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January 2011 Cookbook of the Month: BREATH of a WOK

Welcome to our January COTM: THE BREATH of a WOK

Please use this thread for review and discussion of recipes from BREATH of a WOK. Give us the name of the recipe along with the page number. Photos are welcomed.

The Chowhound Team has asked me to remind you that verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is a violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.

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  1. Chicken with Sichuan Peppercorns (page 68)

    Cubed skinless, boneless chicken thighs are mixed with rice wine, cornstarch salt and white pepper. Add to wok with dried red chilies (I used Thai), stir fry for a minute or two, and remove to a plate. Stir fry sliced ginger, sliced garlic, roasted and ground Sichuan peppercorns, and chopped scallions for 15 seconds. Dump back in the chicken and add a sauce of black soy sauce, Chinkiang vinegar, sesame oil, sugar, chili oil, chicken broth, rice wine and salt and stir-fry just until chicken is cooked through and the sauce has thickened slightly.

    I made this as directed, except . . . . I always have ginger in the house. Always. I didn’t have ginger in the house. The recipe only called for 1 teaspoon, sliced, but the flavors in this dish were rather subtle and very well balanced and I’m sure the addition of the ginger would have made it even better than it was. The meat was wonderfully juicy and the ma and heat played off each other in a delightful but not at all assertive way. Young says in the headnote that she’s kept this medium hot and that you can increase the heat if you want by adding more chili oil. When I first tasted it, I thought I might want more Sichuan peppercorns. But by the time I finished dinner, I’d decided I wouldn’t change a thing.

    The isn’t replacing Dunlop’s Dry-Fried Chicken for me. But then, damned few recipes would.

     
    5 Replies
    1. re: JoanN

      Reading through your report I wondered how it would compare with Dunlop's Dry Fried Chicken - thanks for adding that comment at the end. Wish I'd been a guest at your place the past week - sounds like you've been doing some wonderful cooking.

      1. re: JoanN

        I believe the Chinese name for this dish is La Zi Ji. If it is, you simply must try it.

        SO GOOD. SO, SO GOOD.

        1. re: JoanN

          We had this for dinner tonight and we quite liked it. Even though I went to the store to buy ginger, I bought everything BUT that. So, like JoanN, we had this without ginger. Even so, I liked the gentle spiciness and the fragrance of the dish.

          1. re: JoanN

            I made this tonight. Broke down a chicken yesterday and saved one breast and one thigh for tonight. This amount of chicken was only 8.25 oz so I tried to reduce the other ingredients by the correct amounts, but it is possible that 2/3 of a 1/4 teaspoon didn't come out perfectly. :-)

            I really liked this dish, though once again, though I threw in an extra dried pepper and a little extra peppercorns, this dish wasn't at all fiery. Will make this again as a fast and easy weeknight dish. Served with the sweet/sour cabbage reviewed below.

            1. re: smtucker

              After a week in Portugal, I was craving something spicy, and also some vegetables that wasn't salad! Also needed something quick and easy, the ingredients for which could be picked up on my way home from the airport. After checking this thread, I decided this would fit the bill and it did. Delicious flavours from the peppercorns and chillis and the chicken was beautifully tender.

              Served with the stir-fried shitakes and sugar snaps from SFTTSE.

          2. Stir-Fried Shrimp with Garlic Sauce (page 106)

            Terrific . . . and really easy. Like so many other recipes from these two books that I’ve tried so far, the flavor is subtle and beautifully balanced.

            She recommends soaking shrimp in saltwater for five minutes to give it a crisper texture. Maybe that was why the shrimp seem so perfectly a point? Not the least over or underdone following her timing. Just perfect.

            The soaked shrimp is patted dry, stir-fried for about a minute before minced garlic and ginger is added, then you add a mixture of chicken broth, Shao Hsing rice wine, soy sauce, cornstarch, sugar, and ground white pepper and stir-fry for less than a minute until shrimp are “just cooked through” and sauce has thickened slightly. Stir in chopped scallion.

            This would be an especially good dish to make for a multi-course meal not just because it’s so good but because it’s so speedy ingredients to serving.

             
             
            22 Replies
            1. re: JoanN

              Golly JoanN, you've been busy! I can see this recipe is going straight to the top of my must try list! Very interesting about the saltwater tip.

              ~TDQ

              1. re: JoanN

                One of the Vietnamese cookbooks recommends a similar thing for shrimp - I think you toss the shrimp with salt, let sit for a bit, then rinse in cold water. I've been doing that ever since, regardless of what I'm using the shrimp for.

                1. re: JoanN

                  "She recommends soaking shrimp in saltwater for five minutes to give it a crisper texture. "

                  Funny, I've been doing that on my own for a while now. I generally keep a bag of frozen shrimp in the freezer, and when I want some for dinner, I just toss them in a bowl of cold water to thaw. A few years ago, it occurred to me that I could do a sort of 'quick brine' on them by salting the water that they're thawing in. It definitely firms them up.

                  I'm looking forward to making this dish too.

                  1. re: JoanN

                    One of my Thai cooking teachers said that the saltwater "wakes up" the shrimp, even if they've been beheaded and deveined (sounds kinda barbaric now!).

                    When i take the time to do this, even with frozen shrimp, it always seems to make a difference.

                    1. re: JoanN

                      So you think it would be possible to substitute calamari for the shrimp with the same technique? One of my local Chinese places has the BEST Salt and Pepper Calamari, and I would love to try this at home.

                      1. re: smtucker

                        I think you can sub. I'm going to try at some point. The squid will cook really quickly.

                        What Chinese place are you referring to?

                        1. re: beetlebug

                          Wang's. This is one of the dishes they do really well, and I crave them. :-)

                          1. re: smtucker

                            Wang's is breaded right? This will be different but the flavor should be similar. I'm going to look at JoanN's reference as well. But right now I am eating another batch of popcorn.

                            1. re: beetlebug

                              I had more popcorn yesterday. :) Did you change the proportion of oil to popcorn at all? (I didn't. I'm still worried about my patina.)

                              ~TDQ

                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                You can use less oil (2t) and more popcorn (2/3 c) with no problem. Your wok patina will really come along.

                                1. re: beetlebug

                                  That's 2 teaspoons? Pretty awesome. I saw in the other thread you used Dunlop's swirl and dump method of seasoning first. Excellent!

                                  ~TDQ

                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                    Yup, teaspoons. It may have been less. The swirl and dump method really heats up the wok so less oil is needed. Plus, more popcorn (twice the recipe amount).

                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                        OK ladies, enough with the popcorn. i'm getting really jealous. One of my very favorite snack foods.

                              2. re: beetlebug

                                I like the idea of no breading to be honest, but sadly, no calamari at the Reliable today, so this project will have to wait.

                            2. re: beetlebug

                              Actually, I just realized that you were talking about a different dish. I made a salt/pepper shrimp on the other thread. Those are the flavors that you may be seeking - also unbreaded.

                            3. re: smtucker

                              I think this recipe (Stir-Fried Shrimp with Garlic Sauce) would work with squid, but if you're looking for a recipe for salt and pepper calamari, this isn't it. At least, this dish wasn't anything like salt and pepper squid or shrimp that I've had in restaurants. There is a recipe in the book for Lee Wan Ching's Sizzling Pepper and Salt Shrimp. Perhaps you were thinking of adapting that recipe?

                              1. re: JoanN

                                Joan, you are right! I am looking at the recipe on page 104...not page 106.

                                I am going to give it a try! Why not? We can always order from Wang's if this is a total disaster.

                            4. re: JoanN

                              The Chinese hate shrimp that has a mushy texture. The quick salt cleaning is a popular technique that transforms the texture giving the shrimp a "crispness" or bite. I hope that explanation clarifies the salt wash.

                              1. re: graceyoung

                                Ms Young, thank you so much for your explanation. We love the recipes we've cooked from your books this month.

                              2. re: JoanN

                                Stir-Fried Shrimp with Garlic Sauce, Pg. 106

                                We made this recipe last night and Loved it. It was 1/3 of an abbreviated meal for the Lunar New Year. JoanN described the prep and direction so well that I really don't have anything to add. We followed the exact recipe even to the brining of the shrimp which were wild Florida gulf shrimp. These beauties have a such a wonderful flavor on their own and this recipe did them justice. The other two dishes were stir-fried snow peas and steamed Jasmine rice.
                                Gung hay fat choy, everyone...

                                1. re: Gio

                                  Gung hay fat choy, Gio. I love the shrimp brining tip. I've used it all year long, even with non Chinese recipes!

                                  ~TDQ

                              3. David Camacho’s Stir-Fried Shiitake Mushrooms (page 144)

                                There’s a new vendor at my local farmers market selling the most beautiful mushrooms so I bought a pound of shiitakes and decided this simple recipe would be a marvelous way to show them off. It was.

                                Stir-fry minced ginger for a few seconds, add trimmed and halved mushrooms and stir-fry less than a minute more. Add a sauce of chicken broth (she calls for homemade, but I cleaned out my stash over Thanksgiving so used Dunlop’s Everyday Stock instead), Shao Hsing wine, and soy sauce and shake the covered pan as if making popcorn for 4 to 5 minutes until the liquid is absorbed. (Does she really mean to shake the continuously? Wasn’t gonna do that. I sort of shook it every 30 seconds or so.) My sauce was gone in 4 minutes and I caught it just before the mushrooms were going to stick badly. You need to keep an eye on it. Not easy to do when there’s a lid on. To finish, swirl in some sesame oil (she calls for a tablespoonful, I used 1-1/2 teaspoons) and add a bit of salt.

                                I liked this a great deal. Especially as a side dish accompanying something with a sauce and a bit of a kick. I served it with some leftover Chicken with Sichuan Peppercorns and it was a terrific combination. But next time I make it I’ll use button mushrooms. I’ll have you know that’s $16 worth of mushrooms, two not-all-that-generous servings, sitting in the bottom of the wok.

                                 
                                2 Replies
                                1. re: JoanN

                                  Oh, small $8 servings of mushrooms will not go over well in my house! Button button who's got the button.
                                  But my wok arrived today, soon I'll try/fry too.

                                   
                                  1. re: blue room

                                    Yeah. Glad I tried it once. But unless I find Shiitakes at greatly reduced prices, it'll probably cremini or button for me, too.

                                2. Millie Chan’s Chili Shrimp p. 105 http://tinyurl.com/349vnub

                                  We really liked this one. We only made a half recipe for the two of us and wished we’d made a full batch. I was tempted to use less oil than called for, but am staying true to the recipes until I break in my wok.

                                  Brine shrimp in salt water for an hour. I noticed JoanN reported on Stir-Fried Shrimp with Garlic Sauce that also calls for brining, but hers was only 5 minutes. Stir fry shrimp (that was patted dry) until pink for about 1 minute, swirl in Shao Hsing then set shrimp aside on a plate. Add minced ginger, scallions and mild chili pepper (I prefer it spicy, so I used a jalapeño) to wok until fragrant, then add mixture of soy sauce, sugar and chili bean sauce, and add shrimp until cooked through. Garnish with sprigs of cilantro. We really enjoyed this dish. It came together quickly, loved the flavors (fragrant and a little spicy) and we ate it at room temperature with brown rice and Lee Wan Ching's Chinese Broccoli with Ginger Sauce.

                                  Lee Wan Ching's Chinese Broccoli with Ginger Sauce p. 140 http://tinyurl.com/3y5rr2e

                                  This is a much subtler dish and it paired well with the spicier Chili Shrimp. Stir fry ginger slices until fragrant, add broccoli stalks (cut in 2” pieces) until bright green, and then broccoli leaves until limp. Next, one stirs in a mixture of chicken broth (I made the one from SFTTSE), cornstarch, salt, sugar and ginger juice and cook until thickened slightly. A nice, simple treatment for the crunchy Chinese broccoli.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: BigSal

                                    Millie Chan's Chili Shrimp

                                    This is yet another recipe that I made because of a rave review on TDQ's COTM/easy weeknight dinners thread, and wow, was it ever a hit. My husband ate his whole plate without commenting (which had me slightly nervous) and then looked at me and said "Phenomenal." Lulu also cleaned her plate and said it was great. I used frozen shrimp and because of the packaging had to go with 1 1/2 lbs of shrimp instead of 1 lb, so upped the other ingredients accordingly. I had hoped we would have plenty of leftovers - but only enough for Lulu to have it for dinner during tomorrow's date night - Lucky Lulu! Really really loved it, and it was so incredibly easy. I served it with jasmine rice and roasted broccoli. The whole thing was fantastic. Thank you Big Sal!

                                    eta: because I had extra chopped green onions and no cilantro I garnished with the extra chopped green onion. We loved it that way. I have a feeling this will be made often this coming summer when I won't have as much time to cook (because of having Lulu around the house more, or having to run her to daily camps).

                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                      I'm so glad to hear this was a hit with the family!

                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                        So here it is summer, and just as I expected this recipe came in handy. Lulu had camp until noon, then some errands, then a playdate here from 2:15 until I drove her friend home at 4:45. I did all the prep work, got the sheet pan of broccoli ready for roasting, pre-boiled the water for the rice, and then when I got home it was super quick to put together Millie Chan's Chili Shrimp. Now, I *did* forget about the whole salting thing, so it probably only got about 15 minutes worth of salting, but not a problem, still absolutely delicious and we all agreed that we could easily eat this once a month (or more). Restaurant worthy, and quick and easy too. I don't think you could ask for much more than that.

                                    2. Dammit - these reports are making me want this book too. I hate you all.

                                      * Sits on hands and switches off internet *

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: greedygirl

                                        The reports are insanely compelling, aren't they. But, I can't hate the messengers so I've chained myself to the chair... for today anyway. I'll do a Google search to find recipes from BOAW on-line. But if I can't find much, I can't be held responsible for my next course of action. Can I?

                                        1. re: Gio

                                          Hey! If you chain yourself to a chair you should toss the key across the room so you can't just unpadlock yourself whenever you have one of these book purchase frenzies.

                                          So I guess that now greedygirl has turned off her computer we can talk about her behind her back, eh? mwahahahahahaa! Anyway, she should talk after luring me into spend big bucks getting both Ottolenghi books.

                                          1. re: oakjoan

                                            Ah, but those Ottolenghi books made you a better person, didn't they.

                                      2. Cousin Zane's Sichuan Beef p.95

                                        I hadn't done any planning when I did the grocery shopping yesterday beyond knowing I wanted to do chicken, beef and pork stir-fries this week. So when I came to cook the beef one tonight I had to do a bit of adjusting to this recipe since I didn't exactly match on the ingredients.

                                        The flank steak was sirloin tips and the green bell pepper was broccoli. But really liked it, and the kids did too. The beef was marinated in rice wine, soy and ginger for 30 mins before being drained. The beef is then stir-fried with more ginger then drained while the vegetables cook. The sauce of hoisin, chile bean paste, ketchup and soy was really tasty, not too spicy for the kids, but enough flavor for me.

                                        Definitely going in my stir-fries rotation.

                                        7 Replies
                                        1. re: JaneEYB

                                          Cousin Zane’s Sichuan Beef – p. 95

                                          Tonight it was our turn to give this a try and like Jane, we were really happy with the results.

                                          Now, I did have all the right ingredients on hand but, didn’t quite make the recipe as directed due to a misunderstanding! The recipe calls for the use of 1 cup of homemade chicken stock – check. . . .had this and, measured it out.

                                          So, like many of Young’s recipes, you sear your beef for a minute then stir-fry until beginning to brown then in this case you remove it along w any pan juices and drain it over a plate. Well, my juices were plentiful and later on when the directions said to stir the broth back in, I accidently poured those juices in, forgetting my broth. Not sure how things would have turned out if it had been made properly but we loved it this way. There was plenty of rich-flavoured, gravy-like sauce that was just delicious. I’m almost afraid to make it the right way since we enjoyed this so much. One of our favourites so far. I’d highly recommend this dish.

                                          We served this w steamed Jasmine rice and Classic Dry-Fried Pepper and Salt Shrimp from p. 166 in SFSE. Here’s the link to that post and photos if you’re interested:

                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7567...

