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Feb 18, 2012 11:23 AM

Chinese Take Out Dishes - Want to Make Them at Home

OK, I know there are many fine books out there covering all aspects of Asian Cooking, but I am looking for some good 'Ole Chinese American (or is it American Chinese?) recipes that don't call for a bunch of exotic spices & sauces I won't be able to find unless I order online.

Authentic is not a priority here, just some dishes that will satisfy my taste for the stuff that comes in those little white boxes.

I know I am settling for "second best" by this request, please forgive me. I do have a carbon steel wok & would like to get the scoop on how to make some decent rice. (I told you I need the basics). My rice cooker took a trip to the thrift store a while back when I was in a minimalist mood.

Any suggestions will be appreciated...I just dabbed my finger on the bottle of soy sauce & it tasted so good...hope I can make something to go with it......

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  1. 1. Pick a protein: 3/4 lb. flank steak, trimmed and thinly sliced against the grain; 3/4 lb. slliced pork tenerloin, thinly sliced; 3/4 lb. med or lg shrimp, peeled and deveined; 3/4 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast or thighs, thinly sliced against grain; 12-oz pkg. extra-firm silken tofu, cubed.

    2. Marinate. whisk 1 egg white with 1 T. Chinese rice wine or dry sherry and 1 T. cornstarch. Toss w/ your protein; cover and refrigerate one hour.

    3. Prep 3 c. veg in any combination: sliced carrots, celery, bell peppers, 1-inch scallion pieces, onions or shallots, quartered mushroom caps, bok choy or cabbage, sliced leeks, snow peas, asparagus, plum or cherry tomatoes (quartered for the plus, halved for the cherry) baby spinach, blanched broccoli or cauliflower, thawed peas or edamame. Have them cut to size for evenness in cooking.

    4. Choose a sauce:

    Clear sauce: mix 3/4 c. chicken broth, 1 T. cornstarch, 2 T. rice wine or dry sherry, 1/2 t. sesame oil, 1/2 t. salt and 1/2 t. sugar

    Sweet/Sour: mix 3/4 c. chicken broth, 2 t. cornstarch, 1/4 c. ketchup, 2 t. soy, 3 t. rice vinegar, 1/4 c. sugar, 1/2 t. salt, 1 t. minced ginger, 1 t. sesame oil.

    Brown Sauce: 1/2 c. chicken or beef broth, 1 T. cornstarch, 1 T. soy, 1 T. hoisin, 1 T. dry sherry

    Oyster Sauce: 3/4 c. chicken broth or clam juice, 1 T. cornstarch, 1 T. dry sherry or rice wine (even Scotch or sake will do..) 1 T. mirin, 3 T. oyster sauce, 2 t. sesame oil

    Spicy Sauce: 3/4 chicken broth, 1 T. cornstarch, 2 T. each soy, rice vinegar and whatever booze, 1/2 t. sesame oil, 1 T. sugar and 1 T. red chili oil, 2 t. hottest mustard you can find.

    Prepare your wok over the highest flame possible. Drain marinade from protein. Heat wok over medium high heat, and add roughly 4 T. peanut or veg. oil when it's hot but not smoking. Add your protein and begin moving rapidly in pan until it is almost opaque, or turning pink in the case of the seafood; roughly one minute as the protein is thinly-sliced. Remove to plate.Discard oil; wipe out pan. Heat pan over high heat now, 1-2 minutes. Add 2 T. oil and then 2 cloves minced garlic (4 if making the spicy sauce), 1-2 T. minced ginger, 2 minced scallions and a pinch each of salt and sugar. Stir rapidly for about 30 seconds. Add the veg, starting with whatever takes the longest to cook, and stir rapidly, moving veg. in pan and trying not to crowd it. Add protein and sauce of choice and stir until sauce is thickened. Thin with chicken broth if too thick, and correct for salt, soy, or any flavor you particularly like. Garnish with sliced scallions, peanuts, sesame seeds, sliced jalapenos, cilantro, basil, mung beans.........whatever you like.

    Some combos to consider: The classic broccoli or asparagus beef - brown sauce; tomato ginger beef- spicy sauce; chicken and bok choy with celery and almonds - clear sauce; prawns with scallions, leeks, and sliced onion-oyster sauce.........the variations are infinite. Just accords to your taste and you'll learn to play around with this once your technique is down. Keep all your ingredients close to the wok, because you'll be playing fast once you get started. Oh, and something very old-fashioned that I love now and again is basic Eggs Foo Yong: Eggs whipped with baby shrimp, mung beans, thinly-sliced celery and just a touch of flour or cornstarch, formed into patties and fried, basting the top with the oil while the bottom cooks (though I find one large patty actually easier to manage) served with the brown sauce or the spicy sauce with some more baby shrimp and maybe a handful of peas or edamame thrown in.

    Clearly this is boilerplate technique, but the beauty is in the mix-and-match, and it's tasty and you can play with combos and flavors.

    Now hie you downtown and buy a rice-cooker and never give it away again. It's a best-bet. And if you buy best-quality rice, you'll enjoy it much more. Experiment with Jasmine and Basmati rice, and never forget the wonders of the panfried noodle. yum.

    98 Replies
    1. re: mamachef

      How in the world did you come up with this information??? Just what I was hoping for...are you folks born with this knowledge or what??? This is enough for me to get started on a meal right now. Bless you. Your reply has just been copied into my very special hidey hole of wonderful food ideas. Seriously, how do you know these things? Thank you so much.

      1. re: mamachef

        mamachef, you come through again :) This is info I know, yet you put it together in such an organized format, and ready for use.

        1. re: mamachef

          This is just outstanding. "Thank you" doesn't begin to cover it. I'm in SF (and I believe you're in the East Bay); maybe I could drop a bottle of oyster sauce off at your altar?

          1. re: monfrancisco

            Hey, to all of you: thanks for the very kind words!! And I am happy as a wok-fried clam to have been able to help. It's just a system, you know? Once you have your basics down, like I said, it's all totally mix and match. It really is in the cutting, good-quality products, and a little practice.
            Wanted to make a couple of corrections: in the wok frying instructions, I started by saying to prep the wok over the highest flame, and in the next line I specified med.-high. Dah. Go with the medium-high heat. The oil will be ready when it shimmers and appears to move, but don't let it smoke. #2: for the Foo Yong, I meant mung bean sprouts, not the beans themself. :) and when you're ready to learn gyoza (the venerable potsticker, and eggroll and wonton soup or some other soups, because believe it or not they are EASY to do........let me know and we'll figure it out. :)

            1. re: mamachef

              Love the recipe, and sent it to my 2 starving adult children (not really, but they are students on a budget). THANKS!

              About those other recipes....gyoza and the soups: have you printed them out anywhere? Would love to read some of your tricks and tips!

