell peppers, mushrooms, snow peas, sliced carrot, and about a pound of bean sprouts. Next, you'll just need to whip up a sauce by heating about 1 cup of soy sauce in a saucepan with about ¼ cup chicken stock and 1 tablespoon dry white wine. Allow to heat while mixing about one tablespoon cornstarch with one tablespoon water, then add cornstarch mixture to the heated sauce, increasing the heat and allowing the sauce to thicken. Pour over veggies and pasta and serve. You can double the sauce recipe if you prefer more sauce with your noodles.
For the main dish, it doesn't get easier than Sesame Chicken with plain white rice. Prepare the rice according to the package directions and set aside, keeping warm. Heat oil in a large saucepan, adding a few chilies or red pepper flakes to infuse the oil with heat. Next, dredge cut up chicken breast in beaten egg yolks, then dip into a mixture of ½ cup cornstarch mixed with two tablespoons each all-purpose flour, paprika and red pepper flakes. Immediately start cooking breaded chicken in the hot pepper oil. Cook each piece for a few minutes of each side, and then allow cooked chicken to drain on paper towels. For the sauce, add one-cup soy sauce, 1.4-cup chicken stock, two tablespoons brown sugar, 1 tsp. Red wine vinegar and 2 crushed garlic cloves to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. This will reduce your sauce, and thicken it. Pour sauce over chicken and rice then sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.
Serve your meal on flat plates with chopsticks instead of regular utensils. Having tea or sake with dinner completes the experience; you'll never miss Chinese take-out after this!