                                           
                                          1. re: JaneEYB

                                            Cousin Zane's Sichaun Beef - p. 95

                                            I actually made this long ago, way before COTM. It was the first recipe I made from this book. I made it on my outdoor burner in a 16" cast iron wok. I made the recipe as directed, with the one exception that I substituted skirt steak for flank. I simply prefer skirt and tend to have some in the freezer.

                                            I have to say, I really did not like this recipe. This is more a matter of personal tastes than anything wrong with the way the recipe is written. I don't like very saucy stir fries, and this one just had too much sauce for me. It calls for a whole cup of broth, in addition to a hefty amount of ketchup and hoisin sauce. I have also come to realize that I really don't like ketchup in my stir fries. I am not much of a ketchup eater to begin with.

                                            After making this, I put this book aside for a long time, and almost gave it away in one of my cookbook purges. I'm really glad I didn't do that. COTM has prompted me to revisit the book and I have found other recipes in it that are much more to my liking.

                                            1. re: MelMM

                                              Oh, I'm sorry this recipe didn't work for you, but you bring up a point I've been curious about: your outdoor burner. It gets so hot in my kitchen at the height of summer. Do you think I can wok over my Weber gas grill?

                                              What is your gas burner like?

                                              ~TDQ

                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                Well, you found the burner, as your later post shows. As for your second question, I think you probably could, with a flat-bottomed wok. Try it! Heat is heat, right? I'd be interested in hearing how it works out.

                                                1. re: MelMM

                                                  I think I shall, although, it won't be for several more months. It's 4 degrees F right now, and that's almost a 20 degree improvement over yesterday. This is why I have lots of time to play on the internet and give my wok facials lately!

                                                  ~TDQ

                                              2. re: MelMM

                                                Funny, isn't it? I really like stir-fries with a lot of sauce. Sometimes I think I could just eat the rice and the sauce and forget the protein.

                                                But I'm with you 100% on the ketchup. Kind of wanted to try this recipe after the two rave reviews, but have been sidestepping it for exactly that reason. Maybe I'll just try it without and see what happens.

                                                1. re: JoanN

                                                  Maybe try substituting some tomato sauce or watered tomato paste along with a bit of sugar (brown or white) for the ketchup.

                                            2. Aunt Yi's Stir-Fried Garlic Spinach, page 138

                                              This is very similar to the recipe that Gio reports on the Stir-Fry thread, but at the end you also add some Shao Hsing rice wine, which is why I selected it.

                                              Next time, I will add more garlic than the recipe indicates, and reduce the oil in half since I felt that this was too oily for my tastes. My eating companion however had no issues and scarfed down two servings.

                                              17 Replies
                                              1. re: smtucker

                                                smtucker--re: using less oil, do you have a new wok (as I do) or a broken-in, fully seasoned wok? I wonder if I can get away with less, too...

                                                ~TDQ

                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                  My wok was seasoned yesterday, and this was the first dish I made in it. I believe that I could have easily reduced by half and still had no sticking. I do feel that this carbon steel wok doesn't want to stick like the old one. I am all for reducing oil if it isn't bring function or flavor to the party.

                                                  I plan to keep experimenting to see how much reduction is possible.

                                                  1. re: smtucker

                                                    Interesting! Well, I'm interested in reading about your experiences with less oil , so of course, please do post about them!

                                                    What I'm worried about is her comment that new woks are hungry for oil. She says ultimately, a well-seasoned wok uses less oil, but it seems like it takes some time (I wish I knew how many uses that is) to achieve that.

                                                    JoanN says the Dunlop method of seasoning a wok enables you to use less oil in your actual cooking, too, so it's good to know you're also having luck with that. I wonder if that's a good compromise between allowing a young wok to have its oil, without using too much to cook your food.

                                                    In the meantime, I will continue to use my wok to make popcorn. My bacon frying days are going to be somewhat limited from here on out. (My recent adventures in bacon at breakfast were a short indulgence over the New Years weekend. Now, it's back to Weight Watchers I go, though, thankfully I actually still lost a small amount of weight over New Years week, despite the bacon, my share of champagne, and even a cheeseburger & fries outing. )

                                                    ~TDQ

                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                      Answering my own question above about how long it takes a wok to blacken. On pg. 52 in Boaw she says that a cast iron wok takes about a year to blacken, depending on how often its used. And a carbon steel wok takes "longer ." She's recommending you use your wok every day, or at least weekly if you are serious about seasoning it and achieving the desired patina.

                                                      ~TDQ

                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                        Even though my wok is imperfectly seasoned, and there are definite bare patches, I never seem to have a problem with sticking. My stainless skillet sticks more even using more oil.

                                                        1. re: sarahcooks

                                                          Maybe I'm just going to stop worrying about it then, unless I start to have problems with sticking or actual cooking. Thank you to you and JoanN.

                                                          ~TDQ

                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                            This is an interesting conversation you're having regarding how many times you must cook with your wok before it requires less oil. I've never done a wok oil "analysis" like that but it makes me think I should the next time I break in a new wok. If you cook regularly with a carbon-steel wok I would say it generally takes about 2 years before a wok acquires that gorgeous ebony black patina. However, I took a brand new wok on book tour in May and after 7 months of travel it has a patina that almost rivals my 10-year old wok. You can see a photo of it on my website.
                                                            Nonetheless, long before a wok reaches the ebony black patina state the nonstick surface will be achieved. I would guess it's about 2 months of steady cooking. Keep in mind woks are like people---we all age differently. But as TDQ says you shouldn't get too caught up on the details of how perfectly your wok is seasoned. Just keep cooking in your wok and the fabulous patina will come!

                                                            1. re: graceyoung

                                                              What a pleasure that you have stopped in to help us!

                                                              As you may have read, many of us are using the Dunlop swirl and dump method with the oil, before adding oil for cooking. This has allowed me to reduce the amount of cooking oil, except for the dishes that call for ground meat.

                                                              Totally love using the wok for popcorn. Have some pork belly curing so I can try bacon next week.

                                                              1. re: graceyoung

                                                                Timely! I've had the wok for a week+a day (waiting cold & bare!) and today my "...Sky's Edge" arrived!
                                                                Next week will be fun.

                                                                1. re: blue room

                                                                  Blue room I'm glad your book arrived! Have you figured out which recipe you'll start with?

                                                                  ~TDQ

                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                    I'm looking at "Spicy Orange Chicken" over (white!) rice. (pg 119) No particular reason, it just looks good. But first I must season the wok. I've re-read all the recent pertinent threads on this subject -- haha thanks to all those who have gone before. I could have seasoned it according to the instructions that came with the pan, but wanted to wait to read the info in "...Sky's Edge".
                                                                    Had to laugh at myself, was looking for the dessert section in the book for a little stupid while yesterday...

                                                                    1. re: blue room

                                                                      Are there desserts in the book? What kind, if you have a moment.

                                                                      I gave the book to my SO and may have to filch it from him if it has some desserts.

                                                                      We're cooking Asian at a friend's tonight, and I made a frozen coconut milk confection with toasted coconut from The Sweet Spot. Which looks promising. And have been interested in some tapioca desserts. Anything like that in BOAW?

                                                                      1. re: karykat

                                                                        No desserts in BoaW. None at all.

                                                                        1. re: JoanN

                                                                          Well not exactly true. There are the Candied Walnuts on p 215. I wouldn't serve them as THE dessert. They are a sweet snack item, but they would be ultra decadent roughly chopped and sprinkled on top of vanilla ice cream. Just a thought if you need a break from stir-frying. :)

                                                                          1. re: graceyoung

                                                                            :) thank you for this "sweet" info.

                                                                        2. re: karykat

                                                                          No, no desserts-- I was laughing at myself for expecting desserts to be in a stir-fry book, just a habit I guess, from more general cookbooks.
                                                                          A chilled coconut milk sweet sounds perfect.
                                                                          I have kept a picture of "Oranges Orientale" for years -- it is as you see, a carefully peeled (supremed?) orange cut into slices like latitudes on a globe. Sauced with a sweet orange sauce and delicate candied orange peel. But I only saved the picture, not the sauce recipe! I suppose I can find it online. It always seemed a nice dessert for Chinese food.

                                                                           
                                                                          1. re: blue room

                                                                            Beautiful orange dessert!

                                                                            I did get my hands on a copy of the book so I can follow along with you now.

                                                                            The frozen coconut milk dessert was simple and turned out to be very refreshing.

                                                  2. Uncle Sherman's Home-Style Chicken and Vegetables pg. 69

                                                    I took a few liberties here, as I was after a basic chicken stir-fry and this seemed to fit the bill, but I didn't have all the right condiments or veggies on hand.
                                                    I had two chicken breasts to use up, and I put them in the intial marinade and pretty much followed the recipe as its stated. Sadly, i had no bean sauce and I think this is largely why the flavor was a bit lacking in the final dish.
                                                    Sliced ginger, garlic (mine was slivered), cornstarch, soy, oil and salt go into a bowl with the sliced chicken. This sits for a bit. You also combine a little cornstarch with some soy and water to be added to the final moments of cooking.
                                                    Broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy and button mushrooms are what's called for. I used shallots, buttons, red pepper, carrots, and canned water chestnuts, bamboo shoots and baby corn.
                                                    Saute the chicken to brown, not cook through, remove and reserve. Add more oil, the remaining ginger and garlic and the veg. Stir fry briefly, then add the remaining two teaspoons bean sauce. Here you also add a 1/4 c of water with some more salt. Woops. No wonder I had barely any sauce to speak of.
                                                    Return reserved meat to pan, add cornstarch/soy mixture and bring to a boil, stirring as you go.
                                                    I garnished with the called for cilantro and lots of garlic chives. In the end I added a big scoop of Yank Sing chile pepper sauce, which does have beans in it.
                                                    I liked this dinner, it was great over brown rice.
                                                    It was also totally basic and not something you really need a recipe for. -Can I say that though, since I actually failed to follow the recipe correctly...hmmm. It did make me want to stir-fry more often though, and I plan on picking up a wok on Clement street tomorrow.

                                                    5 Replies
                                                    1. re: rabaja

                                                      rabaja: I noticed you used red pepper in your dish. That reminded me of one of my absolute favorites from Dunlop's books (can't remember which one) which was a stir fry with green peppers (I used green and red and yellow) and peppery spices. I make it at least once a month now. I'm going to have to check to see if Breath of The Wok has some pepper recipes.

                                                      1. re: oakjoan

                                                        There's a recipe for Slow Stir-Fried Peppers that sounds absolutely delicious!
                                                        It says this method is good with Shitakes too, I bet it would be devine with a mixture of the two.

                                                      2. re: rabaja

                                                        We made this for dinner tonight (as written). As I was making it, I was thinking this is a good recipe to to use up vegetables in the fridge. I wasn't sure if the broccoli and cauliflower would cook through, but they did. It is a pleasant enough dish, but not craveworthy.

                                                        1. re: BigSal

                                                          I followed this recipe to the letter, apart from missing out the mushrooms, and we thought it was very good. We liked the combination of veggies - broccoli, cauliflower & bok choy - though as BigSal says you could really make it with whatever you have in the fridge. The veggies were fairly crunchy, which I like and there was good flavor from the chicken marinade and the black bean sauce.

                                                        2. re: rabaja

                                                          Uncle Sherman's Home-Style Chicken and Vegetables pg. 69

                                                          I made this tonight, reorchestrated a bit. I had about 6 oz of chicken thigh bits [from deboning and trimming bone-in chicken thighs for Cradle of Flavor's satay] and some beautiful broccoli from an area farm.

                                                          Made the full amount of "sauces" but increased vegetable content a great deal, including shredded yellow carrots, shredded broccoli stems, and scallions. Substituted napa cabbage for the bok choy [again, another Farmer's market purchase] and since I didn't have mushrooms, omitted.

                                                          This was a fine meal, if a bit one-dimensional. On the table was a dipping sauce I made for the dumplings, and we all ended up adding it to our plate since it really improved the main dish tremendously. I just think Uncle Sherman needs some acid. Served with pork and cabbage dumplings, and Jasmine rice.

                                                        3. Chicken Lo Mein pg. 125

                                                          This Lo mein recipe calls for chicken, carrots, green pepper, celery and garlic, plus the chicken of course. Except I used pork tenderloin. The meat gets sliced and then treated to itty bitty amounts of various things like cornstarch, soy, rice wine, etc.

                                                          Noodles are cooked in advance, drained, rinsed, and mixed with a teaspoon of sesame oil. I used regular old spaghetti. Then in a wok, garlic gets fried, then meat added. That is removed and the veggies go in. Meat gets added back, along with a mixture of soy sauce, rice wine and oyster sauce. Stir in the noodles and cook for a few minutes until the meat is done.

                                                          I didn't have have oyster sauce, so used a Thai fish sauce instead. And I used sherry instead of the rice wine. This was a nice, light Lo Mein, and very easy to put together. We ate it all up. I thought the meat was wonderfully tender! (That's a real coup in my kitchen.)

                                                          Here is my picture. No snarky comments about the wok, please. I found it hiding in the darkest corner cupboard. Never been used before, and I have no idea where or when I got this. Must have been a present I thought I'ld never use, because, it looks, so, ahem "non-stick."

                                                           
                                                          1. Martin Yan’s Genghis Khan Beef – p. 91

                                                            Prep is very straightforward. A flank steak is cubed and marinated in a cornstarch, black and regular soy mixture. Meanwhile scallions and garlic are sliced and Thai bird chilies are stemmed. (Cue the sneezing!! Wow these were hot ones!) Wok is heated, a tbsp of oil added and then the meat is spread evenly in the wok ( a technique I’ve seen replicated in Young’s other recipes and which I’ve come to quite like). You let the meat sear away, undisturbed for 30 seconds then the fun begins. A quick stir-fry to brown all over then the meat is removed. In goes 1 ½ tsp more oil then the garlic and chilies get a quick sizzle ‘til fragrant (ooooh, what a lovely aroma!) Scallions, then beef join the chili-garlic mix along with a Sambal/Hoisin/Sesame oil mix for a final spin around the wok and, in less than 5 minutes after you started. . . . you’re done!! Did I mention how much I love this COTM!!!

                                                            Wow! We just loved this dish. I’ve never prepared flank steak in this manner in the past and was skeptical as to whether it would be tender with only 20 minutes of marinating. Typically I’d marinate overnight prior to grilling and slicing for service. Well, I needn’t have worried because those little cubes of beef were tender, juicy and had just the right amount of “pinkness” in the centre for our tastes. The sauce itself was gravy-like in appearance and had just the right amount of heat. So glad we tried this recipe, everyone loved it and I’ll be happy to add it to my collection of Chinese go-to recipes.

                                                            I served this with steamed Jasmine rice and, Stir-Fried Bean Sprouts with Chili Bean Sauce from p. 200 of BoaW. Review and photos of that recipe are here:

                                                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7567...

                                                             
                                                             
                                                             
                                                            47 Replies
                                                            1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                              That looks and sounds delicous Breadcrumbs. I'm linking the recipe so I can make it later this month:
                                                              http://books.google.com/books?id=QDCf...

                                                                1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                  That looks so good, I'll definitely have to try it!

                                                                  1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                    We made this for dinner tonight too and it was a hit! The sweet hoisin blended with the sambal, garlic and sesame oil make a luscious sauce. No question we will make this again.

                                                                    1. re: BigSal

                                                                      Thanks so much everyone! I'm really looking forward to re-visiting the books tonight, this time its chicken and rice dishes.

                                                                    2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                      We were going to try Martin Yan’s Genghis Khan Beef tomorrow night and Martin Yan's Mandarin Five-Flavored Boneless Pork Chops tonight, but when I realized it was going to take an hour of marinating and braising for the pork chops, I feared we might starve before dinner was done. So, we'll have that tomorrow night.

                                                                      I had everything I needed to make the Genghis Khan Beef, except scallions. Well, I had scallions, but they were really far gone. So, unfortunately, I had to do without. But the beef was still astonishingly tender and delicious and we very much enjoyed this dish. My husband thought it needed something more, peanuts he thought, but I figure the missing "something more" was probably scallions.