              1. re: Transplant_DK

                Transplant, I'm sorry it took me so long to respond, but here's the gyoza recipe. It's involved, but not difficult. The most difficult part is actually shaping the dumplings, but you'll get the hang of it. I'm sure you know they're a half-moon with a crimped edge, so practice a little, and have at it!!
                Shrimp and Pork Gyoza
                Dipping Sauce: 1/3 c. soy sauce
                2 T. Seasoned rice vinegar
                2 T. Water
                Blend; set aside
                For filling:
                1/2 lb. peeled deveined raw shrimp, coarsely chopped
                1/4 lb. ground fatty pork (I use shoulder)
                4 minced water chestnuts
                3/4 c. chopped scallions
                1 1/2 T. soy sauce
                2 t. minced fresh ginger
                1 t. Asian sesame oil
                24 round dumpling or Gyoza wrappers
                1 T. peanut oil
                1/3 c. warm water
                Make filling: combine shrimp, pork, water chestnuts, scallions, soy, ginger, and oil in a bowl. Knead until just combined and then chill 10 minutes.
                Keep wrappers stacked and covered w/ plastic wrap. Place a good T. filling in center, then brush or dab halfway around edge with water and fold in half, sealing edges and leaving a TINY opening at each end of semicircle. Stand dumplings up and crimp edges, kind of like you'd crimp a piecrust. Lay down on one side and press lightly so one side will be flat, for browning purposes.
                Heat oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium high heat until hot but not smoking, then remove from heat and arrange dumplings in a circular pattern, seam side up, in oil. (They should be touching). Cook over med. heat until the oil is sizzling, then carefully pour warm water over them and cook, covered, until dumplings are browned. This will take about 8-10 minutes. Add 1-2 T. warm water if they seem dry.
                Remove lid and cook. Shake skillet carefully; this will loosen them, until steam dissipates, about 2 minutes. Invert a large plate over skillet; hold together and invert plate and skillet; remove skillet and serve potstickers warm with sauce. Enjoy.

              2. re: mamachef

                Mama Chef, you are a gift.

                I miss egg foo young so and with your instructions it looks doable.

                And then I always wondered about the sauce - and you have that covered too!

                This week is nutty with work, but next week - I hope it's me and some mung bean sprouts, making magic!

              1. re: IndyGirl

                I agree!! This is awesome!!

                I also bought myself a tube of lemongrass from the grocery store & add it to my stir fries and it gives a nice flavor. And I also like to add in cole slaw mix to my stir fries...good stuff!

                1. re: jenscats5

                  Great idea, jenscat5 - also the broccoli slaw. And a great timesaver to remember if you're pressed, is to hit the salad bar or pre-cut vegetables. You will pay dearly for the convenience, though. :)

                  1. re: mamachef

                    Mamachef - I also love the broccoli slaw!!!!

                    And I like to make my stir fries as colorful as possible - I purposely pick red or orange peppers so I don't have too much green stuff.....just looks better IMO...

                    1. re: jenscats5

                      Well you know the saying: we eat first with our eyes. I like mixing it up too, all the way from purple peppers to bright orange. And the broccoli slaw is AWESOME given a fast turn in the wok and then dressed with a sweet vinegar/oil blend and some raisins, served smokin' hot, maybe with some sausages and buttered noodles.

                      1. re: mamachef

                        Oooooh the broccoli slaw with sausages & noodles sounds Delish! I will have to try that for sure...

                        PS - and I like you already!! 97 cats? My type of person! :)

                        1. re: jenscats5

                          jenscats5,,,,do you really think Mamachef has 97 cats? I did not want to challenge her on that statement, maybe she will explain this to us.

                          As for the broccoli slaw....please somebody make some quick...I don't have a thing in the house that resembles broccoli right this minute. Please make it & tell me how delicious it is...maybe I can fill up on reading about it.

                          1. re: cstout

                            Well, no not 97 cats....maybe 9.7 tho!! (One is little!)

                            I just sauteed some coleslaw mix in advance of stir fry for tomorrow night's dinner....I'll use broccoli florets, pepper, spinach & carrots in addition....

                            1. re: jenscats5

                              cstout and jenscat5: I was being silly and self-deprecating because you said I was a wonderful person and I was a little embarrassed. I have 3 cats: Madelaine, Natascha, and Clementine Paddleford. Not to worry. I was teasing.

                    1. re: jenscats5

                      lemon grass...does it get soft when cooked or does it stay firm? I have never used it so don't know how it reacts. Thank you.

                      1. re: cstout

                        I buy a stalk (is that what it is called?), bruise it with the dull side of my knife, and throw it in my stir fry. it infuses its flavor, and then I remove it. I have no idea if this is the right way to use it, though

                        1. re: cstout

                          not jenscat5, but it's minced very, very finely and softens upon cooking. It's great in many cuisines but is especially relevant to Vietnamese, Thai, and Burmese. jenscat5 was talking about a lemongrass paste in a tube, like toothpaste is sold; I've found these products to be fresh-tasting and easy to incorporate. Good stores are carrying them in everything from wasabi to sesame paste to tomato paste, plus that lemongrass. You might really like to try mixing equal parts chicken stock and coconut milk, well-stirred, say 2:2, along with a cup of cooked chicken chunks and another cup of Enoki or straw mushrooms. Hit that with a good heaping T. minced ginger (or ginger paste from a tube!) and another 2 t. of the lemongrass paste, good dash salt and let it all simmer along until it behaves by thickening slightly. It adds a bright and citrusy acid note to foods without the sharpness of actual lemon (which I couldn't live without.) I think you'd love this and it's the easiest thing and so nourishing and delicious anytime of year. Garnish with some cilantro, and a dash of hot sauce, but easy on that; it's a delicate soup.

                          1. re: mamachef

                            Another great recipe.....from a great lady!!

                            1. re: cstout

                              Oh, no. I have a horrible temper and 97 cats. I can barely tie my own shoes somedays. :) (thanks - did you make something Chinese-y tonight? Let me know when you do, how it turns out.)

                              1. re: mamachef

                                Chinese-y, yes indeedy!! Selected from menu options as follows-
                                Chicken thighs
                                snow peas, carrots, sliced red pepper strips
                                oyster sauce
                                So simple to do with your going to the store & stock up on all the options I can so I can do "take out" more often. Did not have much to work with this evening, but a trip to the grocery & Wally World for a new rice cooker will set me up for quite some time.

                                Your concept is great....maybe you could take off on other foods too, like spaghetti, sauce combinations & meat/veggies to add to the spaghetti.

                                How about enchiladas? List the types of enchiladas, the various sauces, the cheese combinations.

                                "Pick & Choose" options is so much fun...sorta like driving up to a fast food place..."I want this & this & this".

                                1. re: cstout

                                  That is EXACTLY where I was thinking about taking it, cstout. I mean, if I can teach someone to make a pizza dough, the sky's the limit for their pizza options, and on and on and on: basics on pasta and sauce variants and so on.

                                  Maybe you can tell I'm giving it some serious thought based on our conversation; it kinda switched on a lightbulb, 'cause I've given cooking classes and that's basically how I taught: the basic precepts, and building on it.

                                  So thanks!! One more sleepness night!! (totally kidding.) Dinner sounds like it worked out just perfectly. So glad to hear it!!!! Many more "takeout" nights in your future!!

                                  1. re: mamachef

                                    Mamchef, this whole concept is my kind of thing; I have done a research project on this type of concept; we called it 'cooking without recipes', but esentially, what you are doing is help reduce certain types of cooking, and/or styles of food prep to formulas... not in a bad way, but helping people to realize the similarities between recipes, rather than the differences. Similar techniques they employ, how they could be used on other ingredients to expand a repertoire, etc.

                                    Bravo! I think this is where cooking instruction should really go - and sharing info on making great food to expand peoples skills exponentially.

                                    I am all for my 'wall of cookbooks', but there is so much to be said for giving the freedom from a recipe to someone, or at least, opening their mind that they can move away from something wrote, to something creative, personal, and of the moment.

                                    This also allows people to not read a recipe and shop for it's ingredients, but purchase what is on sale/seasonal at the store, THEN come home and figure out what to make with it. It unlocks the door that is open to a seasoned (forgive the pun) cook much sooner than plodding through recipes, per say.


