Dinner/ Ethnic Food/ Recipes

delicious chinese food at home

The other night, I slapped a band-aid on my knee, wrapped up my cake and headed out to a very special dinner at Cindy’s house.

Why was it so special?

Because Cindy taught us how to make delicious Chinese food at home!

Ashley and I have been telling Cindy that she needs to teach us how to cook real Chinese food for months now, and last night was finally the night!

Cindy’s about to move to Cambodia (!!) to do medical mission work so this was a great final farewell.

On the menu was a Cantonese beef dish with carrots and radish, a tofu “cold dish” (Cindy says it’s just called “tofu cold dish”?) with sesame oil, green onions and turnip preserves), fluffy jasmine rice and bok choy stir fry with chicken.

Cindy’s number one culinary rule? When in doubt, add soy sauce!

So, first up: the beef!

This is a Cantonese-style dish that Cindy’s mom made all the time when Cindy was growing up. It almost seemed like half pot roast half beef stew to me and was extremely comforting and delicious. The only downside is that you have to cook it for three hours, but that makes the meat literally melt in your mouth!

“Soy Sauce Meat”

serves 4

1.5 lbs chuck roast

1 T sesame oil

2 very large carrots, sliced thick

1 long white radish (daikon), sliced thick

5 cloves garlic, chopped

2 star anise

1 cup soy sauce

5 slices fresh ginger

3 chopped green onions

2 cups water (about)

In a large dutch oven, brown the meat in the oil over medium high heat.

Add one cup of the soy sauce, the sliced ginger and garlic and add just enough water to cover everything. Bring to a boil then reduce heat, cover and simmer for thirty minutes.

After thirty minutes, add the carrots, radish and star anise. Cover with the rest of the water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer (covered) again for three hours.

We also had tofu! This was my favorite and so easy to make….I might actually make more for myself today!

Tofu “Cold Dish”

serves 4

1 package soft tofu (we used firm, which I liked, but Cindy said it’s best with soft or silken)

1 T sesame oil

2 T soy sauce

2 green onions, chopped

2 tsp sriracha

1 T chopped turnip preserves (available at Asian markets)

sprinkle of sesame seeds

Drain the tofu and chop into cubes. Put in a large bowl and toss with all other ingredients. Serve!

Brief intermission to tell you that we decided that Cindy really should be the Chinese version of Giada and have her own Asian cooking show. Don’t you think?

Okay, maybe I’m just really bummed that she’s leaving me and moving all the way to Cambodia!

Finally, we had bok choy stir fry!

I have to admit, as more of a baker than a “cook”, stir frying has always kinda freaked me out.

I guess because you have to go so fast or else you’ll burn everything! Cindy made it look easy though and Ashley and I decided we could totally do this at home. And, if we burn things we’ll just skype Cindy in and have her help us out. Everyone loves a virtual dinner party!

This was super easy though, so even a stir fry novice could totally do it. You just chop up the bok choy (Cindy buys hers from the Asian market and says to wash it twice to get rid of all the sand!) and drop it in a hot wok with some sesame oil and…soy sauce!

Cindy also added some chicken that she tossed in cornstarch, and then seasoned it with a little sea salt. It was ready in five minutes and tasted great!

Random side-note: I won a Cuisinart rice cooker last year at the Foodbuzz conference and then never received it! I never really missed it until now, after tasting Cindy’s perfectly cooked and fluffy jasmine rice.

Thanks, Cindy, for such a fabulous girl’s night dinner!

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  • Jessica @ How Sweet It Is
    October 20, 2010 at 8:14 am

    I need to try that meat! I have only made sweet and sour chicken before and it is a dish that my husband asks for every week. I’d love to have a bit of variety.

  • Beth @ Beth's Journey to Thin
    October 20, 2010 at 8:23 am

    My gosh that food looks AMAZING. I would love to have a lesson in Chinese cooking!!

  • Meaghen
    October 20, 2010 at 8:34 am

    My boyfriend loves beef and that dish looks awesome. And carrots are one of the few veggies he will eat so it’s a bonus!

  • Annie@stronghealthyfit
    October 20, 2010 at 8:37 am

    That looks awesome! I’ve been thinking about eating beef more often, maybe once a month, and stir fry would be a great way to have it!

  • Amanda (Eating Up)
    October 20, 2010 at 8:41 am

    That tofu looks delicious! And bok choy is one of my favorite veggies. I love Chinese food mmm.

  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat
    October 20, 2010 at 8:44 am

    I love Cambodian food but every time I try to cook it myself it always just turns out the same – and definitely doesn’t taste like in a restaurant! My roommate was Chinese and used to have a rice cooker at our house – I would have totally used it all the time but she never cleaned it properly… probably a wise move on her part to keep me away!

  • Bethany @ More Fruit Please
    October 20, 2010 at 8:51 am

    Everything looks so fresh and delicious!! Much better than normal takeout! I usually find Asian food to be a bit intimidating and have never tried making it myself.

