What’s the key to an awesome take-out dish? Sauce. Sauce pulls everything together and if there’s one cuisine that understands that the ultimate key to our hearts is a real stand-out sauce, it’s Asian cuisine. We love it so much that we have a takeout menu within arm’s reach of our bed. If you’re eating more plant-based meals, but you’re still used to ordering General Tso’s chicken, sweet and sour pork, and Mongolian beef from the take-out menu, don’t worry — you’ve still got a lot of options at your favorite joint — even if it’s not on the menu. If you have a craving for broccoli, mushrooms, and bok choy in garlic sauce, but it’s nowhere to be seen, there’s just ask! Most take-out restaurants are incredibly accommodating, so when you’re ordering out, go wild.
Of course, you could also make your own Asian take-out at home. Chinese, Japanese, and Thai foods are all so easy to make, but we’ve also got plenty of others. Indonesian? We’re totally craving these Tempeh Steak Patties. Filipino? Start with these Filipino Fried Spring Rolls and then have this Pancit noodle dish for dinner. And because we love ya, try these 15 saucy Asian vegan recipes that are even better than take-out.
1. Sweet and Sour Cauliflower
This Sweet and Sour Cauliflower is covered in a sauce made from vegetables and spices and then fermented in a mason jar for a few days. The result is a heaping quantity of soft, flavorful florets that are sweet and sour. The perfect way to serve these vegetables is on a bed of warm rice with steamed broccoli.
2. Chinese Steamed Tofu
This Chinese Steamed Tofu will be your go-to recipe when you’re in a hurry to prepare something for lunch or dinner. Silken tofu is steamed for five minutes and then served in a garlicky, umami sauce, then topped with scallions. When it comes to toppings, you can play with all kinds of options, like crushed peanuts, fresh herbs or celery leaves, and serve it with rice to make a complete meal.
3. Maple Soy Soba Stir-Fry
This Maple Soy Soba Stir-Fry makes the perfect one pan meal for a busy night! It’s made with soba noodles, which are made from buckwheat. So even if you’re gluten-free, you can still enjoy a big bowl of savory and sweet stir-fry noodles. It’s easy to make and it will keep in the refrigerator for a few days, so prepare yourself for some seriously delicious leftovers — if they make it past the first day.
4. Mongolian ‘Beef’
If you’re craving something meaty, check this dish out! This Mongolian “Beef” will make you swoon if you enjoy the kind of saucy dishes you get at Chinese restaurants. Soy curls are marinated in a sweet, sticky sauce made from soy sauce, sugar, ginger, roasted garlic, and red chili flakes, if you like things spicy. Serve these on a bed of brown rice to soak up all the saucy goodness, with broccoli on the side.
5. Cast-Iron Skillet Bibimbap
Bibimbap is traditional Korean dish which consists of cooked rice and varied toppings, traditionally served in a hot stone pot called a dolsot. This Cast-Iron Skillet Bibimbap is made with carrots, red cabbage, mung bean sprouts, cucumbers, pan-fried mushrooms, and spicy tofu. A cast-iron skillet is used in place of a dolsot, making the rice crispy.
6. Sweet Mock Eel Nigiri
Veganized eel? It can be done! This Sweet Mock Eel Nigiri calls for chickpea-based Burmese tofu in a caramelly, sweet sauce that is typically served over eel kabayaki. Pair it with some black rice for the perfect Japanese dish.
7. Thai Basil Tofu
This Thai Basil Tofu is super-easy to make, especially when you have that half-block of tofu lingering in your refrigerator, but even if you don’t, it’s an entrée worth buying ingredients for. Tofu is sautéed in oil and then mixed with a simple Thai basil sauce that’s spicy with cooling herbal notes. Serve it for dinner or bring it along to work or school as an easy lunch with noodles, quinoa, or rice.
8. Vegetable Udon Stir-Fry With Spicy Sauce
Not only is this Vegetable Udon Stir-Fry With Spicy Sauce done in under 30 minutes, it’s also a perfect weekday dinner. Broccoli and carrots give it some crunch while black-eyed peas and tofu add a boost of protein. Got people in your family who aren’t keen on heat? The spicy sauce is easily adjusted to taste!
9. Szechuan Eggplant in Garlic Sauce
Szechuan Eggplant in Garlic Sauce is a famous Chinese dish that’s traditionally prepared by deep-frying eggplant strips in a sticky, garlic-ginger sauce. This recipe does it a little differently by sautéeing the eggplant in the sauce with molasses added to give it that glossy, deep-fried look, so you can enjoy the same taste without all the oil. Serve this easy stir-fry over a bed of rice, so you don’t miss a single drop of garlic sauce.
10. General Tso’s Tempeh
General Tso’s sauce is that deliciously sticky, sweet, and slightly spicy sauce that you can get from Chinese takeout dishes. This General Tso’s Tempeh is a revamped version where you can control the sodium levels, but still enjoy that same sauce you love over crispy, fried tempeh. It’s easy to make and will certainly feed your jones for takeout.
11. Easy Peanut Noodles
While this may at first look like your typical noodle dish, it’s actually quite vegetable-forward. This recipe for Easy Peanut Noodles calls for just a quarter pound of pasta noodles but serves a healthy portion to two people. That’s because it features tons of red bell pepper, cucumber, carrot, radish, and scallion in a delicious peanut sauce. The reasonable portion of noodles doesn’t weigh you down, and the variety of vegetables helps make it a balanced meal.
12. Orange ‘Chicken’ With Brown Rice and Vegetables
This Orange “Chicken” With Brown Rice and Vegetables is sweet, spicy, sticky, and delicious. Served with a side of brown rice and variety of sautéed vegetables, it’s a meal that’ll keep you full and satisfied. It’s sure to be declared a household favorite, so you know you’ll be making it again and again.
13. Tempe Tumis Cabe Gendot: Indonesian Stir-Fry Habanero Tempeh
To make this Tempe Tumis Cabe Gendot, tempeh is deep-fried and then cooked in a hot and spicy sauce. Lemongrass, galangal, bay leaves, and kaffir lime leaves bring different flavors while habanero brings the heat. Adjust the amount of peppers according to how spicy you like it and serve with steamed rice so that the tempeh is the main focus.
14. Shirataki Pad Thai
Shirataki noodles are thin, gelatinous Japanese noodles that are made from yams. They’re flavorless on their own, but when cooked with the right spices and sauces, they come to life with flavor, like in this Shirataki Pad Thai. These grain-free noodles take the place of traditional rice noodles in this pad thai recipe offering a unique texture to this spicy Thai dish.
15. Grilled Tempeh With Filipino Barbecue Sauce
The sauce in this Grilled Tempeh With Filipino Barbecue Sauce is inspired by what you’d find brushed on grilled foods by street vendors in the Philippines. It’s sweet, smoky, and perfect for grilling tempeh. You could smother the sauce on anything that has that “meaty” texture — tofu, mushrooms, seitan, etc, and serve with your favorite starch and favorite salad for a well-balanced meal.
It’s nice to get take-out every once in a while, but nothing beats homemade.
Lead image source: General Tso’s Tempeh