                                    1. re: gingershelley

                                      gingershelley, so very well put. I truly think recipes & cooking as we know them today are fast becoming a thing of the past...we are tired of being structured with fixed recipes & methods. New ideas in food preparation & different flavor combinations will be popping up everywhere. Call it free-form cooking, or whatever...we will be building our own recipes based on general guidelines presented in cookbooks. As you mentioned, even our way of shopping will change....a bright new future out there in the cooking world.

                                      I don't know about baking though...seems like there are certain ingredients that are needed to accomplish a good cake or whatever...but there again...I bet once the basics are established....we are free to build the rest of the cake ourselves.
                                      What will happen is instead of 5 different recipes for 5 cakes, we shall see one recipe with the set rules of needed ingredients & then multi combinations of flavors. A really neat way for the young people of today to learn cooking skills.

                                      Exciting times ahead for all foodies.

                                      1. re: cstout

                                        cstout, there is a good book with some of these basic rules that came out nearly two years ago; Ratio's by icheal Rhulman, and 'the Flavor Bible' also speaks to learning combining flavors outside of the context of recipes.

                                        Not sure tho, if this is going to take hold - for the average 'consumer' and consumer oriented company that sells products - this concept of Cooking Without REcipes is heresy; it does not sell cookbooks, lessens the amount of food people buy (think of all the ingredient's people puchase for a specific recipe, only to have most of a jar of some such sitting there that they then don't know what to do with, new recipe - repeat!).

                                        I teach cooking classes, and getting this concept across successfully has required a series of classes, so people have to be kind of committed to the idea for it to take hold. I got there by thinking about all the proffessional and good home cooks I know who just open the door of the fridge, and figure out what to make.... Translating this to a more novice - or sometimes just timid, recipe-bound person was the goal.
                                        Still trying to make it happen in a wider way...

                                        1. re: gingershelley

                                          gingershelley, well with good cooks like you & others who are willing to help others break away from the old standards, it just may happen. All those "repeat" recipes are just fillers in a book & we bite on it by purchasing the whole cookbook just to get a handful of recipes that are "new". Once we had some really good "Master Recipes", I think we will shy away from the glitter of those "cookie cutter" books being thrown out to the public on a daily basis.

                                          I am totally committed to this idea & feel it is now a grass roots concept, but will take hold once people wake up to knowing they don't need 10 different recipes for 10 different types of Chinese master recipe-10 bad is that? As Ina Garten would say. Of course that would slow consumer consumption on many levels as you mentioned, but as we often say, "less is more".

                                          Sign me up for your next class, I know several people who would like to attend also. Thank you.

                                          1. re: gingershelley

                                            I will check on "Ratios" & Flavor Bible". Thanks.

                                            1. re: cstout

                                              Thank you as well, cstout, for getting behind the concept... I would hope others would jump on the bandwagon that clearly MamaChef, yourself, and humbly, I advocate....

                                              It seems to me to be a saner way to get to good meals- and you can see much evidence of this type of cooking if you read the 'what's for dinner" threads; alot of creative 'open the fridge and riff' type cooking going on based on a lot of creativity and knowledge . T
                                              Tho I must admit, we all still love our new cookbooks, sigh. Lot's to learn out there.

                                              1. re: gingershelley

                                                gingershelly, are you & mamachef personal friends? Just wondered since you said you were teaching a technique similar/same as hers. I tried to do the Chinese soup following this technique, but I got hung up & just tossed it out to folks to see if they could patch it up...just wish you folks would hurry up & start putting more of these gems out. Is your goal to teach others this technique so they can go put together their own "master recipes" or will it be your own master recipes? Please correct me if I should be calling it something besides "master recipes".

                                                Your style is what I would call the "Middle Person's" technique...we are past the stage of adhering to a set recipe, but not far enough along to cook like someone who has been to culinary school or wherever. Sill don't know what goes with what to taste good.

                                                These are the types of cooks that will really appreciate your methodology.

                                                1. re: cstout

                                                  Cstout, I wish Mamachef and I were personal friends! I admire her, and her way of being in the kitchen; and her lack of trepidation in cooking food.:)

                                                  I have followed her on CH since I got very interested here on these boards for the last year, but humble me says, she has been around far longer than I on these pages. So, I listen to her good ear, and great kitchen knowledge, and learn.

                                                  I think both she and I have more to say on the 'master recipe' or way to get to a result on any type of food... but that is from both of our background, and many hours of cooking.

                                                  I will simply say: MamaChef! I admire you!

                                                  1. re: gingershelley

                                                    Gingershelley, that's really sweet. I haven't been here all that much longer than you, though, and the beauty of the 'hound is that everybody has a place and something to teach, and something to learn. I know that the breadth of my wisdom and experiences have been enriched immeasurably by the 'hound community. From the novice cook to the person whose experience varies widely from my own, my eyes have been opened and I've been seriously humbled by the generosity on these threads. I definitely wouldn't cook nor write as well nor would my days be as enjoyable nor edifying if not for the Chow community. We're all really lucky to have this forum, for sure.

                                                    1. re: mamachef

                                                      Mamchef, well said - and I agree wholeheartedly! This place has made such a place in my heart since I really discovered it a year ago.

                                                      First found you all when the Frenchman and I were heading to Barcelona, San Sebastian and to the Perigord in France.... I did a bunch of research here on dining options and it made our trip - then was unemployed last spring and got all into the food boards - changed my cooking life for sure:)

                                                      Thanks to all CH'rs for that!

                                            2. re: gingershelley

                                              gingershelley, Flavor Bible & Ratios....been to Amazon & read all the reviews & did the "Look Inside" thingy & here is my take on what each had to offer me.

                                              Ratios....a turnoff since I hate math & don't want to sit down & figure all this out. Hand me a basic recipe for something & then I can move on over to the Flavor Bible. I can see how the 2 are used together...great concept, but not for math haters.

                                              Flavor Bible....a book of combinations. One example they showed was Blueberries & what all could be combined with them. Well, that is great so far & my pea brain decided I could do something simple like muffins using blueberries as my main flavor & then adding some bananas & cinnamon. Well, I will have to go find a basic muffin mix, but I still won't know how much fruit to add...maybe that is where the Ratios book would come in handy, but again, I don't want to have to build my own basic muffin mix recipe. Isn't there a muffin recipe out there that would tell me how much fruit to add? Same goes if I wanted to make a fruit pie...I need a basic fruit pie recipe....where are these "Basic" recipes at? I like to call them "Master" recipes, because from them I will be able to create all kinds of things using that recipe as my launching point. Oh gosh, my brain is slowly melting thinking about it.

                                              I promise this is the last discussion about it. Does anybody have a "master list" for Chinese rice? Or did I already ask that question & everybody ran off because they got bored with being sidetracked?

                                              This is my last post on "master" anything...I promise.

                                              1. re: cstout

                                                Did you do a search for Chinese rice?
                                                Also, I still recommend going to the library and checking our some cookbooks and reading them.
                                                I started with the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, then moved on from there. The more you read, the more you cook, the easier this becomes. The BH&G cookbook has a great muffin recipe, with variations.