                                                                      We served this over brown rice and with a bacon and cabbage dish from SFTTSE which I will post about in the appropriate thread.

                                                                      Quick, easy, definitely one I'd do again.

                                                                      ~TDQ

                                                                      1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                        I haven't been feeling well (nothing serious, just a cold), so my husband is cooking dinner. He enjoyed Martin Yan’s Genghis Khan Beef so much that he's making it for dinner tonight!

                                                                        ~TDQ

                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                          Sorry to hear you're under the weather DQ, I can certainly empathize as Mr bc & I have been battling colds for the past week . . . .naturally he's far more ill than I am though!! ; - )

                                                                          Glad to hear the Beef was a hit at your house, we're definitely adding it to our rotation as well.

                                                                          Bon Appetit! (not sure how to say that in Chinese!!! ; - )

                                                                          1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                            He called from the kitchen, "I make fun of your mise en place, but now I know why you do it!"

                                                                            ~TDQ

                                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                              Brace yourself, this might not taste anything at all like your version!! LOL

                                                                              1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                It didn't! He forgot to add the garlic at the proper time, so, he added it at the end.

                                                                                I do think I've earned some additional kitchen cred. :) I don't think he'll tease me about my mise en place ever again.

                                                                                I hope you and your hubby recover from your colds, soon.

                                                                                ~TDQ

                                                                            2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                              Qǐng yòng. Bon Appetit.
                                                                              AKA : please use your chopsticks.

                                                                            3. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                              I made this for dinner tonight, too. I was a bit apprehensive when I saw how much hoisin sauce was in it. I usually don't care for that much sweet in my savory. But this was terrific. And, yet again, so quick and easy.

                                                                              (So tell me, TDQ, how many points is it? You gonna make me add them up myself?)

                                                                               
                                                                              1. re: JoanN

                                                                                Joan, I'm a naughty girl. I just added up the points for the flank steak and the oil and add in another point or two to cover the rest. I'll do it for real, now. *hanging head in shame*

                                                                                ~TDQ

                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                    Now, if I can just manage to eat only one serving I'll be fine. ;-)

                                                                                    1. re: JoanN

                                                                                      Yeah, that's the trick, isn't it?

                                                                                      ~TDQ

                                                                              2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                Martin Yan’s Genghis Khan Beef – p. 91

                                                                                My turn for this, and we loved it too! Of all of the Chinese food I've cooked, this reminded me the most of great restaurant food I've had. The beef was tender and flavorful, and the scallions were just right. Served it with broccoli and shiitake mushrooms (from BOTW, sort of) for a great meal.

                                                                                I did make some subs: 1 jalapeno sliced instead of 6 Thai chiles (not as pretty, but great flavor) and a big blop of Sriracha instead of the sambal. Nonetheless, the flavor was great. This is definitely on the make-again list.

                                                                                Oh, wait, this is the one I have out from the library. Hmm, guess I need a copy of this one too.

                                                                                1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                  Martin Yan’s Genghis Khan Beef – p. 91

                                                                                  Breadcrumb's description of the cooking process is so accurate that I won't repeat it here. We didn't love this as much as everyone else. For us, the issue was the sambal. When it hit the pan, we both began to cough like we had been hit by pepper spray. We also found the flavor of the sambal too strong. But, since we loved everything else about this dish, my goodness the beef was fabulous, I am going to make it again with my "mystery" ingredient.

                                                                                  I purchased a glass jar of something that I thought was chili bean sauce, but instead is chilis in oil, and the flavor of this condiment would please us more. This chili in oil is just as hot but I just enjoy the flavor more.

                                                                                  1. re: smtucker

                                                                                    Sorry it turned out so hot smtucker. I hope you do try it again w your mystery sauce! Funny you should have this issue, I had the same problem w my chlli bean sauce w a dish from SFttSE. (I'll paste the link below). I mean we love spicy food but that sauce took our breath away. I even posted a photo of the sauce to warn others!!

                                                                                    Then greedygirl posted and said she didn't find the (same brand) sauce that hot. I decided to pick up another bottle and there was a HUGE difference in heat. My guess is that the first bottle had been sitting around on the store shelf for some time though I can't say for sure since these sauces aren't dated.

                                                                                    Looking forward to hearing what your mystery ingredient yields!!

                                                                                    Here's the link to the other post I mentioned:

                                                                                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7567...

                                                                                    1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                      It wasn't the heat.... there was some undertone once the sambal was cooked that didn't appeal to me. I use sambal frequently right out of the fridge, so who knows what hit my mouth tonight. This chili oil is just as hot, and I have had it numerous times cooked and love the flavor.

                                                                                      1. re: smtucker

                                                                                        Huh, that's interesting smtucker. I wonder what it was about it. Let's hope the next time's a charm.

                                                                                          1. re: buttertart

                                                                                            I have this one:
                                                                                            http://www.amazon.com/Huy-Fong-Sambal...

                                                                                            And this is my mystery ingredient, which we have been tossing into these dishes regularly:
                                                                                            http://www.thisnext.com/item/9F4D0532...

                                                                                            1. re: smtucker

                                                                                              Those mystery ingredients (there are a lot of them in the market these days) are nice for adding flavor and heat, I think they're for finishing Sichuan dishes used in quantity. The Huy Fong sambal is Vietmamese and not Chinese, and the peppers in it always taste fermented to me. Look for Lan Chi brand chili bean sauce or chili garlic sauce, or another labeled something along those lines (sometimes touban jiang/douban jiang), and you'll be better off. I like the brands from Taiwan best (except for Lan Chi).

                                                                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                Thank you so much! This is information I can take to the Super88/HK market and use. Fermented, I think that is a very good word for the flavor we tasted last night. Might go today if it was over 20º....brrrrrr.

                                                                                                1. re: smtucker

                                                                                                  If you see the Evergreen brand sesame oil, get it, it's delicious. The two brands of any condiment I look for first are Kimlan and Wei-Chuan, big Taiwanese top-quality producers. Wei-Chuan also makes very nice frozen potstickers, egg roll skins, etc available at least in NYC Chinese market frozen food departments.

                                                                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                    Way-On is also a good brand for dumplings etc.

                                                                                              2. re: smtucker

                                                                                                Ha! I just got a jar of the second one as well - there are several types, mine has sichuan peppercorns in it. My friend mixes it with ketchup to make an instant dipping sauce for dumplings/gyozas. I've got another jar which is just labelled "hot sauce" which has broad beans in it. I'm going to try that with some of the Dunlop recipes.

                                                                                                1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                                  I like that stuff in my cucumber salad because of the toasted soybeans and sesame seeds etc. Sometimes labeled Guilin chili sauce. The first one I got came in a small jar with bumps on the glass (meant to look like an ancient bronze bell, goodness only knows why).

                                                                                                2. re: smtucker

                                                                                                  Re: the mystery ingredient - chili sauce in oil with the man face on the jar - I throw this into many Dunlop recipes. Specifically, off the top of my head, the dun dun noodles where it calls for hot chile oil. I throw in half this and half traditional red chile oil. It just gives the noodles and extra oomph.

                                                                                                  1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                    Which one do you have though - there's a whole range!

                                                                                                    1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                                      Hahahaha, I never noticed the range. I just grabbed the one with the man's face. The almost finished one in the fridge is "hot and spicy sauce," the one in the cabinet is "spicy chili crisp," who knows what I bought for my parents and what I've used in the past.

                                                                                                      Oh well, it always tastes great and somehow, I just trust the man's face.

                                                                                                      1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                        And before I look like a bigger idiot, just wanted to add - I look for the hot pepper flakes sitting in the oil.

                                                                                                        1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                          Apparently it's the favourite brand in China. And it's a woman, I think! The brand name is "Old Granny's Sauce" or similar. She sure is stern looking - I wouldn't have dared criticise her chili sauce.

                                                                                                          1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                                            There's a baby-food jar sized v hot Hunan chili condiment labeled Hunan Tiger Sauce (in Chinese) with black beans and garlic in it that we love - has an extremely unflattering caricature of a Hunanese peasant on the label. Must take a pic, you've got to see it.

                                                                                                  2. re: buttertart

                                                                                                    Oh my goodness!!!! I just found an expiration date on my sambal, and let's say this jar's time has come and gone. Best before December 2009.

                                                                                                    Never occurred to me that something with this many peppers could go bad. Guess I should pick up a new one, and try again.

                                                                                                    1. re: smtucker

                                                                                                      Are you sure that is the expiration date, not the manufactured on date? In China the standard to stamp the container with the date of manufacture and then stipulate the number of months to expiration.

                                                                                                      That said I stopped shopping at the old Super 88 locations a while ago due to some closer than they should have been to expiration products on the shelves (see the boston board for a lot of info on the whole Super 88/HK Market debacle).

                                                                                              3. re: smtucker

                                                                                                Martin Yan’s Genghis Khan Beef – p. 91
                                                                                                a revisit, served with Ming Tsai's Mandarin Fried Rice page 121

                                                                                                Inspired by a lovely package of skirt steak at Costco's this week, I decided to make this once again. I had the full number of scallions this time, and just omitted the sambal. Instead I used 8 thai chilis, really hot ones.

                                                                                                With a fresh hot, we really enjoyed this dish tonight. The light fried rice was a really nice counterpoint to the richness of the beef.

                                                                                                1. re: smtucker

                                                                                                  So glad you enjoyed it this time around smtucker, I adore Thai chilis and can imagine how wonderful this would be w them. I always have them in my crisper, I just love their clean, powerful heat. I became addicted to them while cooking from Donna Hay's books .

                                                                                                2. re: smtucker

                                                                                                  Martin Yan's Genghis Khan Beef - p. 91

                                                                                                  I had to jump in and try it too. My only issue was in the technique. I don't know if I should have drained the marinade better before adding the beef to the wok or what, but I got a film of corn starch thickened sauce covering the bottom of the wok immediately. I was afraid the whole time it was going to burn, or leave big globs in the dish. It ended up okay, but I had to keep the heat lower than I would have liked so it wouldn't burn, and had to take care not to scrape it off the bottom as I stir fried.

                                                                                                  The beef was tender and flavorful, but it wasn't our favorite. Could be that I used Huy Fong Sambal as that's what I had. Seemed a bit one-note somehow. My green onions were enormous too, and way too potent (even for someone who loves onions).

                                                                                                  http://i302.photobucket.com/albums/nn...

                                                                                                  1. re: sarahcooks

                                                                                                    Interesting. I didn't have any marinade in the bottom of my bowl. The meat absorbed it all. Were you able to get the meat seared?
                                                                                                    Nice to hear that I was not alone on the sambal. I omitted it last night and just used lots of fresh Thai chilis.

                                                                                                    1. re: smtucker

                                                                                                      No, I wouldn't have called it seared.

                                                                                                3. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                  Martin Yan’s Genghis Khan Beef, Pg. 91

                                                                                                  I'm here to tell you that this dish is terrific with Pork. Made it last night and subbed 4 boneless pork chops for the beef. I sliced them into chunks as described in the recipe then continued with the recipe as written but doubled the sauce ingredients because of the larger amount of meat I used. Ten scallions are called for in the recipe and I used that amount. Breadcrumbs described the procedure above so I'll just say that we Loved this dish. Really easy, quick and tasty. Steamed jasmine rice and steamed broccoli were the side dishes...

                                                                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                                                                    So glad you enjoyed that Gio, we've had it a few times since then and it continues to delight. I'll have to give it a try w pork now, thanks for the report.

                                                                                                    1. re: Gio

                                                                                                      Thanks for the report. I enjoyed the beef version and will have to try pork next. I should do it soon, as I do miss cooking from this book and SFTTE.

                                                                                                  2. Florence Lin's Slow Stir-Fried Red Peppers, pg 143

                                                                                                    This recipe could not be easier. 2 to 3 tbsp oil (I used Canola, about 1 1/2 tbsp), 2 red bell peppers sliced into 1-inch pieces, 1/4 tsp sugar, 1/4 tsp salt

                                                                                                    Heat up wok, swirl 1 TBPS oil, add red b.p.s and stir fry on high 1 minute. Turn heat down to medium and/or low as you feel necessary and stir fry another 8-10 minutes until skin is puckery. Add in more oil if at any point you think you need it (I added another 1/2 TBSP). Turn heat back up to high and stir-fry another 1 minute. Add salt and sugar, serve.

                                                                                                    Simple and pretty delicious. My husband thought it was too much of the same and wanted something else in there, scallions, or something, but I loved it exactly as is. Also, this recipe really is supposed to serve 4 as a side dish, but I divided it into 2 servings alongside roast beef sandwiches, so it wasn't meant to be served the way I served it.

                                                                                                    No point in taking a photo, mine looked just like the pic in the book, except for the patina of my wok.

                                                                                                    Speaking of the patina of my wok, I'm worried. It seems to be splotchy, which I was willing to accept as just part of peculiarities of my particular wok, but it's not smooth. She says a smooth interior is crucial. I think something from my first outing (when my wok was way too hot) maybe has stuck, so, I'm think I'm going to give my wok the salt scrub recommended by Ming Tsai.

                                                                                                    ~TDQ

                                                                                                    25 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                      It's way, waaay, too early for you to be worried about the state of your wok. You've cooked in it how many times? Three? Four? Just keep using it and stop agonizing over it. A salt scrub certainly won't hurt if there is indeed food stuck to it, but some splotchiness early on is to be expected. I think my wok is beautifully seasoned (a year or two later). It's black, shiny, slick on the bottom. But even my wok is still a bit splotchy on the sides.

                                                                                                      1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                        Really? I'm feeling a little better now.

                                                                                                        I've cooked from it 5 times now! There really isn't food stuck to it, that I can tell. It's just that the surface not only LOOKS splotchy (which I could live with), but it also feels splotchy. I was reading Face of a Wok in BOAW and she says the smoothness is what you're trying to achieve.

                                                                                                        I worry that my inaugural stir fry where I burned the chilies might have left something stuck to the bottom. Also, I realize I've been drying my wok over high heat, instead of low.

                                                                                                        So, do you think I should ignore the blotchiness and just keep cooking?

                                                                                                        By the way, I have to say, I was a little afraid to buy a wok. I just didn't like the idea of cooking with so much oil over high heat. (And that whole thing about not wanting to purchase a bunch of specialized equipment). I'm still not sure where I'm going to store my wok (right now it lives on the stove or on top of the fridge, which displeases me), but I think I'm pretty much over my fear of oil and high heat. The flat bottomed wok feels very stable and the sides are so high that it feels completely safe to me because I don't worry that anything is going to splash or jump out and ignite. I wish my stove were a tiny bit lower, but, oh well, you can't have everything! I still don't think I'm up to deep frying in my wok, I use an electric deep-fryer for that because it has a nice thermostat and a breakaway cord, but then again, I just don't deep fry much anyway.

                                                                                                        ~TDQ

                                                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                          I think there are pictures of woks at various stages of seasoning in "Stirfrying", aren't there? They do look gnarly for quite a while.

                                                                                                          1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                            In Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge there's a photo on p 22-23 that shows 3 woks: newly seasoned, after 4 months, and after 2 years. Until you reach a year a carbon-steel will look adolescent and awkward. Just keep cooking in it and avoid acidic ingredients like vinegar or lots of tomatoes that will strip the wok of its patina. If you do cook with these ingredients the moment the dish is out remove the food from the wok. If you let it sit in the wok for even a few minutes the patina will be removed.

                                                                                                            1. re: graceyoung

                                                                                                              GraceYoung--mine (carbon steel flat bottomed wok with helper handle) looks like the middle photo, perhaps because I've been making a lot of popcorn.

                                                                                                              GraceYoung--I know this is probably a ridiculous question, but is the splotchy surface of my immature wok supposed to FEEL smooth to the touch? It doesn't. It feels splotchy. Does that mean it needs a facial? It looks a little textured too. I don't know how to know if it's burned food or patina. I'm sorry for not knowing this, but I'm afraid to scrub it off.

                                                                                                              Also, I think I'm coming to the conclusion that I shouldn't be wokking on the highest heat setting on my gas stove, but that somewhere between 8 & 9 (out of 10) is where I should be... I don't know how many BTU's my stove has. It's just an ordinary Kenmore, but does that seem right to GraceYoung or anyone?

