Healthy Chinese cooking

13 Nov

Despite the fact that I was raised on delicious Thai food growing up, and that my parents owned a fabulous restaurant, I just loved eating bad Chinese food in college.  You know what I’m talking about… the kind of entrees where the “chicken” is triple battered and the greasy noodles saturate the cardboard take-out box.  I’m not sure why I wasted my money on such meals. I guess I could blame it on my youthful ignorance, or maybe it was because my palette had not yet matured.  But, alas, I have grown up and I would like to think that I have a higher standard for food these days.  For example, I only prefer twice fried real chicken (or pork).

This is not to say that I don’t love a good Chinese meal.  One of our favorite restaurants is actually a Chinese place located in Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood called the Orient Express.  You can check out the pictures of the dishes we’ve eaten on my Foodspotting page (this is also our favorite place for salt and pepper pork chops, the glue that holds our marriage together).  We love this place because the food seems pretty authentic and it’s made-to-order.  The service is also excellent. We have never waited longer than 10 minutes for our food, and we order a lot!

Sadly, this restaurant is not at all close to the home that we just purchased.  Going there actually requires a special, preplanned, trip (most likely on a weekend) and sometimes you just can’t wait that long if you have a craving!  So I have been trying to recreate some of our favorite Chinese meals at home.  Although I can’t say that I have mastered the art of making salt and pepper pork chops, my -healthier version of- lo mien is pretty darn good!

Vegetable Lo Mien
2 large servings

1 package of firm tofu
1 tsp white sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 1/4 cups chicken broth
1 tbsp corn starch
1 tbsp sesame oil
4 tbsp vegetable oil, divided
1/2 package uncooked spaghetti
1 tablespoon minced garlic
½ lb snow peas
3 carrots, peeled and julienned
1 zucchini, julienned

  1. Heat 2 tbsp of vegetable oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Cut the block of tofu in half lengthwise. Fry both pieces of tofu for 3 minutes on each side, or until crispy.  Transfer fried tofu onto a plate lined with paper towels to cool. Once cool, cut tofu into half-inch cubes and set aside.
  2. In medium bowl, combine the chicken broth, sugar, soy sauce and corn starch. Mix well.
  3. Cook the spaghetti according to package instructions, drain and set aside.
  4. Heat remaining vegetable and sesame oil in a wok or large saucepan over high heat. Add garlic, snow peas, carrots and zucchini.  Stir-fry for a couple of minutes, or until vegetables have softened.
  5. Add soy sauce mixture to the vegetable stir fry and continue to cook on high heat until sauce bubbles and starts to thicken slightly.
  6. Add the reserved noodles and tofu.  Toss gently, coating everything well with the sauce.
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