                                                1. re: cstout

                                                  Did you mean ratios for a Chinese-style Fried Rice? Or just regular rice? If you did mean the regular, I think I already recommended that you just invest in another rice cooker, buy the best quality rice available to you, wash it, and follow proportion instructions that come with the cooker. It really is no-fail. I wish I could be more specific about home cooking instructions, but I use the double-water-by-sight method with Jasmine rice and it always works out as long as I use a heavy-bottomed saucepan and don't mess with it once covered.
                                                  If you do mean Fried Rice? Well, the most important thing is to pre-cook your rice and have it chilled and waiting for you; again, you'll be doing fast work once you get going so having your prep. done is pretty critical (I feel strange writing "mise" for Asian food. :)
                                                  For four persons, to serve generously:
                                                  4 c. cold cooked rice of any kind
                                                  6. T. oil

                                                  Aromatics - minced garlic,ginger, reconstituted dried mushrooms,minced onion, diced chiles, minced lemongrass 1/3 c. total, according to taste.....easy w/ the garlic and lemongrass
                                                  Veg: as many or few as you like: onions, mushrooms, beansprouts, water chestnuts, snow peas, strips of bell pepper, shredded cabbage of any kind, shredded lettuce (great way to use up iceberg!!), sliced zucchini, shallots, green onion, peas and carrots, broccoli -
                                                  Protein: 2 eggs, lightly scrambled, by themselves or in addition to roughly 1 c. any other protein: baby shrimp, chopped prawns, diced ham, chopped rendered bacon, shredded/diced chicken, pork, beef, chopped peanuts....anything. This is a killer way to use your lefltovers.
                                                  Salt, pepper, soy, fish sauce, stock - to taste and moisten
                                                  Have all veg. and proteins and aromatics prepped ahead including eggs, if using..... heat wok over medium-high heat and add 2 T. oil; swirl 'til shimmering. Add your aromatics and give them about a minute or so, until transluscent. Transfer to small bowl and set aside, but save oil in wok, adding 1 more T. and bringing back up to temp. now add your veg and give them a good minute and a half, keeping it moving; and add protein to pan. Season all w/ salt, pepper, a dash or two of soy and another one or two of fish sauce, give it all a good toss, and remove from wok (again saving oil) and set aside. Add rest of oil to pan and again bring up to temp; add your rice and just start the usual process; keep it moving, separating grains with fork or spatula. Give a shake of salt and pepper after 3-4 minutes, when nice and hot, and add set-aside bowl of goodies. Toss together and taste for seasoning again and serve asap.
                                                  Again, the mix-and-match is the beauty of it, plus it's a great way to plan for leftovers or at least have a plan B for them. Just keep as your guideline the four cooked cups of rice and the cup of protein to roughly - and I do mean roughly-two of veg. You could reverse that ratio; you can change the seasonings, you can do any number of things, but you really can't wreck it unless you sear the rice so long and hard that it becomes crunchy and inedible. :) But no combination here tastes wrong, and as I said it's the best leftover user I can think of, not to mention just a good cheap meal - one of my favorites when there's "nothing in the house" is the plainest of mixtures: just garlic, ginger, onion, eggs, bacon and cabbage with the rice.

                                                  1. re: mamachef

                                                    Rice instructions...yes, the mix & match methods are wonderful...thanks for another set of instructions that provides us with a bunch of compact instructions that will keep the rice cooker busy every day.

                                                    Rats, I am sitting here wondering what to fix we with not much in the house (one more day to wait for grocery shopping). I now can make a rice/cabbage meal, but unfortunately I do not have any bacon (that is the "protein" ingredient, I suppose). But will be tasty anyway. I would have never ever thought of those combinations. Do you scramble the eggs & mix them in there or fry them & place on top?

                                                    PS...I think I am getting the hang of this whole mix/match much fun to think about.

                                                    1. re: cstout

                                                      You can either do a cabbage/rice dish and top with the eggs, or you can scramble them med. and put in (my choice for this dish) or you can beat the eggs and when your rice is smokin' hot, pour the eggs over and blend gently so the heat of the rice cooks the egg, which will make it closer texturally to a biryani.

                                                    2. re: mamachef

                                                      Mamachef, I made fried rice using your formula today. It was SOOO much better than I usually make. I think a big difference was the fish sauce & msg. It was seriously the best batch I ever made. Thank you so much for posting your tips! I can't wait to try another recipe.

                                                      Relating to your thread about leaving leftovers out, I left the rice out on the counter to cool & my daughter kept coming by taking another bite, then another, then another. I finally had to put it up & tell her to stay out of it since it was for lunch the next day. I have no doubt she would've eaten the whole thing if I left it out. :)

                                                      1. re: jcattles

                                                        jcattles, I am so glad you enjoyed it. Yep, the fish sauce really does add some depth to what can be a really bland concoction.
                                                        Ah, yes - the disappearence of the leftovers. Hazards of the home kitchen!!

                                                    3. re: cstout

                                                      RE: Ratio

                                                      I'm not the best with math either, if you have an iphone, ipad or an android device, there is a ratio app that will calculate everything for you & has all the basic ratios from the book. You can also save your "recipes" and make notes. I have it & I use it all the time. It costs about $4.99 but is completely worth it. It's one of the few apps I was willing to purchase.

                                                      1. re: jcattles

                                                        Jcattles, thanks for the heads up on that app! I will go and get it. That would be a super help, as I like the book, but can't remember more than a couple of those ratio's off the top of my head.

                                                        That should help Cstout as well:)

                                                        1. re: jcattles

                                                          Ratio app, I do not have any of those devices at this point, but have been seriously considering getting one...which are you using? I guess I would need the Ratio book to go along with the app. Thank you so much...this is getting to be funner & funner (I couldn't think of a better word). Thanks for informing us.

                                                          1. re: cstout

                                                            I bought it when I had an android phone but have since bought an iPhone. I haven't bought the apple version yet but probably will soon. Right now, I just make sure my old phone is charged and use it when I need the app.

                                                            1. re: jcattles

                                                              jcattles...the ratio app is great...just wish I could put the app on my computer, but will continue to search this app & perhaps come across the same thing available for computers. Thanks again...

                                                                1. re: jcattles

                                                                  jcattles, Ruhlman's Ratio app, well have found out an app of any kind is not compatible with a computer, so that is out for me right now. But, with your help, I think I need to just press the button & purchase that book so I can at least learn a new concept...I knew the lack of interest in math would some day come back to haunt me. Thanks for all the info. Learning ratios will probably help me to master bread making better too. A lot of bread books talk about ratios, so all that much more reason to figure it out.

                                                                  1. re: cstout

                                                                    I love the book, it stays on my counter along with ones of his other books, Twenty. I will say that for his pancake recipe, I decrease the amount of butter. They taste really great, but are just a bit greasy for my taste. That's the great thing though, it's easy to make those adjustments as needed.

                                                                    Here is a couple of links for converting measurements if you're interested.



                                            3. re: mamachef

                                              Just to make sure you know for positives: I don't have 97 cats: I have 3. :)

                                          2. re: mamachef

                                            mamachef, lemon grass is so easy to grow, you can just buy a little pot of it in the store & it will grow like a weed. the roots can be divided & you will soon have many plants. Mine looked like Pampas grass. I had about fifteen large bunches, but the cows got in the yard one day & pulled them all up & ate every one of them. Since I did not know how to cook with them, I did not bother to replace them. I pulled a long leaf one time & tried to eat it just like that & it was very tough & there was no way you could swallow it, so I just never thought about lemon grass anymore...until now.

                                          3. re: cstout

                                            You can also get it pre-minced in a tube. That's what I use, as the fresh stuff is hard to find.

                                      2. re: mamachef

                                        Folks, I think we ought to get mamachef to write her own cookbook. She is always so organized in her thoughts & her ideas of recipes are outstanding. She cooks in a way that recipes aren't needed. Mamachef, if you are listening, please consider doing it. You have a "calling" girl & we all need more info provided in this manner. You might as well get started right now..or else we will pull it out of you one chapter at a time!!!

