Friday, October 12, 2018

Novel Food #34: Better-than-take-out Chinese food

During the last few months, I have managed to squeeze in a few novels.  Most of my reading (for work) is non-fiction, so fiction is a treat.  My most current read was Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng.  It’s a story about motherhood, relationships, and secrets, and it demonstrates that seemingly simple decisions can have long-reaching impacts and consequences.

One of the meals towards the end of the novel featured Chinese take-out.  I decided to prepare two dishes, non-take-out/better-than-take-out style:  Orange Chicken and Chicken & Spring Vegetable Lo Mein.  For the lo mein, I used soba noodles, which I like and could find in the local grocery store.

I enjoyed both dishes, and would definitely plan to make them again.  

Please stop by Simona's blog to see the other entries for this edition of Novel Food!

Orange Chicken

(courtesy of Ashley Fehr)

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings:  4


  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 1" cubes
  • 3 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup orange marmalade
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened orange juice
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch


  1. Place chicken pieces in a large bowl and add 3 tablespoons corn starch, salt and pepper. Stir to coat.
  2. Heat a large pan over high heat and add oil.
  3. Add chicken to the pan and cook over high heat, turning once, just until browned, about 2 minutes per side.
  4. Meanwhile, make the sauce. Whisk together the marmalade, juice, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger, pepper flakes, chicken broth and 2 tablespoons corn starch.
  5. Once chicken is browned, reduce heat to medium and add the sauce. Cook and stir until sauce has thickened and chicken is cooked through (165 degrees F minimum), about 10 minutes.
  6. Serve over rice as desired.

How to make Crockpot Orange Chicken:

Coat and brown the chicken in a frying pan according to the original instructions.
Add the chicken and the sauce mixture to the crockpot, and cook on high for 2 hours or low for 3-4 hours until the sauce has thickened and the chicken is cooked through.

Chicken & Spring Vegetable Lo Mein

(courtesy of Rachael Ray)
  • 20 min Cook Time
  • 15 min Prep Time
  • 4 Servings


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 8 ounce package dried lo mein noodles
  • 1 small head cabbage, thinly sliced (3 cups)
  • 1 small red bell pepper, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 1/4 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps thinly sliced
  • 1/3 pound snowpeas, trimmed and halved crosswise
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons dry sherry
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 cups cooked chicken, sliced into bite-size pieces
  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped peanuts, for sprinkling



Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, in a large, heavy skillet, heat the oil over medium-high until shimmering. Add the onion, garlic and ginger. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat.

Add the noodles to the boiling water and cook according to package directions. Add the cabbage, bell pepper, mushrooms, snow peas and carrot; cook for 30 seconds. Drain the noodles and vegetables thoroughly.

Turn the heat under the skillet back to high. When the onions sizzle, add the soy sauce, sherry and sesame oil and let the mixture bubble for a few seconds. Add the noodles and vegetables; toss well. Cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms are fully cooked and the peppers are tender but still slightly crunchy, about 3 minutes.

Lower the heat to medium, add the chicken and cook, stirring often, to heat through. Season with salt and sprinkle with the peanuts.


Debra Eliotseats said...

Chinese take-out sounds so good. And, then you go and get it and eat it and wonder, "Why did I do that...should have made it at home." :( I have been wondering about this novel.

Simona Carini said...

Both dishes look great (I love soba noodles too!) and the novel sounds intriguing. Thank you so much for contributing to Novel Food :)

Phil in the Kitchen said...

Lovely dishes and the ideal non-take-out food. I'd love them both, I'm sure, but right now I'm really craving that orange chicken.

Delaware Girl Eats said...

Thanks for sharing these two recipes! I love Chinese food but invariably find that the take-out versions taste better than my own attempts at home-made. Will give these a try though because they look like just the kind my husband and I would like. And, I too am a mostly non-fiction reader, which I why I love Simona's group, where I find books I wouldn't have thought of to read/enjoy.

Elizabeth said...

I was trying to remember what this group is called! I so wanted to join this time round. Your Orange Chicken looks and sounds so delicious, Judy!

"Little Fires Everywhere" is on my "to read" list. I'm now number 756 on 150 copies at our library.

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