  • Dorry
    October 20, 2010 at 8:51 am

    What a wonderful cooking experience! It’s awesome to learn new techniques and recipes from friends. I love Chinese food but don’t order take-out much. Excited to try my hand at it in my own kitchen!

  • Heather @ Side of Sneakers
    October 20, 2010 at 8:52 am

    Real Chinese food? Delicious! That looks SO much better than the stuff that comes to my door crammed in a little foil box. I really want to try that tofu dish!

  • Alexia @ Dimple Snatcher
    October 20, 2010 at 8:55 am

    love this post, esp. the tofu recipe.
    chinese takeout is my vice.
    lovelovelove the stuff although it does the most unkind things to my skin. thanks for the healthy version!

  • Tabitha (From Single to Married)
    October 20, 2010 at 8:57 am

    That looks so good!

  • eatmovelove
    October 20, 2010 at 9:05 am

    I love the beef and the tofu!

    What a party. Is Cindy from CA and leaving home? Good Luck to her – she has a great smile – she could definitely be a Giada! 🙂

  • Katie
    October 20, 2010 at 9:06 am

    Wow, she is beautiful!

  • Camille
    October 20, 2010 at 9:19 am

    You should make sure that you get your rice cooker! That is too good to pass up!

  • Megan (Braise The Roof)
    October 20, 2010 at 9:23 am

    I love cooking parties like that! And the food looks delicious- well done, Cindy!

  • Krystina (Organically Me)
    October 20, 2010 at 9:25 am

    That tofu dish looks so easy and good!

  • Amber K
    October 20, 2010 at 9:27 am

    That would be so fun to learn something like that from a friend and expert! It looks great, although I don’t eat meat and the last time I tried to stir fry tofu in turned into weird little slimy clumps that I had to pick out!

  • Chicago Cuisine Critique
    October 20, 2010 at 9:36 am

    That dish looks delicious!

  • jenna
    October 20, 2010 at 9:42 am

    everything looks so authentic and full of flavor! I love stir fry’s! mmmm…It’s lunch time and now all i want is bok choy and soy sauce meat! 🙂

  • Moni'sMeals
    October 20, 2010 at 9:42 am

    Thanks for bringing us along for the great food experience. Wow. I will be adding this to the list for sure.
    Your friend is so great to move to Cambodia for a medical mission, good for her.
    Thanks for this recipe, the “Tofu Cold Press” is totally my style. 😉

  • Heather (Heather's Dish)
    October 20, 2010 at 9:56 am

    i am SOOOOOOO bad at asian food…but i love it! this sounds awesome…and way to go cindy for being awesome and reaching out into the world like that 🙂

  • Jasmine @ Eat Move Write
    October 20, 2010 at 10:00 am

    That looks like a fun dinner. That bokchoy stir fry is right up my alley. How awesome that she’s moving to Cambodia. What a great thing. Congrats to her!

  • megan @ whatmegansmaking
    October 20, 2010 at 10:08 am

    After spending a summer in China a few years ago, I became addicted to good Chinese food. I’ve made a few things at home (dumplings!), but I need to make more. It’s so good!

  • Gavi @ GaviGetsGoing!
    October 20, 2010 at 10:12 am

    MMMMM, the “tofu cold dish” looks divine. I wish I had a rice cooker and a wok! It would definitely make Chinese home cooking easier and tastier. Stir-fry is just not quite as good in a regular old pan, as the veggies don’t really crisp as well as they do in a wok. Everything looks delicious!

  • Allison K
    October 20, 2010 at 10:18 am

    hmm. I need to try that tofu dish!

  • natalie (the sweets life)
    October 20, 2010 at 10:19 am

    all of this looks awesome! Chinese food is one of those that I prefer to make at home because it’s way better for you, I just need to be better about forcing myself to do it! We have great Asian markets near where I live in STL!

    ps. you need to get that rice cooker! a year late is better than never, right? 🙂

  • Mansee
    October 20, 2010 at 10:21 am

    Oh this is so exciting to me. I recently just developed a really really bad allergy to nuts so I can’t go out for chinese anymore (because I’ve been told a lot of places cook their food in peanut oil) so I’ve been meaning to make some for myself. Thanks for the recipes!

  • Gloria
    October 20, 2010 at 10:23 am

    My lord that bok choy looks so deliciously fresh! Can’t wait to go raid my Asian market for turnip preserves and make that tofu dish.

  • LizLivingVegan
    October 20, 2010 at 10:26 am

    Ah, that is so cool that you got to make authentic Chinese food!!!

  • Liz @ Tip Top Shape
    October 20, 2010 at 10:36 am

    Love that tofu dish!! So simple but I bet it packs lots of flavor.

