China has some of the most delectable and flavorful cuisines you could find anywhere in the world. One of the best ways to enjoy a savory bowl of Chinese food is to ensure it fully satiates you by being high in protein.
Read on to learn about the nine best Chinese foods containing the most protein, what components in each dish are the most prominent protein sources, and where you can find the best recipe for each dish.
Egg Foo Young
Kick-off your morning with the ultimate protein-enriched dish, egg foo young. This omelet dish is typically infused with various meats and vegetables, served on a bed of white rice, and sometimes topped with a rich gravy.
The main source of protein in this dish is found in the eggs and any supplemental proteins you might add. The average egg foo young dish requires anywhere from 6-10 eggs depending on the size of the dish.
There are 6 grams of protein in one egg, which means, on average, there are 48 grams worth of protein in this dish. And this is just from eggs alone. We haven’t even touched on the other components.
In addition to eggs, you can add various types of meats, fish, or shellfish to egg foo young, such as pork or prawns. Supplementing these ingredients, high protein vegetables, such as mushrooms, green beans, and bean sprouts frequently appear in or on top of this dish.
Lastly, topping your egg foo young with some form of gravy is another way to add an extra element of flavor and protein to pull this dish together. If you decide to go this route, be sure to make your gravy with stock because it is slightly higher in protein than broths.
|Average Protein||17 grams per cup|
|Best Recommended Recipe||Egg Foo Young by Sabrina Snyderby|
Moo Goo Gai Pan
If you’re looking for a simple stir-fry dish that you can toss together quickly after a workout and is packed with protein, try some moo goo gai pan.
Common in most stir-fry dishes, the prominent source of moo goo gai pan’s protein is found in your choice of meat and the vegetables you incorporate.
The most common meat used in moo goo gai pan is chicken. One cup of cubed or diced chicken contains 38 grams of protein. It is unlikely you will eat this entire cup in one serving, considering the number of vegetables it also contains, but it’s a step in the right direction for a high protein dish.
Of course, chicken is not an uncommon source of protein in any culture’s cuisine, so the element that really sets this dish apart is the high protein vegetables infused with the chicken and a light sauce.
Moo goo gai pan is typically made with mushrooms, broccoli, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, and snow peas. We will further discuss some of these vegetables in other recipes, so let’s focus on the vegetable most unique to this dish, bamboo shoots.
Certainly not a common cooking ingredient, the edible shoots of the bamboo plant are surprisingly rich in protein. One cup of raw bamboo shoots consists of 3.9 grams of protein. This makes them an exceptional addition to the dish and provides a great crunch and flavor similar to water chestnuts.
This dish is incredibly healthy due to its simple ingredients that are rich, not just in protein, but fiber and antioxidants as well. This dish is also low in calories and potentially low in sodium and sugars as long as you are conscious of your amount of sauce.
|Average Protein||15 grams per cup|
|Best Recommended Recipe||Moo Goo Gai Pan by Pickled Plum|
Put your drum sticks away. System of a Down, we’re talking about food here. Chop Suey might have a reputation for its musical prowess, but now it’ll have a reputation for being a Chinese dish with an exceptionally high amount of protein.
Chop suey is a delectable, saucy creation that consists of pork or chicken, eggs, and an assortment of vegetables.
We’ve already discussed the fabulous benefits of chicken and eggs in previous recipes, and they, of course, play a key role in the protein-count of this dish. However, the shining star of chop suey when it comes to protein is the bean sprouts.
Mung bean sprouts appear entirely unassuming, but don’t let their flimsy pale appearance fool you; these little guys are packed with protein. One tablespoon of uncooked mung bean sprouts consists of 3 grams of protein. That means one cup would have 48 grams, which is 10 grams more than a cup of chicken. Pretty good for a plant that most assume is all crunch.
So next time you opt for this tasty Chinese dish, be sure not to skimp on the bean sprouts. Try to incorporate them as a form of noodle substitute, and you’ll be full in no time.
|Average Protein||22 grams per cup|
|Best Recommended Recipe||Chop Suey by Nagi|
If the title of this classic Chinese dish isn’t enough to entice you to make it for dinner tonight, maybe ample amounts of protein will convince you.
