Dear Blue Apron,
I don’t mind cooking at all, but I still eat take-out a lot simply because I love the ethnic food and don’t know how to cook it myself! Any advice on how to replicate my favorite take-out dishes so I can start saving some money on my favorite dinners (and eating healthier renditions)?
It’s true that while you may crave greasy take-out from the local Indian, Chinese, Japanese, or Thai joint, knowing how weighed down you'll feel after eating a tub of chicken and broccoli (and how much lighter your wallet will be) might just stop you in your tracks.
Still, you don't have to forgo your favorite ethnic eats completely—recreating them at home really doesn’t need to be that difficult. You may have to trek to the local specialty store for a couple of ingredients (or sign up for Blue Apron—we'll send them to you!), but once you own them, making stir-fries, sushi, and Indian stews will be a cinch. Put down the phone: Here's how to make take-out at home.
1. Chicken Tikka Masala
It's incredible how easily this Anglo-Indian favorite comes together once you have your ingredients prepped and assembled. Simply sauté some white meat chicken, then create a sauce around it out of ginger, garlic, tomatoes, cream, and a mix of fragrant spices. Serve with white rice and cucumber salad. Since you're more likely to trace the origin of the dish to England than India, feel free to tweak the recipe until it suits your taste—“authentic" or not.
2. Avocado Cucumber Maki
It may seem impossible that you could ever craft rolls that rival those of your favorite local sushi chef, but especially when you stick to vegetarian fillings, you really can roll up some pretty good maki. We love how the creamy avocado pairs with the crunchy cucumber in this recipe and think it's kind of a hoot to hang around, pressing rice into nori, rolling up little sushi cigars, and cutting them into pieces that are as neat as you can muster. If you want to share your take-out with a special someone, maki rolling also makes for a great date-night activity.
3. Pork Larb
Many people skip past the larb on Thai menus, heading straight for the Pad Thai or curry section of the menu. But larb—a salad made of diced or ground meat that's technically Laotian—really should be on your radar. Ground pork, which is an affordable meat to buy, gets mixed with both sweet and savory flavors, packed into lettuce wraps, and served beside fresh rice. Yum!
4. Pad See Ew
The wide rice noodles in Pad See Ew will satisfy any take-out craving, whether spurred by boredom, laziness, or a hangover. We love how thin strips of chewy beef pair with the silken noodles and the healthy and delicious Chinese broccoli. For this dish, you'll need to get your hands on the noodles and the sauces, but once your pantry's stocked with these requisite ingredients, you'll be eating Pad See Ew in a quarter of the time a delivery would have taken.
5. Kung Pao Tofu with Brown Rice
This dish from the Szechuan province of China features peanuts and spicy, tingly Szechuan peppercorns. Black vinegar, an aged rice vinegar, adds richness and complexity, and a big mess of Chinese broccoli rounds out the spicy, savory, satisfying vegetarian meal.