                                          1. re: cstout

                                            Thanks so much. I'm thinking about blogging, actually. :)

                                            1. re: mamachef

                                              do it, really. I'm not just blowing smoke....

                                              1. re: kubasd

                                                Yep, no smoke here...we just want MORE of Mamachef's tasties!

                                                1. re: mamachef

                                                  Your directions are so clear. Maybe you should self-publish for Kindle? I'd sure buy a copy!

                                                  1. re: mamachef

                                                    Please do, and do for Indian what you just did for Chinese. I just can't seem to get it right. I'm about one craving away from ordering some boxes of Shan's. Please....

                                                    1. re: silvergirl

                                                      I'd be glad to post a few things here, silvergirl. Is there anything you particularly like? Lentils, cauliflower, potatoes, meats? Let me know also if there' s anything you DON'T like. At any rate when I get your answer, I've got a few ideas about preparations that can be incorporated into other dishes, so talk to you soon!!

                                                      1. re: mamachef

                                                        Yes, please! I'm not a huge fan of cauliflower, but the rest is good. My naan is really good and samosas have turned out ok, but I never really like the flavor of my curries (sometimes I almost blame Penzeys, but I'm sure it's really my fault). I was planning to try my hand at mulligatawny this week, which I'm not sure is actually Indian, but sounds good to me. So, any and all advice will be appreciated. My sister was married to a Pakistani for a while when I was in high school and his cooking haunts me still. Thank you so much.

                                                        1. re: silvergirl

                                                          Hi Silvergirl,

                                                          Sorry to butt in. If Pakistani style cooking haunts, there is no way you will ever duplicate it using curry powder of any sort, because your ex-brother in law never did use any! I am an Indian from the northern half, with experience in the meat cookery of Pakistan, and our northern tier. If that is what you liked, then you will have to be prepared to cook with a sufficient amount of oil or ghee, because he most definitely did!!!

                                                          Next, he never cooked anything called a "curry"! He cooked a chicken karhai, or a korma, or a saalan, or a number of dishes, that I show you how to replicate, BUT only if you promise to follow my instruction faithfully. Do as I say, and use your own modifications ONLY after you have done it my way ONCE at least. So if I tell you to use 10 cups of oil & 1 kg of tomatoes for 1 gram [yes!] of chicken, you must agree, even it offends your sensibilities!!! Okay?

                                                          1. re: GTM

                                                            Okay! (sorry I just noticed your post - don't know how I missed it). I promise.

                                                        2. re: mamachef

                                                          Mama, I made my mulligatawny last night and it seemed a little sour to me I assume because of the apple, since it only tasted that way after I added it. When you write your book or blog, please address flavor balancing in your Indian chapter/blog entry. I don't know enough about Indian ingredients and their functions to know how to fix these sorts of problems. I'm good on basic Italian, Chinese and American, but there's always more to be learned. And I've read lots of Indian cookbooks, but none have really explained anything, just given recipes. So, please write your blog or cookbook. I will be first in line.

                                                          1. re: silvergirl

                                                            Did it contain tamarind?
                                                            I haven't forgotten you, silvergirl........but what I have are simple, kinda no-fail recipes as opposed to what's above. I have a nice recipe for mulligatawney soup, if you'd like that or any of the others. :)

                                                            1. re: mamachef

                                                              There was no tamarind. The reason I chose my recipe was that it was so simple I didn't see how I could mess it up. Lentils, broth, chicken, cream, garam masala and curry. Oh, and a granny smith. Maybe it was me and not the soup, but I didn't like it very much.
                                                              And I'm not a hurrier. I was kind of saying that I can happily wait for your book or blog. My husband doesn't like Indian much, so it's not something I make often, but would like for it to be good when I do. Anyway, I would love your mulligatawny recipe and a simple curry or two. I'd love to try keema. I also love restaurant style chicken tikka masala. I intend someday to try making paneer, but don't see how I can mess up the flavor of that. It looks pretty straight forward. Thank you, mama chef.

                                                              1. re: silvergirl

                                                                "curry" Curry is a blend, or did you use curry leaf? The spice in the container marked "curry" is a mixture of many different spices. Different blends can be quite different from another.

                                                                1. re: wyogal

                                                                  Sorry, curry powder. Like I said, it was a simple recipe. It was curry powder and garam masala. The curry powder I used was penzeys sweet curry powder. But you reminded me, there was also a bayleaf. And I did know that about curry powder. It's one of those products like hoisin that I can't seem to find the right one of. Most of the Indian recipes I've tried contain at least some curry powder and I think that perhaps contributes to my problem, not having a curry powder I really like. Or maybe I should go the all individual spice rout. I'll try whatever mama tells me. Or whomever should have advice for me.

                                                                  1. re: silvergirl

                                                                    We have a Natural Grocers that sells spices really cheap. I taught a class last fall, one of the sessions was Indian music/food. I started to enjoy mixing individual spices then. It really is fun, and can open up a lot of taste possibilities.

                                                            2. re: silvergirl

                                                              Here's another version you might like to try. First though; always make sure your curry powder (if you're not blending) is fresh and first-quality.

                                                              Mulligatawney Soup (Not Indian - developed by Colonials in India)

                                                              1 1/4 c. water

                                                              1/2 t. salt

                                                              1/2 c. long-grain rice, washed

                                                              Make your rice; set aside to cool.

                                                              1 large whole chicken breast

                                                              6 c. chicken broth (canned/boxed/fresh)

                                                              1 onion, quartered

                                                              1 carrot, scraped and quartered

                                                              4 T. butter

                                                              6 whole scallions, trimmed and minced

                                                              2 celery stalks, strung and minced

                                                              1 green apple, peeled, cored and finelly chopped

                                                              1 T. curry powder (or to taste)

                                                              1 1/2 T. sp flour

                                                              1/2 t. dried thyme or 1 t. fresh minced thyme

                                                              2 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped

                                                              salt/pepper to taste

                                                              1/2 c. heavy cream

                                                              Cover chicken with broth; add onion and carrot. Bring to boil, lower heat, cover and cook for 25 minutes or until chicken is tender, skimming as necessary. Remove chicken when done and cut into slivers. Strain and reserve the broth; discard broth veg. In large deep pot, med. heat, melt 2 T. butter and add scallions, celery and apple and cook 5 minutes. Do not brown. Stir in curry powder, flour and thyme. Add tomatoes and cook off most liquid, 6-7 minutes. Gradually add broth, stirring all the while. Taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper if required. Stir in chicken rice, cream and remaining butter and heat to just under boiling. Enjoy.

                                                              (Some people add about 1/4 c. chopped prunes or dates to this. I find the apple lends enough sweetness, so I don't use it.)

                                                              1. re: mamachef

                                                                Mulligatawawney soup....ummmm. Have never eaten it, but it will be my next soup project. I don't even know what Mulligatawawney means, but I won't dare ask another stupid question..I will look it up on the pooter. Thank you.

                                                        3. re: mamachef

                                                          You'll have me as a reader!!! Do blog!!!! Please, please!!!

                                                      2. re: mamachef

                                                        Wow, just wow! Let me add to the chorus of approvals for your post. Just magnificent.

                                                        I've been looking around for a recipe for the brown sauce after having a simple but memorably tasty dish at a restaurant back east once simply called 'Shrimp in Brown Sauce'. I just whipped up a sample batch of your sauce, and this is very close to what I remember. I can tinker a bit with it. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

                                                        Egg Foo Yung and pan fried noodles are great suggestions too, both faves from my childhood I still prepare today. We always called the noodles 'hard noodles', and Chinese restaurants sold them plain as a side dish, just like white rice, something I never see today.