  • Suzanne de Cornelia
    October 20, 2010 at 10:53 am

    All looks great & fun. LOVE anything with baby bok choy. Off to Whole Foods now for ingredients. Thanks for this. Good fortune to Cindy in Cambodia!

  • Mary (What's Cookin' with Mary)
    October 20, 2010 at 10:57 am

    I am a freak and LOVE cold tofu right out of the box. WEIRD, right ? Cindy’s Tofu Cold Dish looks SO good. Would just take me a few extra minutes to add a little flavor… love that! Thanks Cindy!! I also love that I pretty much have the recipe memorized, which means I will actually make it 😀

  • Dani @ Dani Does It
    October 20, 2010 at 11:01 am

    Looks delish! Stir fry scares the bejeesus out of me too! Do you stir fry all the way on high on the stove or a little less than that? I can never seem to get it right…

  • Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga)
    October 20, 2010 at 11:10 am

    What a great girls night! I love bok choy and always get TONS in my CSA box. The best way to eat bok choy IMO is to stir fry it…random but it’s a great plant-based source of calcium. That and sesame seeds are two biggies but calcium fortified aside, 🙂 I love bok choy!

    Rice cooker…I have been wanting to get one for awhile now and lately I am seeing so much rice cooker talk around… I hope you get yours one way or the other!


  • Brenna (fabuleuxdestin)
    October 20, 2010 at 11:18 am

    Yes I need a rice cooker. Looks like a lovely night cooking with friends 🙂

  • Kelly
    October 20, 2010 at 11:19 am

    Asian Food is my favorite all time food. Anytime anyone wants to go out to dinner I am always either suggesting Chinese or Sushi. I can eat my weight in both and still go back for more. I think that Asian buffet places seriously lose money on me!

  • Sana
    October 20, 2010 at 11:44 am

    So real Chinese food is not take out?!!?!?!?

  • Jenny
    October 20, 2010 at 11:49 am

    That looks great! I’ve had real homemade chinese food ONCE and it was just amazing. Takeout just isn’t that fab.

  • Hope
    October 20, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    I love cooking stir fry! You have to cut everything up and put it in bowls so when you start there’s no stopping – makes me feel like I’m on my own cooking show at home!

  • katie
    October 20, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    you need to call them to get your rice cooker! those jerks!

  • Sara
    October 20, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    Do you think you could do the beef in a slow cooker? How long would the entire dish cook on low? Thoughts?

  • Natalia - a side of simple
    October 20, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    Lovin’ me some Chinese food this week for sure 🙂

  • Cara Craves...
    October 20, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    Yum, looks really flavorful!

  • Cindy
    October 20, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    Hey ! Thanks for the well wishes to Cambodia everyone! I’m super excited for my trip. These dishes are relatively simple, and are great when you want a good healthy meal. Just a few corrections to the recipes….For the beef dish, I used a 1/2 tsp sugar, and just olive oil, not sesame oil. I also just threw the garlic cloves in slightly crushed. And for the bok choy dish I used sesame oil and soy sauce to season the meat prior to covering it in cornstarch before frying, but for frying the bok choy just use regular olive/cooking oil. Sesame oil tends to take over the flavor of anything its added to and then all the dishes end up tasting the same. Sorry I didn’t write it all down for you Jenna! It was really nice having you girls over for dinner 🙂

  • chelsey @ clean eating chelsey
    October 20, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    That looks like such a fun time. It is really cool that your friend was able to share how to make a traditional Chinese dish!

  • Lida
    October 20, 2010 at 6:14 pm

    There’s really no reason to be intimidated by stir-frying…. I literally cooked 3 dishes just now on my induction burner in my dorm room: Eggs in tomato sauce, bok choy and glass noodles, and slow-cooked eggplant with star anise. Plus brown rice.
    Chinese food is one of the most forgiving cuisines, because as you said…. add soy sauce. Or vinegar. Or garlic. Or whatever.
    The “cold tofu” is sometimes just silken tofu drizzled with soy sauce, sesame oil and chopped scallions (and hot sauce if you want it). So refreshing on a hot day…

  • JenE
    December 15, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    Help! I need an easy way to print your recipes…. now I just cut and paste them into Word. Am I missing something?

    • jenna
      December 15, 2010 at 3:14 pm

      I’m working on that! A print button should be up soon! Sorry!

  • JenE
    January 16, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    These are all delicious, and EASY. The flavors of the different foods in this post complement one another so well… I’ve never really cooked asian food before and these all came out really well for me.

  • JenE
    January 16, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    ps I’m making all three of these for the 2nd time. You say you’re more of a baker but (kudos to you) I find your savory recipes to be among my favorites.

  • Sharon
    February 25, 2013 at 7:27 pm

    Do you ever include nutritional breakdows/counts with your recipes?? I am a diabetic with stage 4 chronic kidney disease so I am vey careful about watching my intake units of certain foods/spices. Yourhave not tried them since I don’t have nutritional recipes sound so delicious and healthy, but