Happy family is another stir-fry dish (as there are many in Chinese cuisine). Still, unlike moo goo gai pan, which has one meat and various protein-rich vegetables, the real protein kicker for a happy family is that it has not one, not two, but three types of meat.
In addition to all the common stir-fry vegetables (broccoli, water chestnuts, mushrooms, carrots, baby corn), the happy family optimizes on a wide range of meat selections that make this dish so heavy in protein that you’ll have to share to finish it all.
Common meats found in the happy family include
- Pork (Seasoned or BBQ Pork)
Of this list, we recommend incorporating a surf n’ turf approach with chicken, beef, and, to finish the protein knockout, scallops.
Scallops might seem like an adventurous albeit unorthodox meat for this dish, but trust us, if high amounts of protein are the goal, then they’re a great addition. There are 17 grams of protein in 3 ounces of scallops, which roughly measures to about 3-4 large scallop meats.
Most happy family recipes would recommend around half a cup of scallops to complete the dish, which would be around 32 grams of protein from the scallops alone.
If scallops aren’t your seafood of choice, shrimp are an exceptional alternative that is also high in protein. A cup of shrimp has about 24 grams of protein, which accounts for 77% of its overall calories. So, if you’re uncertain about the scallops, shrimp are a far more popular and cheaper option with just as much to offer in the protein department.
Add these ocean dwellers to all the other meats and veggies, and you’ll be chowing away at this dish for days.
|Average Protein||26 grams per cup|
|Best Recommended Recipe||Happy Family by Farah|
Kung Pao Chicken
Ah, a Chinese take-out classic. Kung pao chicken is renowned for its uncanny ability to be sweet, salty, and spicy all at the same time. This dish is perfect for those of you looking for a Chinese stir-fry dish with plenty of protein but focuses more on zing and heat than salty soy flavors.
As you can see, the main meat in this dish is chicken, and of course, chicken does wonders in terms of protein. But we’ve been there and done that. So, what makes this dish unique and causes it to rank so highly on the protein scale? The answer: peanuts.
Peanuts are a staple ingredient of kung pao chicken, and they’re a fantastic source of protein. These popular little nuts are so full of protein that it accounts for 22-30% of their total calories. There are 38 grams of protein in just one cup of peanuts. This ties them with a cup of cubed chicken, which is no easy feat.
Now, typically you wouldn’t have a whole cup of peanuts in your kung pao chicken. The average amount used is somewhere around 4 ounces, but that’s still a whopping 28 grams of protein on its own. So, if you’re aiming for a spicy high protein kung pao chicken, don’t skimp on the peanuts.
|Average Protein||34 grams per cup|
|Best Recommended Recipe||Kung Pao Chicken by Arlena|
Until this point, we’ve talked about high protein meats, vegetables, shellfish, and even nuts. But, a vital front-runner of the protein games is missing, and it’s a Chinese original. That’s right. We’re talking about tofu.
Ma-Po tofu is another spicy Chinese cuisine where those springy white cubes of tofu are surrounded by a heat-infused thin and oily sauce accompanied by seasoned minced beef.
Now, to be frank, tofu might be a bit lacking when it comes to the flavor department, but what it lacks in taste, it more than makes up for in protein.
Tofu is made from soy milk, which is where it gets all its protein because soymilk is produced from soybeans, one of the highest protein plants that weigh in at 68 grams of protein per cup.
Comparatively, tofu consists of 20 grams of protein per cup, which is enough to rival any meat source. Although on its own, the tofu in ma-po tofu might not have as much protein as some of the meats in our other dishes, it is still supported by a healthy portion of minced beef, and this more than makes up the difference.
|Average Protein||23 grams per cup|
|Best Recommended Recipe||Ma-Po Tofu by Andrea Nguyen|
Beef and Broccoli
This might not be the most exciting Chinese dish, but if you’re looking for mass amounts of protein in a simple, quick, and easy recipe, you can’t get much better than beef and broccoli.