                                                        (And yes, please do blog!)

                                                        1. re: RelishPDX

                                                          So glad you found it helpful! How serendipitous!! And I'm happy you found it clear.
                                                          One thing I didn't mention is that the "secret ingredient" is still in frequent use at many Asian restaurants. Yep, I'm talking about the dreaded MSG. Ac'cent. And if you have no aversion to it, sometimes it can give just that little added oomph. I've never had a headache problem with it or known anyone who has - I'm not suggesting that it's not a real phenomenon - but as I said if you have no aversion to it you might buy a bindle of the sparkly powder and throw a few crystals into your concotion. And the brown sauce is an easy fix: if what you remember is sweeter, it's the Hoisin you need; if umame is missing it's soy, and the booze is for balance and depth. Let me know how it turns out!!

                                                        2. re: mamachef

                                                          I was just about to ask if those 5 sauces could be made ahead and frozen -- but each is just a quick mix, no simmering, etc. Talked myself out of it.
                                                          Thanks so much for this post!

                                                          1. re: blue room

                                                            You made the right decision, blue room - the cornstarch would be a problem, and as you said it's just a matter of dumping the ingredients into a mixing cup and having at it. 4 minutes at the most, start to finish. And you're more than welcome, I'm glad you feel you can get something out of it!

                                                            1. re: mamachef

                                                              Thank you!!!!! Perfect dinner for a busy night. Meat and veggies can get prepared in the morning. Would the sauces hold up if I mixed in the morning and put in the fridge till dinner time? I like how everything you mentined is so simple- I can stir fry baby's dinner earlier and not make the whole dish suffer.

                                                              1. re: cheesecake17

                                                                Cheesecake17, holding the sauce covered in the fridge might work. I've never done it because it's just a minute or two to mix. I don't know if the starch would break down and then not thicken the food, but if you do try it remember to give it a really good stir before you use it because the starch will definitely have settled.
                                                                These are good meals for busy moms, and another thing to remember is that if you can get some clear space on the weekend to work in the kitchen after you shop, you can prep. several of these types of meals in advance. Use your imagination, too: you can make a Stroganoffy-type thing by having strips of steak, mushrooms and onions cut up and then instead of one of the above sauces, just add beef broth and sour cream and thicken it a little with a slurry. Presto!! Another culture heard from!! (Do that one with noodles...though the rice would be fine as well..)

                                                                1. re: mamachef

                                                                  Stroganoffy recipe. Do you just follow the steps you set up with the Chinese food method? Will I just stay with my wok to do this version?

                                                                  I am thinking of Tamar Adler's - An Everlasting Meal....your methodology could become Mama Chef's - A Never Ending Recipe....or something like that...

                                                                  Some of you other Chow folks out there could put on their thinking caps & create their own versions of the Never Ending Recipe..there are so many brilliant people out there...get pen in hand & start building. Pick your culture or idea & start composing. German, Italian, whatever. Maybe not even a culture...just a good foundation recipe that can become a basic building block for lots of variations.

                                                                  I think I will start a new post on this idea...maybe people will be underwhelmed with the whole thing, but it is worth a try.

                                                                  1. re: cstout

                                                                    That's what people who cook a lot do. It's all about method and switching out ingredients.

                                                                    1. re: cstout

                                                                      Well, there goes the book! Bye-bye!!
                                                                      I guess what I mainly meant was that you can look at those ingredient lists and think outside the Asian box....if you like beef and onions and mushrooms in spicy sauce, chances are you're going to enjoy them in a Stroganoff, or a Marengo. And I've used my wok for Stroganoff for one very special reason: it lets me get such a good sear on the meat, and the other components are done in an absolute flash so the meat stays rare and the veg. doesn't get mushy. It's important not to let it boil once you add the sour cream, though; just make sure it gets nice and hot.

                                                                      1. re: mamachef

                                                                        mamachef, nix on me creating another thread about your methodology...I will not steal your thunder. This is your baby & absolutely not my place to ask others to expound on your idea here on Chowhound. That is up to you if you wish to have others participate. Just got carried away in wanting to help out.

                                                                        Please continue think outside of any box...we are eager for more. I am sure there are folks who can think beyond a given recipe, but I know for a fact, there are many others who cannot do this & your ideas will help us tremendously. Our brains are stagnant & we have to be herded along...hence so many cookbooks with so many variations of the same recipe...but your ideas just condense it all down & I am just loving to learn a new way of looking at a recipe.

                                                                        Please forgive me if I have said something that put a damper on your thought processes, quite the contrary, I just wanted to help you to get enough courage & ideas to just take off. I will back off & hope you understand I was only trying to encourage you.

                                                                        1. re: cstout

                                                                          Honey, I was 99 3/4 % kidding. I wouldn't harsh you - you're the one who's been encouraging me like crazy!!

                                                                          There are so many people here who know so much more than me, about a huge diversity of things. I'd be humbled to hear from them and exchange ideas. Don't be silly. I appreciate that you have that kind of faith in me. Awwww.Remember too, I offered it here on CH - If I wanted to publish something and keep it secret until then, this is the last place I'd toss it out. :) And if people enjoy expounding on that........wonderful!!
                                                                          I'm sorry I caused you even one minutes' concern, c. I sure didn't mean to.


                                                                          1. re: mamachef

                                                                            Bless you for being so big hearted...all is back to the real deal.... please try to come up with the same ideas for other cultures. I for one know very little about types of cooking other than good ol American stuff. If I did buy a cookbook about Indian cooking, I would just be overwhelmed & would never really know if my recipe turned out right or not since I have never tasted Indian cuisine. A simple set up of really basic menus that would help to introduce a person to that culture & taste would be so good. I know I probably could find a "Indian Cooking for Dummies" or some other such thing, but those Dummy books are a complete turn off for me. As I said before, some things that people call simple end up being quite complicated.
                                                                            It would be a wonderful thing to be able to make a simple Indian dish & then make variations of it, but I just don't know how to do that or where to find that type of book.

                                                                            Well, can we have some ideas about rice...I now have a rice cooker & would like to make some versions of Chinese rice. Where do we start????

                                                                            1. re: cstout

                                                                              You can find lots of cookbooks at the library. Read them and you will get an idea of basic techniques and ingredients, as they will appear over and over again in recipes. It is also a free resource.

                                                                              1. re: wyogal

                                                                                One thing you might google, c, is "technique-driven cooking" and I think you will find some other books and resources. I don't know gingershelley at all, but the fact that we have the same style should tell you that many many others are out there; maybe even in your area? Have you got a community college or center that offers classes? Different teachers have different styles, and you sound like you know what works for you, learning-wise, so then it's just finding a fit!

                                                                                1. re: mamachef

                                                                                  Thanks for the suggestion, but I'm fine. I also teach classes at the local community college.

                                                                                  1. re: wyogal

                                                                                    Wyogal, you should be on the comittee of conference for 'cooking without recipes"....

                                                                                    1. re: gingershelley

                                                                                      That's O.K., I just do what I do, offer advice, and people take it or leave it as they see fit.

                                                                    2. re: mamachef

                                                                      Thanks. I'm going to try it soon. Moving this week and everything is in uproar. It's been takeout for a while.

                                                                      FYI pepper steak and chicken chow mein are super easy to prep. also good when prepared in the morning and heated up for dinner.