                                                                                                              As always, thank you. These books are a hit at my house. Last night my husband declared that the dish was the best stir-fry I'd ever done for him. I think he has a short memory, but what I really think he meant is I'm getting better at it. And I am. He's enjoyed many of the other recipes from these books quite a bit, too.

                                                                                                              ~TDQ

                                                                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                I read recently (I wish I could remember where...a blog perhaps) that on a gas stove the smaller burner should be used instead of the larger really hot one. The heat is concentrated on the center of the wok instead of up and over the sides. G hasn't tried that yet but I wish he would. My 30 y/o wok's wooden handles are charred, though I know he does reduce the heat from time to time.

                                                                                                                1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                  Oh, that is really interesting. I know exactly what you mean. I had been using the "big" burner at full heat, and lately have been turning it down a tad. But you're right, I could probably use the smaller burner at full heat. Seems so obvious, now that you've pointed it out. I will try that next time, thank you!

                                                                                                                  ~TDQ

                                                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                    I'm using a small burner on my electric range, with a round-bottomed wok & ring, and I still think I'm overheating on high. So I'm confused when writers say that Western stoves can't achieve the high heat needed. How can you not achieve high heat yet also overheat?

                                                                                                                      1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                                                                                                                        Karen_Shaffer Without seeing your set up it's hard for me to know. But I can't imagine putting a round-bottomed wok with a wok ring on the smallest burner on an electric range and getting sufficient heat. You'll know if your wok is hot enough by the sound when you're stir-frying. There should be a constant sizzle. It may not be crackling loud, but there should always be a hum. Do you get that stir-frying on your small burner?

                                                                                                                    1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                      It's been my experience that the larger burner is the best. I can't get enough heat with the smaller burner. If you have problems with your wooden handles charring, wrap them in aluminum foil. It's not attractive but it will prevent the wood from burning.

                                                                                                                      1. re: graceyoung

                                                                                                                        Oh... aluminum foil...! What a good idea. That's exactly what I'll do. Thank you. So, I guess we'll continue using the larger burner after all.

                                                                                                                    2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                      The wok doctor is in and is about to diagnose a wok she hasn't seen. Hmmmm....
                                                                                                                      I would say you should do the wok facial. It's a good treatment to give your wok every so often. It will give the wok a good cleaning and the oil will re-moisturize it so that you're not drying out the patina. And I guarantee you your wok will have a smoother feel but that also comes with time. The wok doctor is sensing that you're a little impatient with your wok's progress but every new wokker is. :)
                                                                                                                      If you have an ordinary Kenmore I would say your burner should be on 10. But if you're not comfortable stir-frying on such high heat I would lower it to where you're comfortable.
                                                                                                                      I'm really thrilled that your husband thinks you're cooking the best stir-fry. It gives me hope for my wok revolution!

                                                                                                                      1. re: graceyoung

                                                                                                                        Thank you, wok doc! I think your diagnosis that I'm impatient is accurate. Impatience is core to my personality. I think I'll do the wok facial as you prescribe. I'll see if I can take a before and after photo, too!

                                                                                                                        Actually, I'm happy to allow the patina to develop over time, but what I'm most worried about is being too zealous in scrubbing it as I think I was early on.

                                                                                                                        I'll let you all know how the wok facial goes. Thanks again!

                                                                                                                        ~TDQ

                                                                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                          I'm a little alarmed to hear that you are zealous in scrubbing your wok. After cooking in my wok I always soak it in water while I'm eating. Then I use the sponge side of a Scotch Brite sponge (you know the ones that have a yellow sponge and a green scrubby side). Normally after a water soaking of about 30 minutes, the sponge wash takes off everything. I never have to zealously scrub my wok.
                                                                                                                          Anyway, let me know how the wok facial goes. I'm curious.

                                                                                                                          1. re: graceyoung

                                                                                                                            Everyone else was alarmed that I was zealously scrubbing my wok, too, so I stopped. I was (and still am) soaking it in hot water while I ate, but afterwards I washed it using the textured side (with the criss-cross pattern) of one of these "jetscrubz"sponges because I didn't think it was that harsh, but I saw that I was getting down to the shiny carbon steel, so I stopped using the patterned side.

                                                                                                                            http://jetzscrubzusa.com/index.html

                                                                                                                            So, attached are my 1) before, 2) during, and 3) & 4) after photos of the Wok Facial Scrub on page 29 of SFTTSE.

                                                                                                                            Before I would describe the appearance as dry looking and the bottom of the wok looked mottled, but also "felt" mottled when I ran my hand across the surface. The salt scrub itself was kind of fun, though, you do (as the author warns) have to be very careful not to burn yourself. You can feel the heat coming through the layers of paper towel. You can see from the "during" photo that the salt looks almost like brown sugar by the end. The rubbing side of the paper towel was also a warm brown color. I did pay special attention to rubbing the areas that seemed to have the most texture "before."

                                                                                                                            After the wok facial scrub, the wok is still mottled looking, but it doesn't look quite as dry. And the texture feels very smooth, even though in the last photo it still looks like there's some residue when you look at the wok from an angle.

                                                                                                                            This is very easy to do and is probably much better for my wok than zealously scrubbing it with my textured sponge. Maybe it's something I'll try to do every couple of weeks or something.

                                                                                                                            Thank you!

                                                                                                                            ~TDQ

                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                              TDQ I love looking at your wok facial photos. I think your wok looks much better and cleaner. I'm glad to hear you've stopped with the zealous scrubbing.
                                                                                                                              The wok doctor suggests you clean your wok after each use with the sponge wash and water. Every few weeks do the wok facial.

                                                                                                                              1. re: graceyoung

                                                                                                                                Thank you very much for being so generous in sharing your insight with us! I am a much more confident wokker now, and we still have more than a week to go in wokking month!

                                                                                                                                ~TDQ

                                                                                                                        2. re: graceyoung

                                                                                                                          Oh, what I notice when I turn my burner up to 10 is that suddenly all of the sauce adheres to the bottom of the wok and it feels like the food is sticking, too. That doesn't seem to happen when the heat is between 8 & 9. I'm using the "large" front burner on my gas Kenmore, not the small front burner. Again, 14'' carbon steel flat bottomed wok with helper handle.

                                                                                                                          The dish my husband loved so much from last night was Jean Yueh's Beef with Onions and Peppers. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7567...

                                                                                                                          ~TDQ

                                                                                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                            So it sounds like heat level 8-9 is the one for you. Honestly you've got to find the right fit for every wok and stove. There's no set formula.

                                                                                                              2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                RE: TDQ's Stir Fried Peppers: I wish I'd read down to your post before posting about Dunlop's stir-fried green/red/, etc. peppers! Now all I have to do is look it up in the book I have in the kitchen!

                                                                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                  A new wok will look adolescent and splotchy for quite awhile. As JoanN says don't worry. There is a photo in SFSE p22-23 that shows the wok in 3 stages: newly seasoned, after 4 months of cooking, and a 2 year old-wok. What is Ming Tsai's salt scrub? Mine is on p29 of SFSE and uses a little salt and oil.

                                                                                                                  1. re: graceyoung

                                                                                                                    Wonderful of you to drop in! I had just finished reading through the Breath of a Wok when I wrote that post--on page 56 of BOAW you mention Ming Tsai's approach to cleaning and seasoning the carbon steel woks in his restaurant with salt and a bamboo brush, but on that same page you also mention a salt method your cousin's husband taught you, presumably for home cooks. For whatever reason Ming Tsai's approach of scrubbing salt with a bamboo brush made an impression on me, the way you described it. I haven't tried it yet, though. But, I probably will try the method you describe in the sidebar on that same page as I am certain it is more appropriate for the home cook! But, now I'll have to compare it to the one on pg 29 of SFSE since you've brought it to my attention.

                                                                                                                    Thank you!

                                                                                                                    ~TDQ

                                                                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                      The Ming Tsai salt and bamboo brush is ONLY for a restaurant wok. You've got to remember that in a Chinese restaurant a wok is used to stir-fry 150 to 300 dishes a day. That means those woks have a tough patina that can take a bamboo brush. If you use a bamboo brush on a home wok you'll scratch the patina right off. In BoW I give a recipe for cleaning a sticky/rusty wok with salt but I like the salt/oil recipe for cleaning in Sky even better. If you only use salt as in BoW it cleans the wok but it also dries it out. The combo of salt and oil in Sky cleans the wok and relubricates the wok.

                                                                                                                      1. re: graceyoung

                                                                                                                        What a great tip. I hadn't noticed the salt/oil combo in Sky. It's not often that I've used salt to clean my wok, but I have done it. Great to know there's a better way.

                                                                                                                2. Martin Yan’s Mandarin Five-Flavored Boneless Pork Chops (page 188)

                                                                                                                  Run, don’t walk. And if you don’t have Breath of a Wok, you can find the recipe here:

                                                                                                                  http://books.google.com/books?id=QDCf...

                                                                                                                  Half-inch thick boneless chops are pounded lightly to tenderize them and are marinated for half an hour in soy sauce, dry sherry, cornstarch, and five-spice powder. The recipe specifically calls for dry sherry, not Shao Hsing, and I had an open bottle of Amontillado, so that’s what I used. The chops are seared; ginger, garlic, onion, celery, and chili are stirred in; then all is braised for 30 minutes in the reserved marinade plus a half cup of water.

                                                                                                                  I started salivating the minute I made the marinade and didn’t stop until I had had seconds. Four servings? I don’t think so. Not that I wasn’t full after one, mind you.

                                                                                                                  I followed the recipe, but probably (didn’t measure) doubled the garlic and ginger. And I used two, instead of one, minced Thai chilis—seeds and all. With these changes the recipe had a good amount of kick to it, but I suspect there would have been enough for most even without my emendations. She doesn’t say how to serve it, so I sliced the chop, put it on top of some brown rice, and poured some of the luscious sauce over it. Not sure what I’d do if I were serving this to company. How do you serve a whole pork chop to eat with chopsticks?

                                                                                                                  Looks like we’re on a roll here with Martin Yan. No question I’ll be doing this again. Quite often, I suspect.

                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                  85 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                    So, do you think a Martin Yan book is the next big thing? I been wanting to try one of his books for a very long time. Especially after watching his shows...through the years.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                      I always loved watching Martin Yan on PBS. His food always looked delicious to me and I liked that he genuinely seemed to be enjoying what he was doing. His humor is terribly corny, but I can live with that. Surprisingly, I've never tried any of his recipes.

                                                                                                                      I wonder which is his best book?

                                                                                                                      ~TDQ

                                                                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                        I only own Martin Yan's China because it was an amazing deal at Costco one day. Everything I have made from the book [maybe 8 recipes] has been delicious.

                                                                                                                        http://www.amazon.com/Martin-Yans-Chi...

                                                                                                                        1. re: smtucker

                                                                                                                          That's a pretty solid endorsement. We might have to roll right into February with Martin Yan! I fear my husband might protest, but then again, he's always a good sport about eating whatever I serve him!

                                                                                                                          ~TDQ

                                                                                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                            My husband is really enjoying the change of cuisine. He was remarking over lunch that this is the time of year that is most difficult to get excited about food. Our local produce is gone, the Mediterranean flavors that he loves are hard to come by, and day in/day out of winter foods can get old. He is however, ready to have something that isn't "just a stir-fry" and I will do my best to change it up just a bit.

                                                                                                                      2. re: Gio

                                                                                                                        Can't pretend I wasn't thinking exactly that. I've heard the name, but I've never seen his show and I'm not familiar with any of his books.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                            Thanks for that, Gio. I'm a bit disappointed he doesn't have more recipes on his site. I'll have to Google around and see what I can see. Gotta say, though, that the Asian section of my cookbook shelves runneth over. I could be wrong, and I'm not even sure I want to know for sure, but I think I now have more Asian cookbooks than either Italian or French.

                                                                                                                            Martin Yan, here I come.

                                                                                                                            1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                              I don't have any of his books either. I did watch his early PBS shows and liked the way explained everything he was doing and why. Recently he had a few culinary travel shows which were better than others I've seen. His repartee is still corny but somehow endearing. I get the feeling he's a sweet man to talk to.

                                                                                                                              1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                I think because he wants you to purchase his cookbooks!

                                                                                                                                1. re: scoopG

                                                                                                                                  No! Ya think? ;-)

                                                                                                                                  ETA: A lot of cookbook authors publish recipes on their sites as a way of promoting their books. If I made a few recipes from his site and really liked them, I'd be more rather than less likely to buy one of his books.

                                                                                                                              2. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                Joan N: As one who lives across the SF Bay from Martin Yan (or at least he used to live in SF), and one who has seen him on local PBS stations for years, I can say that, if you can get over his irritating manner - waaaaay overly enthusiastic - his info and recipes are great. I always hate it when the TV chef keeps telling you how delicious this or that is.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: smtucker

                                                                                                                                    Oh, my! That's terrific. Some good looking recipes there. Thanks!

                                                                                                                                1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                  He was funny on the show. I think I once saw him carefully arrange shrimp on a platter one by one while explaining:
                                                                                                                                  "Boy, girl, boy, girl, boy, girl..."

                                                                                                                              3. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                Oh, that second photo is especially appealing! And I love pork chops!

                                                                                                                                ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                  The Chinese restaurant that I frequent cooks the pork chop and the rest of the dish. Then they use a cleaver to cut the chop into bit sized pieces, each with some bone still attached. Very easy to manage with chopsticks.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                    JoanN, this recipe sounds so delicious I think I'm going to have to do it tonight. But, since my wok is so young, I don't think I'm ready to braise in it yet, plus, I have my eye on a bacon and cabbage dish in SFTTSE that I'm planning for tonight.

                                                                                                                                    If you were to recommend alternative cookware for this dish, what might you suggest? I have a pretty large stainless steel skillet (probably an 11'' though I haven't measured it). I have a 12'' nonstick skillet. And I have a 6-quart Dutch oven.

                                                                                                                                    Will the Dutch oven work you think?

                                                                                                                                    Also, what do you think she means my saying to pound the pork in a "crisscross pattern"?

                                                                                                                                    Thank you!

                                                                                                                                    ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                      I would choose the vessel by the size of your pork chops. If they will fit in the stainless skillet I think that would be fine. Have to admit I have very little experience with nonstick cookware; I use it for nothing but omelets. Will the chops brown in it? If so, that would work, too. I think the DO would be overkill. Oh, Do you have a cover for both skillets? The dish is covered while cooking. There's not a whole lot of sauce, no more than a cup. So that shouldn't be an issue either.

                                                                                                                                      The light pounding is just to tenderize the chops. I used the back of the cleaver and just pounded in one direction, turned the chop a quarter circle, and pounded in the other direction. It's not something you see, so no need to try to make it even or pretty. Frankly, since I followed instructions, I'm not sure what the chops would have been like if I hadn't. Not significantly different, I suspect.

                                                                                                                                      Hope you like it as much as I did. I'm trying hard not to think about the leftovers in the fridge or they'll become brunch.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                        Oh, did you end up getting the cleaver?

                                                                                                                                        It sounds like my stainless steel skillet is the way to go on this one. I have one of those universal lids for it and the chops will brown in it (and probably won't in the nonstick skillet--good point.)

                                                                                                                                        Thanks for the tips! I'll let you know how they turn out.

                                                                                                                                        ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                          I inherited a cleaver many years ago. It's neither sharp enough nor strong enough to cut through tough bones and I was giving thought to replacing it. Now that I've done more research, I'm not in such a big hurry. I may some day buy a dedicated meat cleaver, but it keeps slipping down the priority list.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                            Well, if you have too many cleavers, that's less space and money for new cookbooks.

                                                                                                                                            Okay, I know it's a departure from the recipe, but I've pounded my pork chops and have them marinating in the fridge before I go off to work.

                                                                                                                                            I'm on a diet right now, and I am famished when I get home from work, so, I needed to find a way to speed this recipe up even a tiny bit.

                                                                                                                                            I hope my pork chops don't soak up too much of the marinade, as she has you add water to it and do something with it next. We'll see tonight!

