You might be trying to redeem yourself from that botched dinner party you threw (hey, chocolate chip cookie casserole was a cool idea in theory). Or perhaps you want to cook up something just a tad more exotic than macaroni and cheese. Maybe you're a Chinese food addict, but your refrigerator can't hold any more of those cute little boxes. It is for you, dear children, that we have written this SYW.

Most people think that eating a good Chinese meal can only occur by going to a restaurant, ordering from a restaurant, or moving to China. Those are nice options, but they can get rather pricey. So because we're so cheap, we'll show you how to prepare a Chinese meal that's simple to prepare, yet amazing to eat.

But before you start chopping watercress, take note: the recipes found in this SYW accommodate 4-6 servings, so if your intention is to whip up a romantic meal for your significant other (or to prepare an awesome feast for your closest 11 friends), you're on your own with the math.


We hate to break it to you, but to cook a meal, you need to buy stuff. Or steal stuff. There are three categories of necessary purchases:

Cooking instruments
Dining tools

Cooking instruments

  • Wok. Although it's not necessary, it's easiest to prepare Chinese food with a wok. A wok looks like a large pan with curved up sides. The beauty of the wok is that the sides are tall enough to hold in all the juices of your culinary creation (like a pot), yet curve out enough so that you can easily access the contents with a spatula (like a pan). Just about every Chinese dish can be made in a wok, but you can always substitute it with pots and pans if you're too cheap to shell out the money to buy one. Just don't tell anyone.

  • Rice Cooker. If this is going to be the only Chinese meal you ever cook, then don't worry about buying a rice cooker. Just consider that 1) you might want to still cook rice occassionally, even if you're not preparing a Chinese meal, and 2) since a rice cooker is basically a steaming machine, you can use it to steam any foods.

  • Other instruments that you probably already have:

    • A spatula
    • A ladle
    • A long wooden spoon for stirring
    • Various sized knives for slicing, dicing, and chopping
    • Various sized bowls and plates


Each of the recipes listed in this SYW will be preceded by a list of ingredients, most of which can be found in your local supermarket or grocery stand. Some items, however, are unique to Chinese cuisine and you'll need to visit an Asian food market (try looking one up in your phone book). If there are none located in your neighborhood, check out to find ingredients like soy sauce, sesame oil, tofu, and Oriental rice.

Dining tools

Sure, you could fake the Chinese food experience with plates and Popsicle sticks, but we suggest checking out for some authentic rice bowls, soup bowls and chopsticks. It'll be fun for you and your guests to try dining as the Chinese do. Or at least look silly trying.

And because we're so eager to please, here's a quick lesson on using chopsticks:

  1. Hold one chopstick as you would a pencil (balanced between the crook of your thumb and the tip of your middle finger). You should be able to lift your index finger without disturbing the chopstick.

  2. Line the second chopstick above the first, and have it rest against the tip of your thumb and the pad of your index finger.

  3. The chopsticks should be parallel, with the second held in a stable position above the fist.

  4. Keep the first chopstick stationery and, using your index finger, practice moving the tip of the second chopstick toward the first.

  5. Grasp small food pieces without applying too much pressure on the chopsticks.

We guarantee that you will drop at least a few morsels of chow in the beginning, but as with learning anything new, using chopsticks will get easier with practice.



Serving a Chinese dinner without rice would be like serving an Italian dinner without pasta. A crime! You can easily pick up a box of white rice and follow the directions to cook it, or you can go the more authentic route and make Chinese rice in a rice cooker. We're not going to get into how to cook rice in a rice cooker; each machine is different and will provide clear instructions. Our advice: follow them. We'll get into how you should serve the rice later. For now, just keep all the cooked rice in a large casserole dish.


You have two choices here: the simple and tasty egg drop soup, or the complicated (and equally tasty) hot and sour soup. Don't go overboard and serve both because you'll make your guests bloated.

Egg Drop Soup
Hot and Sour Soup

Egg Drop Soup

Preparation Time: 10 minutes


  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp. water
  • scallion - finely chopped


  1. Bring the chicken broth to a rapid boil.

  2. Beat the egg in a bowl.

  3. Put the cornstarch in another bowl and gradually stir in 2 tbsp. cold water.

  4. Stir the soup and very slowly add the cornstarch to it, then the eggs, and finally the scallions. The eggs should form ribbons in the soup.

Hot and sour soup

Preparation time: 30 minutes


  • 3 tbsp. peanut or canola oil
  • 1 boneless, skinless, chicken breast - sliced into short, thin ribbons
  • 6 cups unsalted chicken broth
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • cup water
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 egg - beaten
  • 12 mushrooms - sliced lengthwise
  • lb. pork tenderloin - cut into short, thin ribbons
  • 1 tsp. dark sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • lb. firm tofu
  • 4 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • salt to taste


  1. Wrap the entire chunk of tofu in paper towels, place it between two plates, and put something heavy on top (like a couple of big cans). The moisture will seep out of the tofu. Give it 20 minutes.

