Leftover Chinese food can be just as delicious as it was the first time around if you reheat it properly. Reheating not only brings your food back up to optimal temperature, but also allows you to add extra touches that can enhance the flavors. With the right techniques, you can make those takeout containers taste fresh and mouthwatering again.
Preventing Food Poisoning When Reheating Chinese Food
The first priority when reheating any leftovers is avoiding food poisoning. When storing and reheating Chinese food, be sure to follow food safety guidelines:
- Refrigerate leftovers within two hours of getting your takeout order.
- Store leftovers in clean, airtight containers in the fridge.
- Keep refrigerator temperature at 40°F or below.
- Reheat and consume leftovers within 3-4 days for optimal freshness and safety.
As long as you refrigerate them promptly and properly, leftovers containing complex sauces, like kung pao chicken or General Tso’s chicken, can be safely reheated and eaten within three days.
Convenience of Reheating Chinese Food Leftovers
One of the best things about Chinese takeout is that it provides you with a readymade meal for another day. Whether you simply reheat and eat it or add your own spin, Chinese food leftovers offer a convenient and quick option when you don’t feel like cooking.
The flavors and textures hold up well for a couple days in the fridge. All you need is a simple reheating method to make it taste freshly prepared again.
Different Methods for Reheating Chinese Food
You have several options when it comes to reheating Chinese food. Consider the specific dish you’re working with and whether you want to enhance flavors or textures during the reheating process. Here are some of the most common and effective reheating methods:
- Stovetop – Adds sizzle and enhances flavor
- Microwave – Quick and convenient
- Oven – Preserves texture and crispness
- Rice cooker – Versatile; good for soups and congee
How to Reheat Chinese Food on the Stove
For many Chinese dishes, the stovetop offers an easy and flavor-enhancing reheating option. The sizzle of the pan brings out the flavors and allows you to add extra seasonings.
Steps for Reheating on the Stovetop
- Place a frying pan or wok over medium-high heat and add a drizzle of oil.
- Allow the oil to shimmer and get hot before adding your Chinese leftovers to the pan.
- Stir the food frequently to evenly distribute the heat.
- Add a splash of soy sauce, sesame oil, oyster sauce or other flavorings to enhance taste.
- Cook for 5-8 minutes until heated through.
Recommended Time and Extra Ingredients by Dish
The stovetop reheating time can vary based on the type of food you’re working with. Here are some guidelines:
- Fried rice or stir-fried veggies: Toss in the pan for 5-8 minutes until hot. Sprinkle in a bit of soy sauce.
- Lo mein or chow mein noodles: For the best texture, briefly toss the noodles in the pan; don’t overcook them.
- Sautéed meats or shrimp: Cook for 2-3 minutes just until warmed through. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper.
How to Reheat Chinese Food in the Microwave
The microwave offers a quick and convenient way to reheat many Chinese food leftovers. However, microwaving is not ideal for certain dishes and requires some special tips to avoid overcooking.
Best Chinese Foods for Microwave Reheating
Microwave reheating works best for:
- Steamed veggies
- Congee or jook
- Steamed fish
Avoid microwaving anything breaded or fried, like orange chicken, as the texture will become soggy.
Microwave Reheating Tips for Chinese Food
Follow these guidelines for the best results:
- Cover the food with a damp paper towel to create steam and prevent drying out.
- Reheat food in short increments (1-2 minutes) and check periodically to prevent overcooking.
- Add a cup of water to the microwave when reheating fried rice to revive it.
- Stir or flip food midway through microwaving to distribute heat evenly.
How to Reheat Chinese Food in the Oven
The oven allows you to reheat Chinese food gently and evenly, keeping textures intact. It’s ideal for reviving crispy fried dishes or entrees with mixed components like meats and veggies.
Benefits of Oven Reheating
Reheating Chinese food in the oven has several advantages:
- Distributes heat evenly throughout the dish.
- Preserves the original crispness and crunch.
- Requires minimal attention or stirring from you.
How to Reheat Fried Chinese Food in the Oven
Here’s a simple process for oven-reheating fried dishes like orange chicken, sweet and sour shrimp, egg rolls and more:
- Preheat oven to 325°F (normal) or 425°F (for quick reheating).
- Place Chinese food leftovers on a baking sheet or oven-safe plate.
- Cover tightly with aluminum foil to seal in moisture and heat.
- Cook for 5-10 minutes until heated through.
- Remove foil during last 2-3 minutes if you want to crispen up the exterior.
How to Reheat Chinese Food in a Rice Cooker
For Chinese food lovers, the rice cooker is a versatile tool that can reheat leftovers in addition to cooking. Many dishes maintain excellent texture and flavor thanks to the even, indirect heat.
Benefits of Using a Rice Cooker for Reheating
Consider using your handy rice cooker to reheat these items:
- Congee or jook – Use the porridge setting
- Soup – Keeps it gently simmering
- Steamed buns – Stays soft and fluffy
- Steamed fish or tofu – Keeps it tender
The “Keep Warm” function also safely holds food at temperature until ready to eat.
Tips for Reheating with a Rice Cooker
Follow these tips when using a rice cooker to reheat Chinese food:
- Add a bit of water to dishes to prevent drying out.
- Season plain congee with salt, pepper, soy sauce, chopped scallions.
- Place food in a heat-safe bowl before putting into rice cooker.
- Be creative! You can steam veggies, dumplings and more.
With proper storage and reheating, Chinese food leftovers can taste every bit as delicious as they did fresh from the takeout box. You don’t need fancy equipment – just basic kitchen tools like a stove, microwave or oven.
Pay attention to food safety guidelines, experiment with different reheating techniques and add extra seasoning to revive your leftovers. With the variety of dishes and flavors, you could eat Chinese takeout every day and never grow tired of the possibilities!
Hi, I’m Ben Holland. I love cooking, traveling, and spending time with my family! Here you’ll find simple and delicious recipes, travel tips, and stories about my adventures with my wife and kids.