                                                                                                                                            ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                      2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                        Oh you people are making me want to buy this book!!!!! I don't want to want to, but now I do.

                                                                                                                                        In response to Dairy Queen's concern about not braising in a wok that hasn't been broken in, is that because you don't want to undo your seasoning???? If so, I have bad new for you. I have had my wok for years and I still undo the seasoning (to some extent) every time I braise. It's just the nature of the beast.

                                                                                                                                        If you are adamant about not using the wok, I would try the Dutch oven, especially if it is a Le Creuset. it will give you good results for something like the pork chop recipe referenced above.

                                                                                                                                        Getting back to my concern, do I really need this book? I do have a wok, and if truth be told, I have a wok burner too....and a lot of asian cookbooks but none that I cook out of very often. I use my wok fairly frequently, but usually for veggie side dishes, fajitas and it is great for deep frying. The main reason I bought the dedicated wok burner was for the BTUs, I make stock on a pretty regular basis on this burner. Oh what to do, what to do?

                                                                                                                                        1. re: dkennedy

                                                                                                                                          @ dkennedy: I'm surprised to hear you say that you undo your seasoning whenever you braise. Below is a photo of my wok. I braised in it last night and did nothing to it other than my usual cleaning procedure. You'll see some splotchiness up on the sides, but that's not where the liquid was.

                                                                                                                                          @ TDQ: That's the splotchiness I was talking about above (or wherever the hell it was I was talking about it). The bottom of the wok and about 2 inches up the sides are as slick as a satin prom dress. Above that, the seasoning is rough and uneven. But that demarcation line gets higher and higher the more I use it. And yours will too.

                                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                          1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                            JoanN,

                                                                                                                                            For those of us with wok envy, how long did it take for you to develop that lovely patina and how often did you cook with it?

                                                                                                                                            Sally

                                                                                                                                            1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                              Oooh, very nice. Is the splotchyness just in coloration, or is it textural, too?

                                                                                                                                              ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                @ BigSal: I would say that it took about 9 months of very intermittent use to get the wok to look like that. I go through periods where I'll use the wok three maybe four times a week and then I won't use it at all for a month. All in all, not all that long; not all that much use.

                                                                                                                                                @ TDQ: You can feel a very definite difference in texture from the smooth part to the splotchy part. But it used to be much worse than it is. It really does just keep getting better and better.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                                  Very reassuring. I think I'm just going to keep cooking and stop worrying about my wok's splotches, especially if I keep getting good results.

                                                                                                                                                  ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                                    That sounds very promising. Thank you. And due to my success with Martin Yan's beef dish, I have been inspired to try the pork chop recipe you reported on next.

                                                                                                                                              2. re: dkennedy

                                                                                                                                                Yes, dkennedy, that's exactly my concern. I don't want to undo my seasoning. Somewhere Young says that she doesn't recommend you do any steaming or braising until your wok is really broken in. She also says that some people just have two woks: one for stir-frying, one for everything else.

                                                                                                                                                Personally, I think it's fantastic that a wok can be so versatile, and I think that's part of the point of BOAW, but I personally acquired a wok so I can stir-fry, because I can't really do that with any other kitchen equipment. I think I own other cookware that will do an adequate job of braising and steaming. Not that there aren't exceptions, of course.

                                                                                                                                                As far as do you need this book, a lot of the information about acquiring and caring for a wok is redundant. There are some pretty interesting essays in BOAW about her family's traditions, etc. but I'm not sure they are so amazing that you'd buy the book just for those. So, unless you really want access to both sets of recipes, it may not really be necessary to own both. I haven't tried enough of the recipes to be convinced yet, but maybe you can check it out of the library before you buy it?

                                                                                                                                                But, if you're supposed to be cooking from your wok several times a week (to keep your wok properly seasoned) and there are only about 100 recipes in each of these books, it really isn't going to take you very long to exhaust the recipes, so, if you really like her recipes, then maybe you really do want both books.

                                                                                                                                                ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                  TDQ - Thanks for your point of view. I have never heard that you need to use your wok 2-3 x week to keep it properly seasoned. Is that information from these two books? I would say I use mine 2-5 x per month at best. But my wok seems to be seasoned just fine. I am still undecided on whether to buy. I have 15 new cookbooks on my shelves these days, due to my bday, hannukah, and The Good Cook sales.

                                                                                                                                                  JoanN - my wok looks pretty much like yours. But, yes, I do notice a slight reduction in my black color after braising. I have a pretty huge kitchen but I do not have enough kitchen space for two woks, one exclusively dedicated to stir frying, so I will have to make due.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: dkennedy

                                                                                                                                                    Yeah, she says that somewhere in BOAW I think. I kind of paraphrased from memory; I probably should have said "optimally" seasoned rather than properly season. I'll see if I can find the specific reference later tonight. But, you know, just because daily or "several times a week" is optimal, if you're not having any issues with sticking 2-5x per month, then it's not an issue!

                                                                                                                                                    ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                      dkennedy, I forgot to look this up last night, but I found the reference in the "search this book" feature on Amazon. On page 45 of BOAW in the section "Recipes for Seasoning a Wok" she says, "Ideally, the wok should be used daily, or at least several times a week." But I can't tell (from the info I have in front of me at the moment) what that's in reference to, whether it's developing your patina or maintaining it.

                                                                                                                                                      ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                        Once it's patinated it can be stored without being used as long as it's kept very dry.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                          Oh, that's good to know. By the way, I think the reason my wok is looking mottled might be that I'm overscrubbing it. I'm using the textured side of one of these Jetz Scrubz sponges http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003..., which I didn't think was very harsh, but I realized last night when I thought I was scrubbing with it to remove stuck food, I was getting down the to silvery surface. :(.

                                                                                                                                                          I think I'm going to re-season it this weekend, and stop using the textured side of my sponge.

                                                                                                                                                          ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                            Don't scrub, you will take the coating off. It will look mottled for a while anyway. Mine (at least 28 yrs old) is completely black inside and out and was the first thing I put on my stove when we moved into the new place.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                              I'm a slow-learner. I promise to stop scrubbing my wok.

                                                                                                                                                              ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                Enjoy the process as well as the result!

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                  I'm getting more confident now. I was really afraid of the heat and the oil for my early attempts, but I feel pretty confident now. I don't even feel the need to turn the heat off anymore when I swirl in my oil. I'll be a pro by the end of the month!

                                                                                                                                                                  ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                            2. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                              We made this for dinner tonight in a saute pan with a lid in an effort to protect the little patina I have on my new wok. Another great dish. The chops were succulent and the sauce was great, especially with the rice (jasmine). Two for two with the Martin Yan recipes.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                                Martin Yan’s Mandarin Five-Flavored Boneless Pork Chops (page 188)

                                                                                                                                                We tried this tonight and made all of JoanN's adjustments to double garlic, ginger and Thai chilies. Also, I accidentally used low sodium soy sauce (which I didn"t notice until my husband mentioned he thought the dish could use a little more salt--I ran out of soy sauce last night and just grabbed a new bottle from my pantry, not noticing it was low-sodium), and I used a shallot instead of an onion.

                                                                                                                                                In order to speed tonight's dinner, I pounded the pork chops and prepared the marinade this morning and left them marinating in the fridge all day (instead of 30 mins per the recipe). I was worried that the pork chops would absorb too much of the marinade and there wouldn't be enough sauce, but that didn't appear to be a problem. AND I simmered them them in an 11.5'' stainless steel skillet instead of my wok because I didn't want to destroy the patina of my young wok. Served it over brown rice.

                                                                                                                                                We enjoyed this, but I don't think we were quite as taken with it as JoanN was, although, maybe I just made too many adaptations. I definitely need to boot the low-sodium soy sauce, which was an unintentional substitution.

                                                                                                                                                We agreed that we were both mostly craving the leftovers of the bacon and cabbage dish we made from SFTTSE last night and heated up and served alongside the pork chops and rice.

                                                                                                                                                We have two pork chops left. I'm guessing they'll make an appearance at lunch tomorrow. :). Sadly, the bacon and cabbage is gone.

                                                                                                                                                ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                  Am I the only one who feels personally responsible when a dish they've raved about gets only so-so reviews from someone else who tried it? Thanks, BIgSal, for keeping me from thinking I might be losing it.

                                                                                                                                                  And on to the cabbage with bacon. How can I resist now? Especially when I have bacon in the freezer.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                                    Oh, we still enjoyed it, and am thankful you pointed us to the recipe. Different cooks, different tastes, it's all okay. Plus, I made numerous departures from the recipes. Death by a thousand cuts, perhaps. But, still, it was a good dish!

                                                                                                                                                    ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                                      No, you are not alone. It is especially daunting when a long standing participant of COTM says they will try a recipe I posted. Gulp! Talk about pressure!

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: BigSal

                                                                                                                                                        I know. Now I'm nervous about the cabbage and bacon. All I can say is, do you really want a crave-worthy dish that includes 4 pieces of bacon (and bacon fat) in your fridge?

                                                                                                                                                        ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: BigSal

                                                                                                                                                          Me too. I think we all feel a little iffy when someone tries one we've raved about, and then (No, no ... please, no!) doesn't like it.

                                                                                                                                                    2. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                                      Martin Yan’s Mandarin Five-Flavored Boneless Pork Chops (page 188)

                                                                                                                                                      This was really delicious. Thanks to JoanN for pointing it out as I probably would have glazed right over it. I'm having a little harder time with BOW because of the type face and set up. Everything seems to blend together in my eyes.

                                                                                                                                                      Regardless, the pork was incredibly tender. And, browning and braising the chops really added color to the wok. Too bad I took a teeny tiny bit off with my beef and tomato dish (in the other thread).

                                                                                                                                                      One slight change - instead of a thai chile, I used a teaspoon of FD's salted chiles. I could have used a bit more. I also used 1t of 5 spice instead of the miniscule amount in the recipe. Also, I only had three chops that equaled a lb. I pounded them with a meat hammer. One of the chops was thicker and I could only get it to about an inch thick. No matter, it still stayed tender.

                                                                                                                                                      I left the chops resting in the sauce while I cooked up two more dishes. While I was cooking the third dish, I had C slice up the chops so it would be easier to eat. The meat and sauce were really tasty with white rice.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                                                                        Now a third glowing report. I'm beginning to worry I did something wrong. I liked this dish well enough to try again... maybe I'll discover a step or an ingredient I missed first time around?

                                                                                                                                                        ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                          I almost missed the part to add half a cup of water to the sauce after you marinate the pork chops. Also, I think upping the 5 spice, ginger, garlic and chiles also pop the flavor. I love FD's salted chiles so I try and use those if I don't have fresh hot chiles.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                                                                            I don't remember if I upped the 5 spice. I made a number of changes when I made the dish--maybe next time, I'll just follow the recipe very faithfully and see what happens.

                                                                                                                                                            ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                                                                          Thanks to smtucker and Caitlin, who emailed me the recipe, I made these chops last night. Not much to add apart from we loved them. I also used Dunlop's salted chillis, and used shao tsing for the marinade because I assumed (possibly wrongly) that was Yan's anglicisation of the recipe, given that sherry is often the substitution for Chinese cooking wine. As I don't have a lid for either of my woks, I used a shallow Le Creuset to braise the chops and it worked fine. A very nice dish indeed, and a good way to get Mr GG to eat pork chops as he's not overly fond of them.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                                                                                            I think this may be my favorite recipe from the two books. I've made it twice since I first posted about it above, once for company who asked when I would make it for them again. I never used to buy boneless pork chops. Didn't see the point. Now I find myself picking them up whenever they're on sale specifically so I'll have them on hand for this dish.

                                                                                                                                                        3. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                                          Some of you who read the cookware board may recall I bought a food-saver with my Christmas money, hoping it would save me time and money. I finally got around to using it today. It's going to be a hectic week, with lots of snowfall expected (read: lots of extra time will need to be spent shoveling) and several week-night commitments.

                                                                                                                                                          I matchsticked some flank steak and marinated it for one of the recipes in BOAW and tossed it in the freezer, with the hope of defrosting it and stir-frying it later in the week. I also went ahead and took another shot at this Martin Yan Pork dish, pounding the pork chops and getting the marinade ready again, with the expectation of tossing this in the freezer for later this week.

                                                                                                                                                          I realized my first problem from my first attempt at this dish (because I almost made the same mistake) is I erroneously used Sherry Wine Vinegar instead of Sherry Wine.

                                                                                                                                                          Very embarrassing. I have high hopes for the second time around. I'll let you know, of course, how it goes!

                                                                                                                                                          ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                            Very understandable mistake. Good thing you caught yourself from making it twice. Will be curious to hear if you like it any better.

                                                                                                                                                            I was eyeing an on-sale pork loin at Costco a few days ago with that recipe in mind, but ever since I got MY FoodSaver my freezer just seems to get more and more stuffed. I keep swearing, no more goes in until some comes out. That works almost as well as no more cookbooks until you cook at least one thing from each of the last three you bought. Oy vey.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                                              Lol. It's EXACTLY the same in my house.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                                                                                                I admit--I worry about doing the same thing--putting stuff in the freezer and then forgetting about it. I am trying to remind myself that this is my specific meal planning, not food hoarding!

                                                                                                                                                                ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                  I obsessively keep an inventory of what's in the freezer, posted on the door with a magnet and a pen for making updates. I mark off everything that goes into or comes out of the freezer. I include a brief description, the date, and the size if relevant (e.g., Beef, marinated flank steak, 8 oz, Jan 2011). I have separate categories for meats/seafood, vegetables, grains, already prepared foods, sweets, etc. Also, everything that goes in is carefully labeled, because I know just how quickly "I'm sure I'll remember what that is," morphs into "What in the world is this?!" Yeah, been there, done that.

                                                                                                                                                                  Yes, it's an effort to keep it up, but it's totally worth it to me!

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                                                                                                                                                                    I really aspire to that level of organization... I do okay, untll I find myself throwing food into the freezer, not because I planned to, but because plans change and I don't want whatever it is to spoil... And all of those CSA veggies that I get overwhelmed by...

                                                                                                                                                                    ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                      Dairy Queen, I have been reading all these threads about stuff being put in the freezer & your replies tend to mirror my habits to a tee. I cannot seem to organize my freezer section at all. Have you come up with any good ideas lately or are you still feeding the freezer?

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: cstout

                                                                                                                                                                        i really like the way I have organized my new(er) fridge/freezer - bottom one drawer with a top sliding compartment in it. The bottom "bin" - came with one divider - we bought two additional dividers - now I have a narrow one for my nuts etc, then the widest one for misc., then a chicken compartment, and then a meat compartment.

                                                                                                                                                                        The other stuff (littler things) get put in the top slide out drawer.

                                                                                                                                                                        The dividers really helped with the organization.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: cstout

                                                                                                                                                                          Hi cstout, I'm so sorry I haven't seen this post until now. In response to your question, with the new baby, I haven't been feeding my freezer lately, but I have been eating out of my freezer and it's been a lifesaver. What I was doing right around the start of the year that has turned out to be so helpful is freezing things in my foodsaver and being obsessive about making sure things freeze flat on a cookie sheet. Also, that they are properly labeled with the date, the contents, and even the page number of the recipe/name of cookbook where the cooking instructions are.

                                                                                                                                                                          Once things are completely frozen flat, I "file" them in the freezer like files in a drawer. If you can find a separate section corner of your freezer for that, it works pretty well and you can be as chaotic as you want to be in the rest of the freezer. It's very easy to flip through your files to see what you have (if you can't bring yourself to make a list as Karen does). Or you can buy one of those collapsible cubes and file your items in that in the freezer. http://www.amazon.com/Whitmor-14-Inch...

                                                                                                                                                                          With winter coming, I think I'm going to try to get someone to babysit for my little one one Saturday while I try to do a big batch of hearty freezer meals (enchiladas and lasagnes etc.) to be popped into the oven after work. I think I'm going to completely clear out the small freezer attached to my fridge for that, and for trays of baby food. I was reading this book on freezer meals and they were suggesting that, when preparing meals for the freezer, you line your pyrex/baking dish in foil, then layer your food in that. Once everything is frozen you can lift the foil "packet" out of the baking dish and you'll end up with a freezable "cube" of food you can later pop back into the baking dish when it's time to cook. I don't know how this will work, as I haven't tried it yet, but it sounds promising as an approach.

