Thanks to the generous portions, your Chinese takeout often means you get more than one meal. But reheating Chinese food using the wrong method may leave you with rubbery meat and dry rice. Depending on the dish, you may get good results if you reheat Chinese in the oven.
Reheat Chinese in the Oven
According to a December 2013 review published in Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, Americans love Chinese food because it consistently tastes good and the large portions make it a great value. If you're not sharing your beef and broccoli with your significant other, then it may mean you don't have to worry about what to eat for dinner tomorrow.
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When it comes to reheating leftovers, the microwave is fast and convenient, but it isn't always a reliable tool to reheat Chinese food, or any other leftover for that matter, due to uneven heating that can overcook or undercook your meal. The oven may serve as more reliable heating element to reheat Chinese food because it heats food more evenly.
To reheat Chinese in oven, you first need to preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. The cooking experts at the website Kitchn recommend reheating leftovers in the oven at a low temperature to prevent overcooking.
You also want to keep a close eye on your leftovers and cook until they're heated all the way through, but not overcooked. The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service recommends that when reheating leftovers, you should make sure they reach an internal temperature of 165 F.
Read more: The Sodium Content of Chinese Food
Reheat Chinese Food Favorites
General Tso's chicken, crab rangoon and sweet and sour chicken are among the most popular Chinese food meals in the United States. To keep these favorites as tasty the second time as they were the first, you may need to make a few adjustments when reheating.
Crispy and spicy, General Tso's is a popular Chinese food takeout item. While the oven may be a more even heating element, for faster reheating you may consider preparing your General Tso's in the microwave.
For even cooking of your General Tso's, spread your leftovers evenly across a microwave dish and cover with a moist paper towel. Be sure to stir frequently — every 30 to 60 seconds — while cooking your General Tso's in the microwave to ensure even cooking. Reheat until it's reached the desired internal temperature, ideally 165 F.
The best way to reheat crab rangoon and other fried foods, such as egg rolls, is in the oven wrapped in foil to help keep it crispy. If you're reheating sweet and sour chicken, either the microwave or oven will work. When reheating in the oven, cover your dish with wax paper or foil to help keep in the moisture.
The microwave may also be better for reheating your fried or steamed rice. To keep your rice moist, add a bit of water before cooking.
Keeping Your Leftovers Safe
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year nearly 48 million people get sick from eating food that's improperly handled or cooked. Your leftover Chinese food can make you sick if you're not careful.
In addition to reheating Chinese food to 165 F, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends that you take a few other precautions before you reheat and eat, such as:
- Refrigerating your leftovers within two hours
- Storing leftovers in a clean, airtight container
- Ensuring your refrigerator temperature is 40 F or lower
To make sure all your food is safe, including your leftovers, use a stand-alone refrigerator thermometer to monitor the temperature. Your fridge may be set at 40 F or less, but that may not be a true indication of the actual temperature.
Don't wait too long to eat your leftovers. The Mayo Clinic suggests that to prevent food poisoning, leftovers should be consumed within three to four days. If you have any doubt, you should throw your leftovers out.
- Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety: "Popular Ethnic Foods in the United States: A Historical and Safety Perspective"
- Kitchn: "The Best Ways to Reheat All Your Leftovers"
- USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service: "Leftovers and Food Safety"
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Burden of Foodborne Illness: Overview"
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: "Tips for Reheating Leftovers"
- Mayo Clinic: "Food Poisoning: How Long Can You Safely Keep Leftovers?"
- HelpGuide.org: "Healthy Fast Food"
- USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service: "Microwave Ovens and Food Safety"
- Slate.com: A Short History of the Chinese Restaurant