For a dish with so few components, there’s a significant amount of protein here. Beef and broccoli are usually covered in a light sauce and placed on top of a rice bed. If rice were high in protein, then this dish would be the ultimate go-to, but as it stands, the protein king here is the beef.
Typically, a beef and broccoli dish is made with a flank steak, which will have varying degrees of protein depending on its size and weight. One raw flank steak weighing 475 grams (or 1.04 pounds) will have 106 grams of protein.
Quite the significant sum, but most people don’t sit down to a whole pound of steak when they make this dish. Realistically, they might eat around a fourth or fifth of this amount, which would equate to anywhere from 21-26 grams of protein.
This is still a quality amount of protein, especially when paired with broccoli. When raw, protein accounts for 29% of broccoli’s dry weight. Unfortunately, once it’s cooked, its high water content comes into play, and the green vegetable only supplies about 3 grams of protein per cup. Not as much as we would like, but still a fair amount to supplement our high protein beef.
|Average Protein||27 grams per cup|
|Best Recommended Recipe||Beef and Broccoli by Kelly Senyei|
Alright, alright. This isn’t technically Chinese food, but some Chinese food restaurants offer some Asian fusion dishes, so keep an eye out for this on the menu. Bowls are so popular right now, there are plenty of restaurants that have jumped on the bowl bandwagon. A sushi bowl is high in protein and has a wide range of variety and opportunity for personalization.
Sushi bowls, or even Poke bowls, take all the classic ingredients of sushi and incorporate and enhance them into a deliciously satiating meal.
The construction of a sushi bowl would start by filling the bottom of the bowl with perfectly cooked seasoned sushi rice and topping this with your favorite meats and vegetables in a perfectly sectioned formation.
Common vegetable toppings for sushi bowls include carrots, radishes, avocados, cucumbers, nori, and edamame. As this is a sushi dish, the popular meats that would accompany this vast selection of vegetables are salmon or crab.
The three ingredients of sushi bowls that contain the most protein are salmon, avocado, and edamame.
Salmon is a meat that will give the chicken a run for its money when it comes to protein. A piece of salmon that weighs 3 ounces contains about 17 grams of protein. This fish is easy to acquire and also boasts a large sum of omega-3’s for an additional health boost.
The health secrets of the avocado have become extremely popular in recent years with the rise of avocado toast and other humorous pop culture concoctions.
Fortunately, this bulbous green vegetable can do more than decorate toast; it can also provide a significant sum of protein. There are 2.9 grams of protein in one cup of sliced avocado, so be sure to add these on top of your sushi bowl before you chow down.
The last note-worthy ingredient is edamame. If you’re not familiar with Chinese food, this might be a new vegetable to you. Edamame is a preparation of immature soybeans, an ingredient that’s potential was discussed previously in our ma-po tofu listing.
This legume has 17 grams of protein, which closely rivals its tofu cousin and makes it a dangerous couch snack. Typically, edamame is so high in protein that it replaces any form of meat in a sushi bowl.
Once you’ve chosen your favorite high protein meats and vegetables, top your sushi bowl with an artistic drizzle of sriracha mayo and dig in.
|Average Protein||27 grams per cup|
|Best Recommended Recipe||Salmon Sushi Bowl by Meghan|
Chinese Pork Meatballs
Lastly, on our list, we have a dish that is essentially all protein for those of you really looking to get your fill.
Chinese pork meatballs are a lip-smacking Asian twist on an Italian classic. The biggest difference here is that ground beef is substituted for pork, and marinara sauce is swapped out for a savory sauce made of soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and brown sugar.
As there is only one protein present in this dish, we are obviously going to be discussing the wonders of pork when it comes to high protein. When cooked, 4 ounces of 72% lean ground pork contains 26 grams of protein.
Four ounces is about a fourth of a pound, which is typically a decent serving size for any meal. However, since Chinese pork meatballs are the stars of the dish, you are likely to eat a little over the typical serving size of meat in other dishes.
Therefore, if you are looking for a meat-heavy dish that is packed with protein and smothered in saucy goodness, making Chinese pork meatballs is your best choice.
|Average Protein||32 grams per cup|
|Best Recommended Recipe||Chinese Pork Meatballs by Michele Hall|