                                                                                                                                                                          That's where I am right now. :). Not perfect, but with a system that kind of works...

                                                                                                                                                                          ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                                                  JoanN:

                                                                                                                                                                  I don't know if the Costco in your area carries the same stuff as my local one does, but out here we have a wonderful cut of pork that's like boneless spareribs (very meaty spareribs). I use them for stir-fry and all kinds of other stuff. They have a bit more fat than the usual pork loin. I find pork loin gets overly dry quickly and is easy to overcook.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: oakjoan

                                                                                                                                                                    Yes, I've seen those and think I may even have bought them before. That's an excellent idea, to use them as a substitute for a cut such as shoulder in stir-fries where you're cutting the meat into bite-sized pieces. But the recipe I was referencing calls for whole, boneless, half-inch thick pork chops, and they don't cook for very long at all. It was that specific recipe I had in mind when I was thinking about buying the on-sale loin. You're certainly right, though, that those boneless spareribs would be a lot more practical to have on hand for most other pork stir-fries.

                                                                                                                                                                3. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                  OK, this Martin Yan Mandarian 5-Flavored Pork Chops is MUCH better if you use sherry wine, as the recipe calls for, instead of sherry wine vinegar as I did (by mistake) the first time around. I still didn't follow the recipe exactly. I pounded the pork chops and sealed them and their marinade in my foodsaver bags and stuck them in the freezer over the weekend. Then, one work morning this week, I pulled them out of the freezer before I left for work. Came home, diced up the celery and onions (I still used shallots--I still have too many leftover from my CSA) and then proceeded to cook the dish as per directions, except that I doubled the ginger, garlic, and Thai chile pepper.

                                                                                                                                                                  Much better than my first attempt. Perhaps because these marinated longer than the recipe calls for, I don't think I needed the extra ginger, garlic or chile. Next time, I think I'll just go with the proportions as written.

                                                                                                                                                                  I have another pair of marinating pork chops in the freezer waiting for another day! I'm looking forward to it.

                                                                                                                                                                  ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                    How do you like the Foodsaver? Which one did you get, again?

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                      I got this one because it takes up less space and I can keep it on my counter for easy access. http://www.foodsaver.com/Product.aspx... I have friends who have the more horizontal models and it takes too much room for them to have it out all the time. I doubt I'll use it very often if I have to "go get it" every time I need it.

                                                                                                                                                                      I just used it for the first time this past weekend, but so far I've found it easy to use and easy to clean. (There's a tray that is supposed to be dishwasher safe, but I haven't needed to "wash it" that thoroughly yet. I just rinsed it out and it seems fine.)

                                                                                                                                                                      I prepped (pounded+marinated) 2 recipes worth of Martin Yan's Mandarin 5-Flavor Pork Chops, sealed them, then froze them flat on a cookie sheet. I defrosted one set earlier this week as reported above and still have the other in the freezer. I also prepped one of Grace Young matchstick flank steak dish (can't remember off the top of my head which recipe it was) that I haven't defrosted yet, so, I don't know how that one has turned out.

                                                                                                                                                                      But, I like the idea of cutting and marinating the meats in advance and freezing them very flat for quick defrosting for weeknights.

                                                                                                                                                                      I also roasted two chickens this past weekend and froze (flat) some shredded chicken. Again, nice, flat profile for fast defrosting. I took one of those out of the freezer this morning and am planning to try a dish from One Big Table tonight.

                                                                                                                                                                      I had some some mini Leibovitz Guiness ginger cupcakes in the freezer that I re-froze using my foodsaver. Even though they were already frozen and I used the "gentle" setting (or whatever it's called), it still smooshed the heck out of my first few batches of cupcakes. Clearly, I need to improve on my technique.

                                                                                                                                                                      My only complaints so far about the foodsaver: the power cord is a little too short. I went through all of the wrap and bags that came with my foodsaver to freeze just what I described above. That included 2-3 failures (learning curve!) that I had to re-do, but I seem to go through the bags fast. And they don't seem to be super cheap.

                                                                                                                                                                      I just orders some more bags, so, we'll see how I feel. But, I'm willing to incur some additional cost in order to make my weeknights easier and in order to waste less food.

                                                                                                                                                                      Finally, I'm really surprised at how long it takes for something to really freeze flat. (That's not foodsaver's fault though.) I had to "pre-freeze" the Martin Yan pork chops before I could seal it with the foodsaver, otherwise, all of the marinade would have been vacuumed out. I put it in the deep freezer on a cookie sheet and it still wasn't 100% frozen solid, though it was close enough that I proceeded anyway.

                                                                                                                                                                      ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                        Hmm. Thanks a million for the detailed analysis. I'm still on the fence about this appliance. I wonder too how long it's advisable to freeze marinated things since I would think garlic, etc could still oxidize and take on an off-flavor?

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                          Good question. I don't think either of the two Grace Young dishes I tried had ginger or garlic in the marinades--it was mostly vinegar and soy sauce and rice wine, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                          I borrowed a copy of this book "Can I Freeze It?: How to Use the Most Versatile Appliance in Your Kitchen" by Susie Theodorou and in it she has some "basic stir-fry" marinades and (I think) includes an estimate of how long she thinks you can freeze things. I think most things are about a month. I'll have a look tonight and see what she says and if any of her marinades have garlic in them. (P.S. I haven't tried any of the recipes in this book: I just wanted to get ideas out of it.)

                                                                                                                                                                          I'm not really trying to "stock up" quite as much as I'm just trying to do a little advance prep on weekends to make the weeknights go smoother, so I wouldn't want to let those pre-prepped stir-fries languish in the freezer too long anyway.

                                                                                                                                                                          I'm resisting my urge to hoard. :).

                                                                                                                                                                          ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                            I've had my FoodSaver for about 6 months now and ended up getting rid of my toaster oven since I didn't have room for both and was using my FoodSaver more (much more!) often.

                                                                                                                                                                            Regarding garlic: I have a tendency to mince or chop more than I'll need for the recipe I'm making. I vacuum the leftovers and they're ready next time I need minced garlic. Perhaps garlic does deteriorate in some way in a marinade even when vacuum packed, but I haven't noticed any deterioration in the minced garlic in my freezer. Of course, it's not there all that long; rarely more than a couple of weeks.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                                                              Interesting, thanks. You have the horizontal model, I expect?

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                Hers is an upright one similar to mine. I only know this because she posted about it on Cookware, which is what prompted me to buy mine!

                                                                                                                                                                                ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                              bt--I looked in that book I mentioned "Can I Freeze It?" and she does have sliced garlic and grated ginger in some of her stir-fry marinades. She suggests that you only freeze for about a month for optimal freshness and flavor.

                                                                                                                                                                              ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                                I thought as much, I froze some chicken with garlic once for longer than that and yuck, nasty fishy smell, had to throw it out.

                                                                                                                                                                            3. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                              One thing I liked about foodsaver bags was their relative strength, and the fact that they could be washed and reused, minus the bit you've snipped off, though obviously if you've stored raw, marinated meat, you would likely not want to. Tip for non-wet, messy meats (as in, I want to freeze this chicken I just bought): put the meat in regular ziplock-type bag, close it most of the way, press out the air, and put that bag in the foodsaver bag. That way, you're keeping most of the surface and juices of the raw meat away from the bag, making it easier to wash and reuse in a sanitary manner.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                                                                                Great idea! Thank you! And, yes, those bags seem really sturdy.

                                                                                                                                                                                ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                                TDQ wrote "I had to "pre-freeze" the Martin Yan pork chops before I could seal it with the foodsaver, otherwise, all of the marinade would have been vacuumed out."

                                                                                                                                                                                Aha! I wondered how you were doing that. I've done the trick of blocking moisture with some rolled up paper towel, but that's only good for moist foods, not truly wet ones.

                                                                                                                                                                                And Caitlin, what a brilliant idea to double bag things! Hey, that would work for the marinated foods as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                I find myself not using my FoodSaver much because it feels like there's so much wasted plastic. (It still gripes me that they insist on such a deep seam allowance.) Maybe I should get it out more.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                                                                                                                                                                                  Yes, I love the idea of re-using! I'm definitely going to try it.

                                                                                                                                                                                  This is my first foodsaver, but according to the some of the reviews on Amazon, the "upright" foodsavers apparently require a bigger seam allowance than other models. I don't know if that's really true, but if you are concerned about that...

                                                                                                                                                                                  Tonight I'm going to try my matchstick beef stir fry recipe!

                                                                                                                                                                                  ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                                    I actually have one of the 'old-fashioned' horizontal models, and I think even *that* requires a big seam allowance.

                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                                                          I'm probably being stupid (and I am definitely hungover) but I can't find the recipe in that link and woud like to make those chops!

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                                                                                                            Works for me, so maybe you are being blocked by your IP address? If I can figure out your profile email address, I will send a screen shot.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: smtucker

                                                                                                                                                                              I can see the page, but it is just info about and reviews of the book. No recipe that I can see.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                                                                                                                Me too gg! Glad I'm not alone! I don't even see a place on the page where a recipe would be.

                                                                                                                                                                        3. I have a brand new--I haven't washed it yet--14 inch Joyce Chen, about $25.
                                                                                                                                                                          I understand I'll have to be patient. But are you all using the same oil to cook as to season?

                                                                                                                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                                                            I think I have that same one. From Amazon? I use Canola for both cooking and seasoning.

                                                                                                                                                                            ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                              Yes, that's probably the same --
                                                                                                                                                                              I want to use peanut oil for cooking some things -- just cuz it's nice -- so seasoning with a different oil won't matter?

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                                                                Oh gosh, I can't imagine it would matter, but I'm the one with the blotchy only-five-uses-under-my-belt wok, so maybe someone else should weigh in. She says new woks are thirsty for oil. I figure any oil that I'd be willing to cook with would be acceptable for seasoning it.

                                                                                                                                                                                I don't know if you saw my post in the thread where smtucker announced Grace Young as the winner for January, but my wok never reaches the point where a droplet or two of water evaporates in 1-2 seconds. It just gets hotter and hotter and still, a droplet of water hangs around for 6-8 seconds. (It just beads up and rolls around, which is kind of neat to watch, but not very helpful from cooking perspective.)

                                                                                                                                                                                Young says on page 6 of SFTTSE that happens with some woks. Since you seem to have the same wok as mine, head's up. I have a gas stove and I'd say my wok is ready to go in about 30 seconds. She says that if the water droplet test won't work for your wok, you can tell if your wok is heated simply by holding your hand over the well and if you feel heat coming from it the way you might from a radiator, your wok is ready.

                                                                                                                                                                                Your oil should sizzle, not smoke, when you swirl it in.

                                                                                                                                                                                ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                                                                  When I first got my new wok I tried to use Crisco on it for seasoning as often as possible. That lasted maybe a month or two. I also cook with peanut oil so it's usually sitting on the counter already and it's what I now wipe the wok with after it's dry while it's still hot. I think you'll be fine with the peanut oil. I'm really not sure I achieved anything special using the Crisco.

                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                                                                blue room I'm sorry to be answering your question so late. Whatever oil you use for cooking should be the same oil you use for seasoning. The important point is it must be an oil with a high smoking point such as peanut, canola, grapeseed, or your favorite vegetable oil. Never use a low-smoking point oil like extra virgin olive oil or sesame oil.

                                                                                                                                                                              3. Yes, I read the droplet post! I have the instructions that came with the pan, and all the online info of course, but I'm still waiting for the "...Sky's Edge" book to arrive.
                                                                                                                                                                                I'll have just as much fun and angst as the rest of you, I'm sure, when I start the process.
                                                                                                                                                                                Mine is a gas stove too, it has one "power burner", but it's regular Kenmore stove, nothing fancy.
                                                                                                                                                                                I am sure it can get quite hot enough to scare me!

                                                                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                                                                1. Tina Yao Lu’s Chicken with Spinach – p. 74

                                                                                                                                                                                  I took some liberties with this dish in the interest of timesaving. I used baby spinach instead of using the regular stuff and since it was very tender, I skipped the pre-cooking stage and simply added it in at the end once the broth has been incorporated into the stir-fry. I also used boxed chicken stock instead of homemade. That said, I don’t believe the final product suffered at all for my adaptations and it made for a satisfying dish that was quick and easy to pull together.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Cubed boneless, skinless chicken is marinated in a rice wine/soy/sugar/cornstarch mixture. Once the wok is heated, chopped garlic is given a quick stir around the oiled pan before the chicken mixture is added and, true to Young’s method, spread in a single layer around the wok. After a minute of undisturbed time, the chicken is then stir-fried until brown on all sides then transferred to a plate. A little more oil is added and then sliced, button mushrooms are cooked until softened. At which point the stock, white pepper and spinach are added and the stock is brought to a boil. A cornstarch slurry is added just prior to re-introducing the chicken to the pan. Once chicken has cooked through, you’re done!

                                                                                                                                                                                  The chicken was ridiculously tender and the mushrooms and spinach helped flavor the sauce. I was expecting the dish to be a bit bland based on the individual ingredients but somehow it comes together to make a very tasty dish that we’d be happy to have again.

                                                                                                                                                                                  I served this alongside Peppery Vegetarian Rice from SFTTSE and that review and photos are posted on the other COTM thread here:

                                                                                                                                                                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7567...

                                                                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                                                      Tina Yao Lu’s Chicken with Spinach, Pg. 74

                                                                                                                                                                                      The result of this recipe is the most tender chicken I think I've ever eaten. As Breadcrumbs says, it is "ridiculously tender". I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs, omitted the mushrooms, blanched the baby spinach first then dried and chopped it, used bourbon instead of rice wine, and peanut oil to fry with.

                                                                                                                                                                                      BC described the procedure very well so I'll just say that we liked very much and intend to make again ASAP, except I will use the button mushrooms and include a chili or two. On the whole, though it was a delicious use of homey ingredients that was very satisfying. All the liquids created a tasty sauce so make sure you have some rice to absorb every last drop.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                                        So glad you enjoyed this Gio and thanks for the reminder about this quick and tasty dish. I remember that COTM w fondness and should really pull both books off my shelf again.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Jean Yueh's Shanghai-Style Shrimp pg. 106

                                                                                                                                                                                      Well, my, my, isn't this easy and delicious! Minced garlic and scallions cut into 2 inch pieces are stir fried for 30 seconds. Then in go shrimp for 30 seconds, a swirl of sherry and then the soy-sauce/red wine vinegar mixture. Couple minutes later, sprinkle with sugar. And finally, drizzle with 1 tbsp sesame oil (optional). The recipe calls for 3 tablespoons of sugar or "to taste." Seemed like a lot of sugar, and we ended up using 2 tbsp. Since the sesame oil is optional, and again, 1 tbsp seemed like quite a lot, we started and ended with a drizzle over the top. The Chowpup did the stri-frying ( a first for her in the wok) while I dumped/swirled stuff in. This made it all very easy and smoothe, and we actually had a lot of fun cooking together.

                                                                                                                                                                                      We also made, to go along with the shrimp:

                                                                                                                                                                                      Sweet and Sour Cabbage: pg. 146

                                                                                                                                                                                      Okay, so I didn't use cabbage. There was half a head of cauliflower that needed to be used up, so I "blanched" that in the microwave and then proceeded with the recipe, which, veggie-wise also contains carrots, scallions and minced ginger. The recipe follows the 3 step method: swirl oil in wok. Add ginger for 10 seconds, then veggies for a couple minutes. Swirl in soy-sauce/balsamic vinegar/sugar/etc. mixture (thank you Chowpup for doing the scavenger hunt in the pantry and all that measuring). Garnish with the minced scallions.

                                                                                                                                                                                      I was a bit worried about doing a "sweet and sour" thing, but really it was the ginger that came through and there was no cloying sweetness to it.

                                                                                                                                                                                      We were too eager to eat to take a picture.....and we had a terrific meal!