  2. Heat the oil in a deep saucepan over medium-high heat.

  3. Boil the broth, chicken, pork, mushrooms, and soy sauce to a boil in a large pot. Lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

  4. Mix the cornstarch with cup water until it is completely dissolved.

  5. Cut the tofu into -inch cubes and add it to the broth.

  6. Bring the broth back to a boil and slowly stir in enough of the cornstarch mixture to thicken the broth to your preference. Don't dump the entire cornstarch mixture in at once or your soup will immediately clump up.

  7. Add Worcestershire sauce, pepper, sesame oil, and salt.

  8. While stirring the pot, slowly pour the egg in, so that it forms ribbons in the soup.


Choose one of the following kick-ass meal starters:

Shrimp Fu Yung
Oriental Deep-Fried Chicken Wings

Shrimp Fu Yung

Preparation Time: 10 minutes


  • 3 tsp. cooking oil (actually, 2 tsp. and 1 tsp.)
  • 1 clove of garlic - chopped
  • 4 oz. shrimp - peeled
  • 4 oz. green beans - sliced
  • 1 carrot - shredded
  • 6 eggs
  • black pepper and salt to taste

For the dipping sauce:

  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch


  1. Heat 2 tsp. oil in a wok.

  2. Add the garlic and stir-fry (that is, fry as you stir) for 1 minute.

  3. Add the shrimp and stir-fry for 1 minute.

  4. Add the beans and carrots and stir-fry for 2 minutes.

  5. Remove everything from the pan and keep them in a dish on the side.

  6. Beat the eggs in a large bowl with salt and pepper. Add the cooled shrimp and vegetables to the egg mixture and beat some more.

  7. Heat 1 tsp. oil in the wok. Pour 4 tbsp. of the egg mixture in and cook it like a pancake.

  8. When the egg is firmed on one side, flip it over and cook on the other side until lightly golden.

  9. Place on a plate and keep it warm with an aluminum foil cover.

  10. Repeat with the rest of the egg mixture until it's all used up.

  11. To make the sauce, mix all the ingredients together in a saucepot over low heat. Stir constantly, until the sauce thickens. Serve the shrimp fu yung with a bowl of this dipping sauce.

Oriental Deep-Fried Chicken Wings

Preparation Time: 1 hour


  • 3-4 lbs. chicken wings
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • tsp. pepper
  • 1 oz. corn syrup
  • 2 tbsp. malt vinegar
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • oil for deep frying


  1. Defrost the wings if they're frozen.

  2. Dissolve the corn syrup and vinegars in a pan over low heat.

  3. Lay the wings on a large flat plate and pour the vinegar mixture over them.

  4. Leave the chicken alone for 45 minutes so that the mixture will sink in.

  5. Heat the oil in a wok for deep-frying (about an inch of oil). Deep-fry each wing for about 5 minutes, or until it is deep brown in color and the skin puffs out slightly.

  6. Remove from the wings from the oil and drain them on paper towels.


In selecting an entree for your main course, we cover all the bases: one for poultry lovers, one for beef lovers, and one for wussies... we mean veggie lovers.

Sweet and Sour Chicken
Beef with Broccoli
Stir-Fried Vegetables

Sweet and Sour Chicken

This is a dish that originated in Canton and actually falls under modern Chinese cooking, as opposed to age-old dishes like Beef with Broccoli. (We thought it'd be cool to provide you with dorky little facts to throw into the dinner conversation.)

Preparation Time: 30 minutes


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tbsp. oil
  • water
  • 8 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast - cut into -inch cubes
  • 1 onion - sliced
  • 1 green pepper - seeded, cored, and sliced
  • 1 small can of pineapple chunks (save the juice in the can for the sauce)
  • pinch of salt
  • oil for frying

For the sweet and sour sauce:

  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch
  • cup light brown sugar
  • cup cider vinegar or rice vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove - crushed
  • 6 tbsp. ketchup
  • 6 tbsp. pineapple juice
  • pinch of salt


  1. Sift the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt into a bowl.

  2. Make a hole in the center of the mixture and add the oil and a small amount of water.

  3. Using a spoon, gradually incorporate flour from the side into the middle, adding water if necessary, and beat until a thick smooth batter emerges.

  4. Heat an inch of oil or so in the wok to deep-fry the chicken.

  5. Dip the chicken cubes one at a time into the batter and drop them into the hot oil. Fry 4-5 pieces of chicken at once for about 5 minutes at a time. Remove and dry the chicken on paper towels.

  6. Pour out most of the oil from the wok, leaving only a thin layer.

  7. Throw in the sliced onion, pepper, and pineapple and cook on high heat for 1-2 minutes. Remove the vegetables and pineapples from the wok and set aside.

  8. Mix all the sauce ingredients together and pour it into the wok. Bring the mixture to a boil over low heat, and stir continuously until it thickens. Let it simmer for about 1-2 minutes or until it looks completely clear.