                                                              2. re: mamachef

                                                                Nice post mamachef! A very susinct way to get started on 'the american-chinese way' in your home kitchen. Impressive, and I shall save this post for my personal edification!

                                                                Now, can you tell me how to make mu shu pork in a pinch?

                                                                1. re: gingershelley

                                                                  I'd julienne the pork and buy a bag of the aforementioned coleslaw mix and a good cup of bean sprouts and have some dried black mushrooms (3-4) soaking in warm water while I scrambled a couple eggs and chopped 4 green onions into 2-inch lengths and set them aside. Drain and chop the shrooms (and since this is a bastard version, don't worry- if you need to use domestic or Portabellinis, just shred them after you lose the stems. Do the frying w/ 3 garlic cloves, 2 t. ginger, 3 T. stock, 2T. Soy, 1 T. sherry, 2 t. sesame oil, 1 t. sugar - it will require about 3 T. oil. At any rate, get your oil hot and follow the cooking directions, using the aromatics, pork, mushrooms, slaw mix, sprouts and onions; at the last stir in the cooked eggs and 2 T. Plum Sauce to 2 T. Hoisin and another two of dry sherry; toss well and serve with the thinnest storebought pancakes you can find and some extra plum or hoisin to spread on the pancakes. I'm lucky to be able to purchase them at Asian markets here, but when I couldn't I'd do something similar to this with small flour tortillas. Blasphemy!! But they tasted great, and my kids sure didn't care.

                                                                  1. re: mamachef

                                                                    mamachef, thanks for another great recipe.

                                                                2. re: mamachef

                                                                  OK mamachef, I keep going back to this mix & match recipe list you gave us for Chinese take out food & am spending way too much time trying to figure out how you did that. I a wondering if you used Ruhlman's Ratio book & perhaps the Flavor Bible to help you figure this out.

                                                                  Without having either book in my hand, I do not know if these 2 books could have been used to compose something like the mix & match theory.

                                                                  Also, what is your opinion of these 2 books?

                                                                  Are ratios the way recipes are are "born"...always wondered how all the recipes in the world came about & how more & more are popping up by the minute.

                                                                  Did you find the Ratio book intimidating? Just don't know if it would be for me since the minute I hear numbers,equations & whatnot, I shut my brain off, which is pretty easy to do since it is only in slow mode to begin with.

                                                                  They are loaded in my cart & all is ready to select "pay now". I made a New Year resolution not to be so eager to purchase every cookbook that comes along & I am just trying to keep up to my word. Somebody help me decide.

                                                                  1. re: mamachef

                                                                    So, I need to saute up a bunch of zucchini. Which sauce would you recommend??? I am so excited to do this tonight!

                                                                    1. re: mamachef

                                                                      OK, I just want to say that I made the clear sauce tonight, with scallions, garlic (both from farmer's market), snow peas, and regular old freezer peas and it was absolutely fantastic. This is awesome. I need no other resources on this topic. Brava mamachef!!!

                                                                    2. One ingredient that I find very useful and it helps to get that "just right taste" is five spice powder.

                                                                      1. Grace Young has some great youtube videos you might want to check out.
                                                                        Her advice helped me rescue my wok from the back of the cabinet a few years ago.

                                                                        The Splendid Table public radio program also had some very useful tips on a program they broadcast a few years ago. (The host started her career teaching Chinese cooking.)
                                                                        Listen to the tape near (I think) @21:01.

                                                                        And another useful tip is to make sure your vegetables are as dry as possible before adding them to the hot oil in the wok. And don't put too much into the wok at once -- overcrowding is a no-no.

                                                                        15 Replies
                                                                        1. re: racer x

                                                                          racer x, you mentioned dry veggies for the hot oil....does that mean the veggies have to be all fresh instead of frozen? I think I could dry them off once they thaw out, but don't know if they will retain too much water due to the frozen process. I guess I am asking if frozen veggies will work just as well in stir frying. Thank you.

                                                                          1. re: cstout

                                                                            can I ask what kind of veg. you might be using frozen? I'm thinking probably the peas, but what else? Because I'm with wyogal except for one consideration: if you're talking about frozen veg. that are specifically for stir-frying (I think BirdsEye and Chun King might make some) and follow the instructions to a T, they might be okay.........not high-quality but then I don't like frozen veg. I can see where this might work in an emergency, and I know you're busy - but the basic recipe is so easy that it might be just as simple to chop your veg. the night before and ziploc them. if availability is the problem, there are a few, very few frozen things I'd use: bell pepper strips, onions, spinach, and peas are the ones I can think of, but only in an emergency.

                                                                            1. re: mamachef

                                                                              I love frozen veggies.. especially anything from Trader Joe's. Pepper strips, onions, leeks, artichokes, pepper/onion combo, peas, corn, string beans, spinach, edamame, butternut squash, garlic cubes, cilantro cubes... all have a very welcomed place in my freezer!

                                                                              Also love the selection of precut vegetables in Trader Joe's and Wegman's. Yes, it's more expensive and yes, I would rather prep my own. It just doesn't always happen that way.

                                                                              1. re: cheesecake17

                                                                                They certainly have their place, and you're right: in a perfect world, yadda yadda. I'm no stranger to conveniences myself.

                                                                            2. re: cstout

                                                                              I wouldn't use frozen veggies. Except for peas that go in the at the end.

                                                                              1. re: wyogal

                                                                                wyogal & mamachef....darn it...kinda thought I made a big boo boo when I bought several packages of those frozen stir fry, Asian blend & what not thingies. Will stick to the fresh veggies except for the peas. Now does anyone have any suggestions as to what I could do with my "faux" stir fry me put them in SOMETHING...see, I told you I need basic instructions.

                                                                                1. re: cstout

                                                                                  They can be used in soups and stews when you don't need them to be crispy. They can be a real time saver for soups.

                                                                                  1. re: Transplant_DK

                                                                                    Frozen stir fry veggies....yes a soup would work, how can I make a Chinesey soup...let's see if we can use Mamachef's Master list to make a Chinese soup. . Here goes....

                                                                                    ALMOST MAMACHEF'S MASTER LIST FOR CHINESE SOUP

                                                                                    Protein - yes, pick from her list

                                                                                    Marinate - no, won't need that step in a soup (I guess)

                                                                                    Prep - not much to do here, frozen does not need prepping (but this step needs to be included in the event we will be using fresh veggies)

                                                                                    Sauce - well, we could substitute that word for "Broth" this step we could say beef, chicken, veggie or water.

                                                                                    Yeah, we followed through all the steps....wait....I think this soup needs some rice...would rice be listed in the "Protein" step or what?

                                                                                    Also need some spices...would we need to make a step that would show the spices that will go with this soup. Should that step say "aromatics" or should we make a separate step for that too? I don't know where to go at this point.

                                                                                    Do you have any suggestions? Anybody out there want to help clean up this Chinese Soup Master List???

                                                                                  2. re: cstout

                                                                                    Do you have a cookbook, or know how to google? lots of recipes out there.
                                                                                    Follow the package instructions. You can still cook them. It just won't turn out like it would if you used fresh vegetables.

                                                                                    1. re: wyogal

                                                                                      wyogal, yes I do have cookbooks & I know how to google.

                                                                                      I do not know how to make Chinese food, & thought it would be fun to play around with the concept Mamachef presented to us...if you get down to it, we really don't need to get on Chowhound when there are so many other places to search, but you people are so helpful & so much fun, it is a pleasure to hang out here. Besides if we did not talk about food, what Would we talk about? Just saying.