                                                                                                                                                                                      9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: clamscasino

                                                                                                                                                                                        Oh I Loved reading that your Chowpup did so much measuring and cooking dinner. My children used to do that too. And, it Is fun. The family that cooks together stays together...

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                                          I think the Chowpup was very impressed with how quickly everything cooks, and how delicious the results were. And I could tell she was thinking "must take wok to college."

                                                                                                                                                                                          She's great at measuring, and understands the value of doing it properly. Now if I could only get her to chop onions....

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: clamscasino

                                                                                                                                                                                          I almost did the sweet and sour cabbage last night because I was on the wrong page (I was in the wrong book, in fact.): I was actually trying to make the cabbage and bacon from SFTTSE. I finally realized I was in the wrong book when I was doing my mise en place and just couldn't figure out when I was supposed to put the bacon in!

                                                                                                                                                                                          I understand the eagerness to eat and forgo the photography. I don't want to lose my wok hay, assuming I'm achieving any. Besides, I am just so frantic when stir-frying, the time goes so fast. And there's no place for a camera because my mise en place is everywhere.

                                                                                                                                                                                          In fact, what I've been doing is my full mise on place. Then, when it's time to do the stir-fry, I call my husband in to read the steps to me while I cook--he tracks the timing and tells me what my next step is.

                                                                                                                                                                                          I admire those of you who have the presence of mind for photography. I'm not there yet.

                                                                                                                                                                                          ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                                            The Chowpup actually thinks it's really dorky to photograph the food. It always comes with an eye-roll.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: clamscasino

                                                                                                                                                                                              It is, a little, but if it makes it enhances my COTM experience, I'm willing to be a dork.

                                                                                                                                                                                              ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: clamscasino

                                                                                                                                                                                                When I was visiting my grandsons in Guatemala last fall, I made few a BBQed pork roasts on the grill for a big family party. At one point I noticed the sixteen-year-old taking photos of the food with my camera. When I asked him about it, he said he was chronicling it all so I could post the photos on Chowhound. Ya just gotta start training them early!

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: clamscasino

                                                                                                                                                                                              Sweet and Sour Cabbage- We made this tonight with napa cabbage. I felt the flavors were nicely balanced and the ginger comes through too. I did not slice the carrots as thinly as I could have, but will be more diligent next time.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: clamscasino

                                                                                                                                                                                                Sweet and Sour Cabbage, Pg. 146

                                                                                                                                                                                                Made this last night to go with the Shanghai-style pork and bean sprouts. Not much more to say except it was one of the few times in my life I didn't tinker with the recipe and made it as written, although instead of using the scallions as a garnish I tossed them into the wok at the last minute just to take the "rawness" away. I used Napa cabbage but I think other vegetables can be used as well, just as Clams did. This is a recipe I'll be making again because it's a perfect side dish.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: clamscasino

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Sweet and Sour Cabbage, Pg. 146

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Made this tonight as a side for Chicken with Sichuan peppercorns. I used my vslicer on the smallest setting for the carrots, and used napa cabbage. I really loved this as a side dish. It was bright and flavorful, and was so easy to prep and cook.

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. Virginia Yee’s Beef Short Ribs with Scallions (page 187)

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I’m conflicted about this recipe. Will someone else please make it and tell me what to think.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  The recipe: toss 20 scallions in oil until “wilted and brown”. She says it should take 3 to 5 minutes. After 7 minutes mine were just beginning to wilt and just beginning to brown (they were big, fat, juicy scallions) but I was impatient and put them aside anyway. You then brown six beef short ribs (she says about 3 pounds; I must have had very small ones; my 6 were only about a pound and a half); add a mix of soy sauce, rice wine, and sugar; add back in the scallions; and cover and braise for 2 hours, uncovering and reducing the sauce for the last 10 minutes. Transfer the ribs and scallions to a platter and skim the fat from the sauce. I poured the sauce into a gravy separator and prayed. It would have been better, especially since the leftovers were so good (as with so many braises, perhaps even better) to have refrigerated the sauce long enough for the fat to congeal—even overnight. With the fat only partially removed this was a very rich dish.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Don’t get me wrong. It was really good. If I were grading on deliciousness alone, it would pass with flying colors. The meat was literally falling-off-the-bone tender. The sauce was far more flavorful than you would expect from just soy sauce, rice wine, and some sugar. And the scallions were so good I could almost imagine making them without making the short ribs. This would be a wonderful dish to come home to on a cold winter night.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Part of the problem, I guess, is that it didn’t meet my expectation of a dish to make today to eat tonight. It really would be better, I think, to make this a day ahead and that’s just not something I’m going to do for myself. On the other hand, this would be a perfect dish to make as part of a banquet for a large group for the same reason. And, good as it was, it’s probably only under those circumstances that I’d bother to make this again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                                                                                  15 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Well, I'm drooling.....those scallions look soooooo delicious!

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Would love to be the one to try it next, but Mr. Clam is allergic to beef. Wonder how it would work with country style pork ribs....

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: clamscasino

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I don't recall ever having braised country style pork ribs. No idea at all whether or not it might work--or, whether the flavors would be compatible. Guess there's only one way to find out for sure. We'll be rooting for you. ;-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                                                                                        There actually was a recipe in the Gourmet Today for an Asian inspired braised country pork rib recipe. It was good, but not stellar. Will definately try this one though.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Virginia Yee's Beef Short Ribs and scallions pg 187

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Finally made this last night with the country style pork ribs. Forgot to pick up scallions at the store, but where I live, 20 scallions would be rather cost-prohibitive anyway. So I used one large onion instead.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          It really does seem like magic how something with so few ingredients can come out so delicious. Guess that's just part of the beauty of braising.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          The only thing to note here was that after the braising time was up, I had a lot of liquid. So I removed the ribs to a platter while I boiled down the liquid to the "3/4" cup. It took about 15 minutes to do that, and I couldn't stop myself from nibbling on them. Tossed them back in the pan to glaze and re-heat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: clamscasino

                                                                                                                                                                                                            clamscasino: so glad you loved the recipe. It's so remarkable that with such few ingredients the final dish can have such depth of flavor.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: graceyoung

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Yes, it reinforces that adage: "cook like a peasant; eat like a gourmet." I was thinking as I made this: where's the garlic? where's the ginger? But in the end it was just perfect.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: clamscasino

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I bet it'd be super - in China it would be likely to be pork in a dish like this, anyway.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Might they do something like this with pork belly?

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Certainly, it's pretty much a basic red-cooked whatever recipe, except for the scallions which are unusual (but sound tasty).
                                                                                                                                                                                                              I make pork chops in somewhat the same style, with dark soy, brown sugar, black vinegar, and water - brown the chops, brown a lot of sliced onions, put the chops back in the pan with the onions on top, pour over the liquids, cook until chops done and sauce reduced basically to a glaze. Say 1/4 c dark soy to 2 tb brown sugar and 2 tb black vinegar, , a tb of liquor, enough water to bring it to 3/4 cup. Shanghai-style pork chops cribbed from Helen (Joyce's daughter) Chen's Home Cooking.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                It all sounds delicious to me, your (Helen's) pork chops and what JoanN cooked from BoaW.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                JoanN, I get what you're saying, though, that it's not something you'd do for yourself for everyday cooking. Suddenly I feel the need for a Chinese New Year party! HA!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  It really isn't an everyday dish, no. CNY party? A plan!

                                                                                                                                                                                                        3. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                                                                                          These look wonderful! ummmmm...

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Have made this recipe a few times. Takes time no doubt, and is messy...browning many thin sliced short ribs in the wok. I found that doubling the amount of scallions is needed. Once the ribs are browned in the wok and the scallions are wilted, I place everyhting into a baking dish, add the sauce, cover, place in the oven at 250 for about 3 hours....Needed the wok for another dish... The end product is a real knockout and well worth it. Probably the best beef short rib recipe I've tried.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                                                                                              JoanN: I'm glad you made this short rib recipe. Many times when I'm at the market I spy them and then see how much they are. I get really peeved and refuse to buy them. It's probably due to the fact that they, along with lots of other cuts that used to be cheap and frowned upon by many Americans, have become tres chic and expensive. When they're $6/lb and contain almost half bone, I start grumbling. It's the same with lamb shanks...now that they're much more expensive you're feeling you're paying for mostly bone.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Unfortunately, short ribs and lamb shank have always been great favorites of mine. I guess I'll have to bite the bullet and shell out the bucks...especially since a friend of mine gave me her mother's recipe (Philippines) for short ribs. The sauce is made with peanut butter.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: oakjoan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Oh, those Filipino short ribs already sound delicious!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Stir-Fried Garlic Lettuce (page 139)

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I don’t believe this. I thought I was making the lettuce stir-fry Gio reported on here http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7567... . I wasn’t. I ended up making another dish from another book. But if Gio hadn’t posted a positive review of that lettuce dish, I would never have made this one. And it would have been my loss.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              This is basically a cooked salad. It’s Romaine hearts quickly stir-fried with rice wine, soy sauce, salt, sugar, and smashed garlic and topped with sesame oil. It’s essentially the ingredients I use all summer long, but they’re cooked. During the winter, when I’m just not in the mood for yet another cold, raw, salad, this is going to be it. What a great find. Thanks, Gio.

                                                                                                                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                                                                                              6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Sounds delicious! Serendipity is a wonderful thing sometimes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Joan that sounds delicious and I bet the sesame oil is what really elevates it all, I can't wait to give this a try. Is that fish you served alongside?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Yes. Just a very simple pan-fried flounder. Something I do often and serve with a lettuce salad. This is really the perfect alternative for cold weather. I have a feeling this is going to be as regular in the chillier months as a salad is in the warmer ones.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I agree about the warm salads in winter. I've been making Ottolenghi's broccolini and sesame salad warm almost every week this winter. It's simple - salad dressing is tahini paste, a bit of water, crushed garlic, peanut oil, cilantro leaves and toasted sesame seeds. He also adds nigella seeds but I didn't have any. I also tossed in a bit of sesame oil.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      You cook some broccolini and string beans until crisp/tender and toss with dressing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Doesn't that look scrumptious! I'm so in the mood for fish this coming week and that's a perfect combo in my mind. Thank You, Joan.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Stir-Fried Garlic Lettuce (page 139)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Nothing really to add to JoanN's report. It was really nice eating a warm salad with the rest of my stir fried dishes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Virginia Yee’s Dry-Fried Sichuan String Beans p. 160

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      IStir-fry half of beans until they start to wrinkle. Transfer to plate and do the same with the remaining beans. I used long beans and ended up cutting them in half as they were a bit unwieldy in the wok. Next, stir-fry ginger and pork until no longer pink, add mixture of chicken broth, sugar and salt, then bring to boil, add beans and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. Finish by adding, Chinkiang, sesame oil and chopped scallion.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This was my first go at making dry-fried green beans. We really liked this. I made this in advance (per the instructions) and the two of us kept sneaking bites as we walked by the table. This version definitely has a sweet taste to it (maybe too much for some), but the Chinkiang helps to balance it. I thought adding garlic and hot chiles might be an interesting addition to this too. I also noticed Dunlop’s version (which I have not made yet) calls for preserved vegetables, but no sugar, broth, or Chinkiang. I’ll have to try it to compare. Either way, any dish that has my husband eating his vegetables is a keeper.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Stir-Fried Sugar Snap Peas with Water Chestnuts p. 135

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Stir-fry sliced ginger to fragrant (my mise was a little disorganized and I accidentally used minced ginger), add sugar snap peas and sliced water chestnuts for 1 minute. Add mixture of Shao Hsing, salt, sugar, white pepper and water and cook until tender. Finish with sesame oil.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This was an ok dish. Nothing terribly good or bad about it, but am so glad I tried it because I have never tried a fresh water chestnut before. It is a little tedious to peel them (definitely not something for the work week), but the crunch was delightful and I was surprised by how sweet they were. Definitely a different animal from the canned water chestnuts I am used to.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Ginger and Scallion Oysters Lichee Garden p. 160

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Boil shucked oysters 30 seconds and dry on a rack. Stir-fry thinly sliced and smashed ginger, add white part of scallions, then cook oysters (dusted in potato starch or cornstarch) a minute per side. Add rice wine and broth mixture and cook for 15 seconds, add green part of scallions and stir in mixture of oyster sauce, soy, sugar, sesame oil, potato starch and white pepper. Cook until sauce has thickened.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Simple to execute and a great way for me to get my pan-fried oyster fix with only 1 T of oil for the whole recipe. Flavors are good, a little on the sweet side. The sauce is nice with rice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      16 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: BigSal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Did you do all of these for one meal? Brava! How did you keep the dishes warm while you were preparing the others?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Also, where did you get the fresh water chestnuts, if I might ask?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Yes, all for one meal. I'm trying to make the most of the time I have over the weekend to wok. I am really starting to see the patina develop. The dry-fried beans seemed to be a really good one to help develop it. I'm still a long way from JoanN and GG's patina, but I see improvement already. Wiping instead of cleaning between dishes was also a very helpful tip that helps the food come out faster. I also used Gio's suggestion of keeping the dishes warm in the oven under tented foil.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I got the water chestnuts from Shuang Hur. I just happed to see them by the long beans. I do not know how to pick out water chestnuts, but I purchased 14 and only 1 was rotten. I got lucky. The rest of the peeled ones are in water awaiting the next recipe.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: BigSal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Excellent, thank you. Very impressive!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: BigSal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Having a d'oh moment here. Not sure I ever thought about water chestnuts existing outside of cans. I never cared for them; thought they were added to recipes only for the texture. Perhaps it's time to rethink water chestnuts? I'll keep an eye out--now that I know to look someplace other than in the canned goods aisle. Looking forward to hearing what you do with the rest.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                These may not change your opinion of water chestnuts. I have always liked them- even the bland, canned ones. Love the crunchy texture. These were crunchier and noticeably sweet, but a pain to peel. Now, what to make.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: BigSal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I always put them in my holiday stuffing. Yes, they are a big pain to peel...I think you need to pick out really firm ones. I have a ground chicken Asian patty recipe that calls for canned and I much prefer this with fresh when I can get them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  In one recipe, she specifically mentions "If fresh water chestnuts are not available, substitute jicama or an Asian pear....canned water chestnuts are mealy and starchy and are not a good substitute".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Rubee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ah-ha! Didn't see that. Feeling better about never having liked them, and really good to know about the jicama substitute. Never thought about it. Great idea. Thanks for pointing that out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      If you have to buy them canned, the Wei-Chuan brand of whole ones is about the best.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Managed to just avoid them so far. But now that I know they're available fresh, I'm eager to revisit them. Will keep your tip in mind, though. Thanks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Oh, jicama is a good idea! Why didn't I ever think of that?!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: BigSal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I tried the Sugar Snap Peas with Water Chestnuts tonight. It was a subtler dish than we usually have since I am one for bold flavors. There is no point to making this without the fresh water chestnuts. I love fresh water chestnuts and put them in salad. Yes they are a pain to peel but they have a sweet nutty flavor which explains the name.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                BTW when you buy fresh water chestnuts look for ones that are firm and have no soft spots. They should feel like a regular chestnut. I got mine at the C-Mart near South Station.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: BigSal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Virginia Yee’s Dry-Fried Sichuan String Beans p. 160

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I made these tonight to accompany the Ginghas Khan beef. I used haricot vert, but didn't have the full amount, so I prepped all the mise en place at 100%, made the beans using 1/3 and then started over with napa cabbage using up the remaining amounts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  We liked both versions, with a slight edge to the beans. This is one recipe that reducing the amount of oil didn't work. The pork stuck to the wok; my first "stickage."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Guess I have to make more popcorn to restore my patina.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: BigSal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Stir-Fried Sugar Snap Peas with (Water Chestnuts), Pg. 135

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    My substitution last night for this recipe was plain ole white button mushrooms instead of water chestnuts, and the dish was terrific, if I do say so myself. Big Sal describes the ingredients and procedure in her January post. At the finish I used toasted sesame oil rather than the plain version. That may have augmented the flavor of the entire dish. Anyway, it went very well with a tasty roasted lemon chicken thigh dish from The Divertimenti Cookbook by Camilla Schneideman and steamed jasmine rice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: BigSal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Virginia Yee's Dry-Fried Sichuan String Beans, p. 160

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I didn't exactly follow the recipe, so was undecided about whether to write it up, but there was an important component in this recipe that I did use, so I'll go ahead.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I fried the green beans in one batch in a larger amount of oil (enough to float them). I then removed the green beans from the wok and poured off the excess oil. From there I proceeded as written, but made a few substitutions. I omitted the chicken broth, but added some bourbon instead. I substituted sorghum molasses for the sugar. And I substituted minced prosciutto (in a small quantity) for the ground pork. I used the chinkiang vinegar and sesame oil, as directed, but omitted the scallions, as I was using a lot of them in another dish. I also added a pinch of chile flakes with the ginger and pork.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I've made a few different versions of dry-fried green beans, included Dunlop's, but this version is my favorite so far. It's the vinegar that does the trick for me, offsetting the sweetness of the dish. I served this with a vegetable-heavy fried rice dish. It was getting dark by the time I was ready to eat, so excuse the poor quality photo.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: MelMM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I had forgotten about this recipe! Lately I have been using Yan's version which steams the beans first so that the dish uses far less oil. I need to revisit this. Local green beans are in season, but only for a short time. Nights are getting cold.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Thanks for the jog.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Stir-Fried Pork and Chilies CCTI, page 90

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Served with Stir-Fried Bok Choy, page 138, and Stir-Fried Cilantro chili noodles with egg, page 266 SFtoSE. I have reported those dishes in their own threads.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Let me start with saying, this is FABULOUS! I started my day at the Asian market and purchased a ton of greenery, thai peppers, lotus root and a piece of pork butt cut into a flat slab.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      You start by hydrating the cloud ears [which might be wood ears, who knows?] and they are like those kiddie bath toys. They went from being tiny shriveled black blobs into huge ear-looking fungus. Cut the meat into 2"x1/4"x1/4" matchsticks and marinate in cornstach rice wine, soy sauce and salt. In a separate bowl, mix chicken stock, Chinkiang vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, rice wine, cornstarch and salt. [I omitted the sesame oil.]