  9. Add the vegetables and chicken cubes to the sauce and mix until they are coated completely.

  10. Reheat for 1-2 minutes and serve immediately.

Beef with Broccoli

Preparation Time: 30 minutes


  • 8 oz. fillet or rump steak
  • 1 garlic clove - crushed
  • 2 tbsp. peanut oil
  • 4 oz. broccoli florets
  • 2 scallions - finely chopped
  • tsp. salt
  • dash of pepper
  • 1 tbsp. dark soy sauce
  • cup hot water
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch mixed with 1 tbsp. cold water


  1. Cut the steak into thin slices, then into narrow strips.

  2. Mix the steak strips in a large bowl with the garlic and pepper.

  3. Heat 1 tbsp. of the oil in a wok and stir-fry the broccoli for 4 minutes. Then remove the broccoli and set them aside in a bowl.

  4. Add another 1 tbsp. of oil to the wok and stir-fry the meat for 3 minutes.

  5. Add the broccoli, soy sauce, salt, and water, and heat until the mixture simmers.

  6. Pour the cornstarch mixed with water into the wok, stirring constantly, until the liquid thickens.

  7. Throw the scallions in, stir some more, and serve immediately.

Stir-Fried Vegetables

Preparation Time: 45 minutes


  • 2 tbsp. oil
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • red pepper - seeded and finely chopped
  • green pepper - seeded and finely chopped
  • green onion - chopped
  • 1 head Chinese cabbage - finely chopped
  • 3 oz. mushrooms - sliced lengthwise
  • 1 zucchini - thinly sliced
  • cup frozen peas
  • 2 tbsp. cashew nuts - roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • salt and pepper


  1. Heat the oil in a wok and stir-fry the vegetables in this order: bean sprouts, peppers, onion, Chinese cabbage, mushrooms, zucchini, peas and cashew nuts.

  2. Stir in the sugar, soy sauce, and stock.

  3. Season with salt and pepper and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring frequently.

  4. Drain of the sauce, and serve the rest of it with the vegetables.


Believe it or not, we are going to teach you how to make fortune cookies with your very own fortunes! But before we get to the fortune cookies, you should follow the Chinese tradition of serving a fruit after every meal. This "dessert fruit" usually consists of orange slices (orange is considered a "lucky" fruit to the Chinese) and/or apple slices (which symbolize "peace"). Chill the fruits and arrange them nicely on a plate before serving them. Even frat boys can handle that one. Now on to the cookies!

Preparation Time: 30 minutes


  • 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
  • tsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 6 tbsp. white sugar
  • 7 tbsp. salad oil
  • 1/3 cup egg whites
  • 3 tbsp. water
  • 2" x " fortune strips


  1. Write out the fortunes on little pieces of paper with waterproof ink. Here are some of our suggestions:

    • You have just eaten a very fine meal. Do not fail to show your appreciation by offering to do the dishes.

    • Confucius say, "Fortune cookie fortunes are a bunch of crock."

    • AAAHHH! You're eating my home!

    • Will you marry me?
  2. Preheat the oven to 300 Fahrenheit.

  3. In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt, cornstarch and sugar.

  4. Add the salad oil and egg whites, and stir until smooth.

  5. Add water and blend well.

  6. On a greased cookie sheet, pour 1 tablespoon of batter for each cookie, spreading the batter evenly by using the back of a spoon. Each circle should be about 3 inches. Place no more than 6 cookies on each sheet.

  7. Bake for about 20 minutes or until edges are slightly brown.

  8. Working quickly, place a fortune in the center of each cookie. Fold each cookie in half and with the rounded edge facing outward, grasp the ends of cookie and pull them towards each other.

  9. Place each cookie in a muffin tin, open edge up. Cool until cookie is set. Repeat with remaining batter.


Sure, you can just throw everything on the table and let your guests attack it like a pack of rabid dogs, but if the thought of your painstakingly prepared dishes being devoured without a hint of appreciation bums you out, here are some tips on simulating a fine Chinese dining experience:

  • Set each table place with a rice bowl (or a plate, if that'd be more convenient for your guests), a soup bowl, a pair of chopsticks (or a fork), a soup spoon, and a napkin.

  • It's a Chinese tradition for the host to ladle soup into his/her guests' bowls, then set the large soup bowl down on the table for the guests to help themselves to seconds or thirds.

  • After the soup and appetizers, bring out the rice and the main course dishes. Set them all at the center of the table and encourage your guests to help themselves.

  • Bring out your artfully-arranged fruit platter (or your wittily-stuffed fortune cookies) and let everyone partake. Remember that for the fortunes to come true, you have to offer one to each guest and then take the last one.
And there you have it: a complete Chinese meal. And hey, after dinner, take that two bucks that you would've spent tipping the deliveryman and treat yourself to something special - like some real dessert, for instance. We recommend Yodels.