Easy, healthy Chinese food
Chinese food doesn’t have to be the greasy and sauce-laden dishes you’re used to ordering for takeout.
“Chinese food has so many different levels, and it can be very healthy,” says Ching-He Huang, the host of “Easy Chinese” on Cooking Channel. “Home cooking is always simple, healthy and fresh.”
Huang gave us some tips for lightening up traditional Eastern fare.
Don’t fry and douse your meat in sauce — marinate it instead: Huang’s five-spice marinade will give your dishes a flavorful punch. “It consists of star anise, citron pepper, fennel, cloves and cinnamon. Get some chicken and marinate it with five-spice, honey, light soy, and grate some garlic and ginger [before putting it] on the grill or on in the oven. You can garnish it with toasted sesame seeds.”
Make a soup: “I love to make really healthy, light soups that you can add to,” the chef says. “For dinner, you can have a vegetable-based stock with some water, add in some grated ginger and a handful of different kinds of mushrooms because they’re full of antioxidants and really healthy. Then chuck in greens, Chinese broccoli, spinach, or whatever you fancy, and some lean fish. Season it with a little bit of light soy, sesame oil, salt, ground white pepper and a little bit of rice wine. For me, that shows the epitome of a really good Chinese-based, easy, comforting dish that you can have at home. You can keep adding layers to it: You can add noodles, you can add 10 different kinds of vegetables if you want. You can keep it vegetarian, or you can wok-fry a little lean chicken that’s been pre-marinated with some five-spice and light soy.”
Try a salad: Though you might think of rice and noodles when you think of Chinese food, salads are “getting much more popular,” Huang says. She loves dressing hers with a grapefruit or lemon vinaigrette.
Her healthy at-home meal
A twist on egg rolls. “In the summertime, we get spring roll skin made of coconut oil and wheat flour. Put in some sliced-up egg omelet, bean sprouts, scallions, cilantro, tofu, then sprinkle peanuts with a bit of brown sugar, and roll it up and eat it. It’s the most refreshing thing.”
An assortment of different vegetables.
A tofu dish. “Chilled tofu salad is the most delicious thing,” she says. “You get silken tofu, chop it up into cubes but still keep it as one block, put it in the fridge and chill it down. Then you make a dressing of light soy, vinegar, sesame oil and sesame seeds and dress it.”
A noodle dish. “A bit of stir-fried rice noodles is not overly bad.”
Protein. Huang likes chicken stir-fried with veggies.
How to order healthily at a Chinese restaurant
1. Don’t order all fried foods. “That’s not Chinese food,” Huang says. “When Chinese people go out to eat, they’ll have a steamed dish, some vegetables and a few meat dishes so everything is balanced.”
2. Ask for Yi mien. “Most of the restaurants here are Cantonese, so they’ll have a dish called Yi mien. It’s basically brazed noodles — noodles cooked in a soup stock. It’s really light and it’s healthy.” Huang recommends the crab variety.