Besides Mexican food, there's one other culinary treat that expats - and speaking from experience, California expats especially - miss terribly: Chinese food. And I don't mean the authentic you-ate-it-in-China stuff, I mean the bastardized, made-for-American's-palate kind. You know the kind you eat out of white cartons because somehow it tastes even better that way? The kind Kramer ordered with extra MSG? Yeah, that's the stuff.
Since discovering Germans have Thai food on every corner, but Chinese is next to non-existent, I decided to take matters into my own hands. These dishes are the perfect thing to satiate those white take-out carton cravings. While all the chopping and the whole chicken-coating process can be a little time-consuming/messy, these are pretty easy recipes for things I could imagine, when done the authentic way, might require boatloads more effort. It's like CliffsNotes for Chinese food. Like us, I'm sure you will keep coming back to these recipes time and again. They're that good.
Sweet & Sour Chicken
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
salt & pepper
1 cup cornstarch
2 eggs, beaten
1 medium-sized onion, cut into large pieces
1/4 cup canola oil
whole pre-cut and pre-cored pineapple, cut into chunks
1 red bell pepper, cut into chunks
1 cup store-bought sweet & sour sauce
Preheat oven to 325°F/163°C and grease a 9x13"/22x33cm baking dish. Season chicken with salt and pepper, coat with corn starch and then dip into the egg. Heat the oil in a large skillet and cook chicken until browned, but not cooked through - adding the onions about half-way through to soften. Put chicken and onions into greased baking dish along with pineapple and bell pepper. Pour sweet and sour sauce over and toss very gently to coat. Bake for one hour, turning over contents of dish every 15 minutes.
3 cups cooked white rice (day old or leftover rice works best)
3 tbsp roasted sesame oil
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/2 cup carrots, chopped into small pieces
1 small onion, chopped
2 tsp garlic, minced
4 green onions, thinly sliced (light green part only)
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 cup soy sauce
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the peas, carrots, onions and garlic, stir fry until tender. Add green onions and push over to one side, lowering the heat to medium. Add egg to other side of skillet and stir fry until scrambled. Break apart the rice (if using cold leftovers) and add to skillet with soy sauce. Blend together well and cook until heated through.
Serves 4, very generously
adapted from this Life in the Lofthouse recipe