Chinese New Year, which occurs on February 5, 2019, is cause for celebration. Whether or not you live near one of America’s great Chinatowns, people have Chinese food on the brain. It’s one of the world’s finest cuisines, and thanks to the enormity of its native country, it has many incarnations. So whether you’re in the mood for potstickers or dumplings, stir-fries or peanut noodles, mapo tofu or xiao long bao (soup dumplings), there’s a dish for you.
Here are a few of our favorite weeknight-friendly Chinese and Chinese-American recipes, from 20-minute wok-based numbers to potstickers from one of San Francisco’s finest chefs.
If you can make meatballs, you can make dumplings. These potstickers from Chef-Owner, Brandon Jew, of Mister Jiu’s in San Francisco, California, are meaty without being too heavy. TKTKT Fresh ginger, carrot, garlic and cilantro keep their texture interesting, and sesame oil and mirin perfume the mixture inside. Our only caveat: Once you realize how easy it is to make dumplings, you may not be able to stop making them.
In this easy riff on traditional Chinese pork buns, we use quick-cooking pork tenderloin instead of the more common pork belly or spareribs, which cuts down on the cooking time substantially. And, because making folded Chinese buns can be a bit tricky, here we use store-bought buns, which can be found in the freezer section of most stores specializing in Asian groceries. Bright, crunchy spiralized vegetables dressed with rice vinegar add a welcome brightness to the savory pork buns.
Some Chinese staples are so much easier to make than you’d think. Peanut noodles are one of them. This recipe for peanut noodles with seared beef is packed with protein and can be ready in less than 45 minutes on a busy weeknight. Garnishes of fresh ginger and a flurry of chopped cilantro keep the whole thing as light as it is delicious.
Non-carnivores need peanut-sauce fixes, too, and this baked tofu recipe is a great way to deliver them. Tofu and peanut butter are the primary protein sources, and the dish goes into the oven, not into the wok, so it’s a little healthier than you might suspect. Meaty shiitakes and snappy green beans give the whole thing oomph and texture.
If it’s been a minute since you’ve had eggplant prepared in a traditional Chinese style, let today be the day you remember how great it is. Sichuan-style eggplant with tofu is a dreamy vegan dish, and it doesn’t require as much oil as you might think. Eggplant is first steamed, then briefly wok-fried, getting a bath in a marvelous black bean-garlic sauce before being plated.
This is the year of the Pig, so it’s only right that pork should make the list. Incredibly, the Chinese takeout staple of mu shu pork comes together in just half an hour at home. (And in a pinch, you can use corn tortillas instead of the traditional wrappers.) The secrets to its potency include a sauté with fresh ginger, hot pepper flakes and scallions, plus a super-savory sauce made from hoisin, ginger, soy sauce and dry sherry.
Don’t throw away that leftover rice! It’s crying out to be fried and plated with shrimp and vegetables, as in this fried rice with shrimp and broccolini recipe. About half an hour, a pack of shrimp, and some fresh broccolini are about all you need to make this dish fabulous. Sriracha and chopped cilantro add welcome finishing notes of heat and freshness.
Craving a meatier weeknight stir-fry? Consider this chicken broccoli cashew rendition. Packed with protein and boasting an umami-laden sauce spiked with oyster sauce (the secret to many excellent takeout dishes), it’s a snap to make on a busy night. The chicken benefits from a technique called “velveting,” in which cornstarch is used to give it a silky texture.
That pantry staple, peanut butter, makes yet another cameo in these knockout, simple sesame noodles with green beans and tofu. They’re just the thing to bring to a potluck, since they don’t need to be hot (and are in fact better cool). We like how jam-packed with vegetables the recipe is, and how by calling them “peanut butter noodles” you may just get a kid to eat them!
Lamb is one of those simple-to-cook meats we forget about too often. This recipe for stir-fried lamb with broccoli and mushrooms showcases it at its best. The delightful trio of fish sauce, sesame oil and oyster sauce make a cameo here, lending the meat, broccoli and button mushrooms a lovely bouquet and flavor. Unexpected finishing spritzes of lime and fresh mint brighten the whole dish.