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Thinly slice ginger and garlic, and have some chili bean sauce ready.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The cooking process begins as they all do. Heat the wok, swirl in the oil, and add the ginger/garlic and stir-fry for 10 seconds. Add the pork in a single layer, let sear for about 20 seconds, add the bean chili paste and stir fry for 1 minute. Add the babnoo shoots and cloud ears. Then stir in the cornstarch mixture. Bring to a boil and don't let the mixture stop moving. Cook until the pork is cooked and the sauce is thickened slightly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I have started using "Superior Dark Soy Sauce" instead of Kikkomen, and I like it much better. Far less salty, and less brash.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This will be made again, often and next time I will definately serve with rice instead of noodles. It was so satifisfying. I have no doubt that this would work equally well with chicken, not so sure about lamb or beef though.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      17 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: smtucker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I can't believe no one else has tried this dish. Made it a second time at the INSISTENCE of my primary eater. And loved it just as much this time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: smtucker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          It's on my list for next week smtucker, sounds wonderful. I need to get to my butcher for decent pork though as I refuse to buy the stuff at the supermarket here . . . . most fresh pork in our grocery stores is salted as a preservative. Can't wait to try it though.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: smtucker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I have everything ready to go for Friday. I can't wait!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: smtucker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Small caution. Husband LOVES the cloud ears, and ate a huge number of them last night with gusto. This morning I was told that he had extremely vivid dreams, sort of like the 60's, and his stomach was unsettled. I had warned him but since there was no effect the first time he ate them, he thought he was immune. HA!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: smtucker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Hmm.. looked up these fungi and read that the cloud ears are almost tasteless like tofu, but soak up surrounding flavors.. and then read that the wood ears lack the delicate flavor of cloud ears. No mention of the '60s !

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Oh, they absolutely have a flavor.... a flavor that I really love. Odd that your research said something different, isn't it?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: smtucker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This is what I saw:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  http://chinesefood.about.com/library/...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I'm crazy for mushrooms, but pretty limited in what I've tasted so far--
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  won't hesitate to try them and see for myself.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I find about.com to fairly mediocre.... In fact they contradict themselves in paragraph 4: "Although the two are often confused, wood ears are actually a distant relative of the cloud ear fungus. Larger and somewhat tougher, they lack the delicate taste of cloud ears."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    If they have "no flavor", how can they have the "delicate taste?"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: smtucker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I was fortunate to be given fresh, just picked cloud ears (and huge, gorgeous oyster mushrooms, yum yum +++) from the Taiwan National University agricultural research station, and they have a very mild taste but the most wonderful velvety surface texture. They really are a texture food rather than a taste food, their unique bite is valued in the cuisine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Interesting point, buttertart, about the importance in Chinese cuisine of "texture" foods vs. taste foods. I linked to a Ming Tsai interview that was on CNN earlier this week and he stressed the importance of texture foods, too. That was the first time that concept had sunk in for me about texture, even though we've done Chinese cuisine before on COTM.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I personally love all kinds of mushrooms for their earthy flavor, and also the way they sometimes act as sponges.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: smtucker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I have read they have an effect on blood pressure (lowering it).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Mu er (wood ear) and yun er (cloud ear) are the same thing, as far as I've ever known - variation in name only.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              3. re: smtucker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Stir Fried Pork and Chilies (pg. 90)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I liked this very much but C loved it. He couldn't stop eating it. What I liked best was the textural differences between the bamboo shoots, the pork and cloud mushrooms. Not much to add other then I upped the amount of chili bean paste to 2T (2 t more then called for).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: smtucker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I finally got around to making this and I am so glad I did! I really enjoyed the heat from the chili bean paste, the aroma of the sesame oil and the textural element the mushrooms brought to the dish (the bamboo shoots should have added more texture, but they were soft. I just purchased some frozen winter shoots, will see if they are any better). We ate this with jasmine rice which was great with the sauce. Thanks for pointing this one out smtucker.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: smtucker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Stir-Fried Pork and Chilies CCTI – p. 90

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    We enjoyed this dish. smtucker did a wonderful job explaining how this all comes together so I won’t repeat here.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    As always I omitted the salt because the recipe calls for soy sauce. If I were to make this dish again, I’d likely reduce the soy as we still found the saltiness of this to be a bit pervasive. I use Kikkoman soy and, a my chicken stock was salt-free. I also want to check the ingredients on the Lee Kum Kee Chili Bean Sauce as I wonder if that may be the culprit as I did increase the quantity of this ingredient as we prefer our dishes quite spicy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This is the first dish I’ve made from the COTM’s that included the cloud ear mushrooms and we especially enjoyed the texture they added to this dish. They worked very well w the bamboo shoots.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    When I first stirred the broth mixture into the wok I worried this dish was going to be a bit soupy but the sauce quickly thickens and clings nicely to the pork and vegetables.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    We served this with Henry Hugh’s Lotus Root w Sugar Snaps which I’ll review below and, the Chinese Indian Chicken Manchurian from p. 142 of SFSE.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Henry Hugh’s Lotus Root w Sugar Snaps – p. 139

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A nice blend of crispy, fresh, crunchy veggies dressed in a very mild sauce. The subtle sweetness that the Lotus Root adds to this dish is what really elevates it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I was very excited to find beautiful lotus roots carefully packed in straw on my visit to Chinatown. I’ve enjoyed them when dining in restaurants but have never worked w them myself.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The Chinatown grocer was very helpful in instructing me to select an unblemished root with a creamy-pink hue. She also was quick to instruct me not to break root segments apart (for those not familiar, the lotus root looks a bit like a string of sausages!) Fortunately there was a good size piece already broken away from its mates and I was good to go! As instructed, I stored the root in the fridge until I needed it. To prepare, you simply treat it as you would a potato. Give it a good clean, trim, peel and slice. In this case Young instructs you to halve the root lengthways then cut into ¼” half-moon shaped slices. I elected to slice mine much thinner since I intended to skip the “blanching” step Young suggests in the book . . . more about that later.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    To start, dry wood ear mushrooms are soaked for 30 minutes to soften then they’re drained. In my case, I actually squeezed them until they were fairly dry as I’ve worked w the in the past and much prefer them if they are not carrying too much water. This way they have capacity to absorb some of the sauce, and its flavours. I actually did this step in the morning to save time at night then I wrapped the mushrooms in a damp paper towel and placed that in a ziplock in the fridge. Tonight I just had to shred them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This dish also calls for thinly sliced garlic, scallions, carrots, celery and, of course, Sugar Snap Peas. Young suggests that you begin your cooking process by blanching these vegetables in advance in a pan of boiling water. Well, as I’ve mentioned in the WFD thread, my Bosch dishwasher is on the fritz and I’m trying to avoid dirtying dishes at all costs so, I cut my veggies thinner and decided just to stir-fry them. I left the peas whole as we like them crunchy anyway.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A sauce is made by combining chicken broth, rice wine, oyster sauce, salt (which I omitted) and pepper.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Now you’re ready to go and, this dish comes together very quickly. Oil is heated and swirled then garlic and scallions are stir-fried for 5 seconds before adding your veggies. Once they’re almost done to your taste, the sauce is swirled in to heat through (approx 1 minute).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This dish is very basic but we appreciated its freshness and subtle flavours, a perfect accompaniment to two our two other spicy dishes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Here’s a link to the Chinese Indian Chicken Manchurian from p. 142 of SFSE if you’d like to see my thoughts on that and photos:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7567...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Oh, I forgot something! Why was I told not to break the lotus roots apart? Evidently it's bad luck. Either that or she was just a really smart grocer who'd devised a great way to sell more lotus roots!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I have been using "Premium Dark Soy Sauce" instead of the Kikkoman since about the third dish this month. I found the Kikkoman to be too salty, and brash. And yet, I have used this brand for years happily. Learning how to use all these bottles of elixirs in ways that please me has been quite the journey. Four years ago, I would not have been able to detect the differences between different soys or vinegars as clearly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I find this all very exciting!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: smtucker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          smtucker: Are you using the Kikkoman Organic soy sauce? I think the flavor is really clean and fresh and there are no additives. This product was not available when Breath was written but in the last 2 years I discovered it and have been loving it. It's a little hard to find sometimes. Whole Foods has it and many of the supermarkets in NYC's Chinatown carry it. I don't know where you are based.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Stir-Fried Bok Choy, page 138

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Served with Stir-Fried Pork and Chilies CCTI, page 90 and Stir-Fried Cilantro chili noodles with egg, page 266 SFtoSE. I have reported those dishes in their own threads.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This was a basic stir fry; the type of recipe you pull out because other items on the menu are complicated and you just want some green on the table.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Spicy Garlic Eggplant – p. 144

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Originally I hadn’t intended to make this dish but when I saw Chinese eggplant during my trip to the market today, I couldn’t resist them and once home, I found this recipe. Hands down this is our new favorite way to prepare eggplant. Even Mr bc, who isn’t a fan of eggplant, said he really like this dish . . . in fact, he had no idea it was eggplant.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Eggplant is cut into matchsticks and steamed. A sauce of soy, vinegar, rice wine, sugar, salt (which I didn’t use) and chili flakes is stirred together and set aside. Oil is heated then garlic and ginger hit the pan and are stirred ‘til fragrant, at which time the steamed eggplant is added. It got a little sear in my ultra-hot pan and this was one of the things we really loved about it. 20 seconds later, the sauce is tossed in, then scallions and a drizzle of yummy sesame oil and you’re done. Wow. If you like eggplant . . . and even if you don’t, please give this a try, it really is yummy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Served this w Minced Pork in Lettuce Cups and Chinese American Shrimp w Lobster Sauce from SFttSE.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Here’s the link to my photos and reviews of those recipes if you’re interested:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7567...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Oh, those photos are very persuasive!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Oh so good to hear. I have this recipe marked for the eggplant that I bought today.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I'm SURE this would be even better if I had a wok, but even without one it was really good. I like any recipe that calls for 1/4 cup of ginger and 1/4 cup of garlic!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Spicy Garlic Eggplant, page 144

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                This was an easy to make dish, and even Mr. I Don't Like Eggplant ate two helpings. [He puts this right up there with the Ottolenghi eggplant recipes which he also eats with pleasure.] Absolutely added to the favorites list.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Loved having the spicy component as ginger. Makes pairing this with other dishes easy. Served with Yan's Spicy Green Beans and Dunlop's Land of Plenty Sweet and Sour Spare Ribs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: smtucker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Two years later and this dish has not lost its appeal. My kid's CSA that she doesn't belong to send home 4 Japanese eggplants. The skins were so tender after the steaming step. So darn delicious. Paired with Stir-Fry Beef with Broccoli from Stir Frying to the Sky's Edge and some Jasmine Rice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Thanks Gio for bumping this thread. Or I would never have found this review and made this eggplant. It honestly is the best eggplant dish I have ever had.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                3. Liang Nian Xiu’s Snow Peas, Tomatoes, and Chilies – p. 132

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I really liked the sound of this recipe when I first read through the ingredients and I was determined to make it despite the fact that Mr bc inadvertently picked up Sugar Snap Peas and totally forgot the pork belly. No worries, I had a little ground pork in the freezer so we plodded along regardless!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This is really, really quick and easy. The de-stringing of the peas is definitely the most time consuming step! Oil is added to a hot wok then pork, ginger, garlic, Thai bird chilies (doubled in our case) and salt (omitted) are stir-fried for 1 minute before the Snow Peas (or, in our case, SS Peas) are added and tossed around for a minute as well. Then some chopped tomato, sugar and salt are added and stir-fried together until your peas are tender. Ta-da, dinner is served!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I loved this, the SS peas were hot and crunchy and my Thai chilies added the perfect heat. The ground pork ended up working really well w the sugar and tomatoes. We really enjoyed this one and will definitely have it again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I served this w Sichuan Pork w Peppers and Peanuts from SFttSE, my photos are posted on that COTM thread here:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7567...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. So I decided to get over my quasi-irrational disregard for American influenced Chinese food and see if there weren't at least a few dishes in BOTW that appealed. And indeed a close reading coughed up about a dozen dishes from this book that look interesting, two of which we had for dinner last night.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ray Lee's Chicken and Choy Sum (pg. 76)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Cooked per the instructions excpet that I used thigh meat rather than breast.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Chicken pieces marinated in a soy egg white and shao xing marinade, then stir fried and sauced with a baby bok choy (choy sum) oyster sauce.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    While Mr. QN thought this dish was just fine, I wasn't too taken with it. For one thing I found the choy sum a bit over cooked, a 30 second blanch, Young directs a full minute, would have been plenty. Also I found a full 1 minute undisturbed coooking of the chicken after adding it to the wok too long, 20-30 seconds would have been more than enough. Although white meat chicken is generally a dirty word in our house, I think that in some ways the stiff drier texture of breast meat might actually suit the dish better. Anyway, it was OK, but not a dish I'd make again soon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Florence Lin's Tofu with Cilantro Relish (page 161)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Cooked per the directions, except I used sesame oil in the relish (not canola) and pan fried the doufu in peanut oil in a cast iron skillet.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Firm doufu pan fried in a little oil, then sauced in the pan with a soy ginger combination, plated and topped with a simple cilantro relish.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This was a real winner. It is a dish that really encompasses the best in home-style Chinese food, simple ingredients that offer contrasting flavors, textures and color. It was easy to prepare and the directions were flawless. I usually press, rather than salt, doufu before frying, but I followed the salting directions and was pleasantly surpried by the results, the doufu retained a creamy texture and results were not over salted even with the soy based suace. This one is a keeper, and will definitely go into the repetoire/standard rotation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    15 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: qianning

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Glad you decided to jump in, and how terrific that you found a winner!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: qianning

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Could I be a moocher and ask amounts of ingredients in the doufu dish? That does sound good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Excellent, thanks very much. Wish Google Books worked with more books, tried to find a Malgieri recipe from "Chocolate" and was thwarted.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: qianning

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I liked the tofu with cilantro very much also. It was too salty for my tastes (though perhaps ok considered as a relish), so next time I would salt the tofu less. Really nice, though.