It’s true that Jewish Christmas customs differ from household to household, but one constant is the consumption of a complete menu of Chinese takeout classics at a favorite Chinese restaurant (which is, of course, open) before heading to the theater to watch a Christmas blockbuster.
To round up the holiday season in style, I thought I’d share some of our favorite Chinese takeaway dishes with you in the spirit of wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season and, in particular, a very merry Jewish Christmas.
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1. CHINESE TAKEOUT CHICKEN WINGS
Put simply, nothing beats a Chinese takeout chicken wing. Who hasn’t longed for three fried chicken wings perched atop a mound of neon yellow fried rice in a styrofoam container?
The combination is like a flashback to your childhood, and when you make them at home, you get a whole batch to yourself. With the New Year quickly approaching, you can be completely rice-free if you so choose. HA!
You should watch Die Hard while munching on these traditional, crispy, and tasty Chinese takeout chicken wings. Your fingers, post-wing-eating, will shine like Bruce Willis’s pre-bald head in the movie’s final action scene.
2. ORANGE CHICKEN
When we mention Orange Chicken to our non-Chinese friends, they immediately become completely enamored. Our takeout version of this crowd-pleaser has loaded with flavor thanks to the addition of fresh orange juice and dried tangerine/mandarin peels. (Just use a little extra spice if you don’t have the latter.)
3. SWEET AND SOUR PORK
It’s not kosher, we get that. On the other hand, Sweet and Sour Pork is among the most ordered Chinese meals in the United States. It’s a worthy main meal on par with General Tso’s Chicken (or General Tso’s Tofu, or General Tso’s Cauliflower!).
If you’re going to commit to these sweet and sour pork nuggets, we suggest watching Home Alone first (your choice of 1 or 2, but definitely not 3). Just like tiny Kevin, this meal is both sweet and sour, leaving you feeling as conflicted as he does while facing Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern.
4. MONGOLIAN BEEF
This year, instead of eating at P.F. Chang’s, try your hand at making Mongolian Beef at home. Flavorful and nuanced, the sauce pairs well with the beef, which is crisp without being oily. Make sure to prepare extra white rice; you won’t regret it. Realizing how simple it is to create this crispy, delicious Mongolian beef at home might prove fatal.
5. KUNG PAO CHICKEN
Kung Pao Chicken is a delicious dish with abundant spices, crunchy peanuts, and a gentle kick from dried chiles when prepared properly. We’ve made a version of this classic Chinese dish that’s closer to the style served at restaurants in China than the New #1 Chinese Takeout in your town. Additionally, we provide Kung Pao Mushrooms for the vegetarians and vegans in the group!
6. TAKEOUT EGG ROLLS
Egg Rolls from the takeout are the best snack ever. Even though these don’t typically make an appearance at our family’s holiday events, there’s something about eating them that makes me feel festive. Despite this, there’s something about the crunch of a properly crisp egg roll that makes me feel merry. It’s the perfect treat for your Jewish Christmas celebration, in my opinion.
7. CHICKEN LO MEIN
Chicken Lo Mein is a go-to dish for those occasions when you want something simple but satisfying. One-pot meals like Chicken Lo Mein with veggies like cabbage and carrots are convenient and easy to make. When the White Christmas outside prevents you from leaving the house, just add your favorite spicy sauce (we like chili oil or chiu chow sauce) and watch a movie. Chicken Lo Mein, to put it briefly, will not disappoint.
8. CANTONESE WONTON NOODLE SOUP
Popular with those in the know, Cantonese Wonton Noodle Soup may be found at numerous hidden restaurants in Chinatown. With the warm soup and the starchy goodness of the wontons and noodles, you can forget the cold weather outside. These are the standard wontons, but you can easily adapt the recipe to make Shanghai Wonton Soup, Sichuan Spicy Wontons, or San Xian Wontons (Shrimp, Chicken, and Pork Wontons)!
9. CLASSIC BEEF FRIED RICE
Fried rice is an essential part of each takeout Jewish Christmas meal. When I was a kid, my mom would get an unquenchable appetite, so we’d order Chinese takeout and share a pint of beef fried rice and lo mein. (If you’re as fortunate as we are, you can probably get your fix at a place with a name like “Ho Ho Kitchen” at this time of year.) Traditional Jewish Christmas fare isn’t complete without this dish of Classic Beef Fried Rice.
WISHING YOU ALL A MERRY CHRISTMAS!