chinese takeout at home

Sweet Chili Shrimp

There are so many new books I want to write about before the holiday season is over, and then along comes another one — The Chinese Takeout Cookbook by Diana Kuan of Appetite for China. She threw a little lauch party the other night at 61 Local, and I stopped by to get a copy. For a change I actually paid for the book with my own money, so I get to say whatever I want about it, right? Well, Diana is my friend, so once again you can’t trust what I have to say. But trust me anyway — it’s a great cookbook for anyone who is tired of crappy takeout Chinese. Not only is it way cheaper to make this kind of food at home, but from personal experience I can now say it tastes way better to make it yourself too. And it’s easy too, so easy that I whipped up this Sweet Chili Shrimp for dinner on the same night of the party, after I got home at about 9:30 p.m. Of course I had to tweak the recipe a bit to make it gluten-free, and I had to make a few substitutions based on what I had in the house (so lucky I had some frozen shrimp). It still turned out great, and for me, that’s the real test of a cookbook. A good recipe is one that can handle some improvisation. This recipe is really good.

Sweet Chili Shrimp

For the sauce I used gluten-free soy sauce of course, and I wasn’t totally sure what kind of chili sauce Diana was calling for in the recipe, so I used some sambal oelek. You whip the sauce ingredients and put them aside. The shrimp is tossed with cornstarch, salt, and pepper — that was safe for me to eat.

Sweet Chili Shrimp

The recipe calls for fresh ginger, and this is where Diana will read this post and cringe. I didn’t have any fresh ginger. I didn’t have the shallots called for in the recipe either. I did have scallions, so I chopped up some of the whites for the stir-frying stage, which goes really fast.

Sweet Chili Shrimp

Once the shrimp is cooked, you pour in the sweet and spicy sauce. (I’m deliberately not telling you all of the ingredients because I want you to buy the book!) For serving, I topped the dish with chopped scallion greens. And because I was in a hurry to get dinner on the table, I served the whole thing over some rice noodles. It took me about 20 minutes total, including boiling the noodles, prep, everything. That’s fast. And yummy. Really yummy.

18 thoughts on “chinese takeout at home

  1. Okay. These book reviews are really killing me. I mean, REALLY. Just added this to my wishlist. I’ve been looking for a book like this and when I finally do purchase it, it will be my very FIRST Chinese cuisine cookbook! Seriously, my FIRST.

  2. Why am I looking at your blog? There’s too much delicious food on it and I’m not allowed to eat until tomorrow afternoon. Grrr… off to make Bovril taste like Chinese takeout. That should be easy :S I’d love to add some chilli sauce to it 😛

  3. Not really cringing because of the ginger. I sometimes leave it out of stir-fries when I don’t have any on hand either. I’m still amazed you made something so quickly after the party, but of course it *is* better than ordering takeout! Thank you again for coming out and celebrating with me in Brooklyn!

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