When we set out to explore what foods people are missing the most, and how to go about replicating those experiences at home, we quickly discovered that it’s not just about the food. What we’re missing most is the experience of dining – and drinking – out. So before we dive into some of the great ideas we’ve put together for recreating some of your favorites in your own kitchen, we wanted to say a few words in support of ordering takeout instead.
There will come a time when we go to restaurants again, we are certain of it. When that time comes, you will want to hit up your favorite dive bars, food trucks, and craft kitchens. But whether or not those places will survive this crisis is unknown. Independent food services are among the businesses hardest hit by the shelter-in-place orders. The truth is that your favorite Chinese restaurant may already be closed, and that cool farm-to-table place that opened around the corner just last year is really struggling. Their servers have been repurposed as delivery drivers or furloughed, as have their bartenders and hosts. Kitchen staff in most places had to be cut back to a skeleton crew.
Takeout business is all these places have to keep them afloat, and with so many of us watching our wallets (which is a responsible thing to do right now – don’t get us wrong), there are fewer people picking up takeout than you might think. So if you want to be able to visit Maisie’s Tea Room in 2021, and if you can swing the bill, give yourself a break from the kitchen and order takeout from them tonight.
You can also support all of those furloughed and unemployed hospitality workers through a number of online services – check out this great Food & Wine article for more details on how to contribute if you are able.
That said, we know it’s not realistic for everyone to order out right now. So here are a few of our favorite ideas to bring those flavors home
Haven’t made the Chicken Fried Rice from Part 1 of this series yet? Well, get on that!
Use your build up of take out soy sauce packets to make a banging dip.Toss in crushed garlic, the red pepper flakes that you usually reserve for pizza, and a wee bit of sugar or honey.
Turn that dip into a basting sauce for veggies, chicken, or salmon with the addition of any oil. If you have sesame, that’s the best, but any veg oil will do the drink and your taste buds will thank you!
When you need something comforting but also new, congee is the answer. Rice is so bad ass; it’s one of the most economical food sources in the world. 1 cup of rice + 7 cups of water (or stock/broth) = several meals – THAT’S INSANE.
Orange chicken – cube and cook up some chicken breasts or thighs. Towards the end toss in some orange juice and spoon of orange marmalade to replicate that sweet sticky goodness that is “chinese” take out.
Have you always been curious how these take out joints get the meat so velvety and tender? It’s called “velveting” (no joke) – a marinating technique that includes cornstarch, rice wine, and egg white.
If you have butter and red pepper hot sauce – Cholula, Tabasco, and Franks Red Hot are all great – then you can make buffalo sauce. This recipe makes about 2 cups of buff goodness but you can modify depending on the amount of ingredients you have on hand or what you need. If you happen to use the rest of your hot sauce for this recipe reuse the bottle to hold your new liquid gold rather than creating waste!
Now for the wing-dings (not the font, the finger-licking food). Not everyone has a fryer or quartz of frying oil, so we suggest coating the meat with starch before a dip in the sauce and a nice bake. This recipe teaches a great technique – sub cornstarch for the flour and your wings are gluten-free!
Cauliflower or seitan nuggets are great substitutes for chicken for an all-veggie swap.
Dim the lights, pair with your favorite GoPuff delivered beer, throw some questionable sticky stuff on your floor and you’ve got yourself a DIY bar environment. At least at home you can listen to your music of choice.
Cocktails & Alcoholic Beverages
Collection of nonsense in your bar at home? Bartender’s Choice and Cocktail Flow are two great apps that let you punch in the ingredients you have available to generate a list of cocktails you can make. Also learn tips and tricks on how to build basic and advanced drinks! A little practice now will impress your friends at your first post-quarantine party.
Check your favorite bars and breweries for takeout deals when you need to restock. Barcelona Wine Bar, for example, is selling wine and beer for half price!