                                                                                      Yes, you are right about using frozen veggies in the recipes given here, but at the time, I did not know they wouldn't work in a stir fry or wherever. Fresh is always better but sometimes you gotta make do or do without.

                                                                                      1. re: cstout

                                                                                        Don't apologize. I'd always rather use fresh, but as cheesecake pointed out, frozen have their place as well. Now you know what you know, but even if you decided you prefererred the frozen, you wouldn't necessarilyl be "wrong."

                                                                                        1. re: mamachef

                                                                                          Mama chef, thank you for the soup recipe above. I will try it soon. And I put this here just to say I love frozen peas and carrots, you know, the mix with little cubes of carrots in my fried rice. I'm sure it would be wonderful with fresh, but not the same.

                                                                                          1. re: silvergirl

                                                                                            Me too. I'd never go to the trouble of dicing carrots, and fresh peas usually suck. :)

                                                                                2. re: cstout

                                                                                  I've usen frozen veggies before - sometimes they are just handy that way. Now I've had them thawed out & cooled, water drained off. I just toss them in to heat up as they don't really need to be cooked.

                                                                                  However, once I realized BJ's sells fresh broccoli florets - I've been buying them instead. I like them better.

                                                                              2. My most recent favorite Chinese take out recipe --

                                                                                General Tso's Chicken

                                                                                serves 4

                                                                                3 eggs, beaten
                                                                                1/2 cup cornstarch plus 2 teaspoons, divided
                                                                                1 1/2 pounds chicken tenders, cut in 1-inch chunks
                                                                                2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
                                                                                3 tablespoons rice wine
                                                                                3 tablespoons sugar
                                                                                1/2 teaspoon ginger
                                                                                3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
                                                                                safflower or peanut oil
                                                                                8 dried chili peppers
                                                                                1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

                                                                                4 cups cooked jasmine rice

                                                                                In a large bowl, combine the eggs and 1/2 cup cornstarch. Add the chicken and toss to coat. Set aside.

                                                                                To make the sauce, in a small bowl combine the 2 teaspoons cornstarch, rice wine vinegar, rice wine, sugar, ginger, and soy sauce. Set aside.

                                                                                In a large saute pan, heat about 1 inch of oil over medium high heat. Add the chicken in batches (do not crowd the pan) and cook until just cooked through and lightly browned. Remove from pan to paper towels.

                                                                                Over medium high heat, add chicken back to the pan and add chili peppers. Cook for 30 seconds being careful not to burn the peppers. Add in the sauce mixture and toss with the chicken and peppers for about 1 minute.

                                                                                Sprinkle with the red pepper flakes and serve over jasmine rice.

                                                                                29 Replies
                                                                                1. re: eatmyfood

                                                                                  eatmyfood, thank you for the General's recipe...this is also being filed in my hidey hole. Classic take out food. Your are a dear for sharing.

                                                                                  Just asking, who was General Tso? Mighty fine that man was to come up with this dish!

                                                                                  1. re: cstout

                                                                                    Check this out.... interesting story about the origin, no, it was not General Tso that came up with the dish.

                                                                                    1. re: wyogal

                                                                                      wyogal, NYTIMES article about who General Tso was...very interesting. Thanks for sharing. Weng, Wang Wo or General Tso, it all tastes good to me.

                                                                                      1. re: racer x

                                                                                        racer know I think Chowhound ought to be considered as a course in school...there is so much to learn on these postings...History, Math, different food cultures. I learn something different every day. Thanks for sharing.

                                                                                    2. re: eatmyfood

                                                                                      eatmyfood.....quick question about the General Tso recipe. Do you really mean to combine the eggs and cornstarch together, and then toss the chicken in it? Or do you mean to coat the chicken with eggs first and then coat with cornstarch?

                                                                                      1. re: egbluesuede

                                                                                        Hi, egbluesuede. Yep, that's exactly what she means. It will not only tenderize the protein but give it a beautiful crispy coating.

                                                                                        1. re: mamachef

                                                                                          ok then. It's my wifes favorite Chinese that is on the menu for tonight. Sounds awesome! Thanks mamachef.

                                                                                          1. re: egbluesuede

                                                                                            Great!! Please, do report back and tell us how it was.

                                                                                            1. re: mamachef

                                                                                              I cut the amount of chiles in half because my wife won't eat things too spicy. I think it made the sauce too sweet, so I'd add more chiles next time. I also didn't really get a crispy coating with the batter, but I'm sure there's some sort of technique I'm not getting right with that. I took the chicken straight out of the mixing bowl with the egg/corn starch batter, and dropped it right into the wok in three batches. Was that wrong? Also, I think I should cut the chicken into smaller pieces so they cook faster before the coating browns too much. Any advice on how to improve my "crispy coating"?

                                                                                              1. re: egbluesuede

                                                                                                Yes. I encouraged you to follow the recipe because it's what I always do: make it as directed and then start tweaking. I wasn't trying to be mean or wasteful, but I knew from the way it was written that she meant for the egg and cornstarch wash to be used as she wrote it. Either that, or you dip it in egg and THEN cornstarch and that got left out. That would make sense too.

                                                                                                Next time, "velvet" the chicken by mixing 1/4 c. soy sauce w/ 1 T. cornstarch. Mix it well and marinate your meat for at least 20 minutes. Then take it out, pat it a bit dry, and roll it in plain cornstarch instead of an egg mixture. This will result in the very crispiest chicken ever. Ok, if your larger pieces browned that fast your oil was probably a bit too hot. To cook chicken, drop a bread cube into the oil. It should sizzle and JUST start to brown after a full minute. Do maybe cut your chicken into 1-2" cubes; fry them at about 360.
                                                                                                On to too sweet. The added chiles will not cut the sweetness. They will add flavor though, and maybe too much heat for your wife. If it's too sweet, cut the sugar by 1 T. and increase the vinegar by 2 t. If it's still too sweet, add some chicken broth to it to stretch and nullify the sweetness. Be careful; you don't want to wreck the thickening.
                                                                                                I'm sorry you were unhappy with your meal; the next time it'll work better.

                                                                                                1. re: mamachef

                                                                                                  Mamachef, I'm going to suggest for you own good that you cease posting. You are far too helpful and giving away far too many good secrets that will have the chinese mafia breaking your door down any second.

                                                                                                  1. re: Jjjr

                                                                                                    Jjjr: I saw the words "Mamachef" and "stop posting," and my heart stopped for a minute. I thought this was hate mail. Dang you!!
                                                                                                    Okay, now I can breathe enough to laugh.
                                                                                                    I'm waiting for the knock at the door. It's not in me to stop what I love doing. :)

                                                                                                    1. re: Jjjr

                                                                                                      WHAT????????????????????? Jjjr....get back to where you belong...if they do come breaking down her door, she will sik all 97 screaming cats after them.

                                                                                                      We NEED this Chinese food...we NEED to know these things...please don't cut off our lifeline....we NEED you best hush yourself & stop scaring her like that.

                                                                                                      1. re: cstout

                                                                                                        Just joking around, obviously, but since advice is being freely handed out, any tips on getting Singapore Vermicelli just right, mama?

                                                                                                        I've tried a million times and it's never like takeout

                                                                                                        1. re: Jjjr

                                                                                                          Do you mean fakeout, Jjjr? i've never heard of it.

                                                                                                          1. re: mamachef

                                                                                                            Oh, Singapore Vermicelli/ Singapore Noodles is awesome. bleh pardon my spelling, I'm a wee bit drinunk. But no, I didn't mean mean fakeout. It's something you can order for chinese takeout and it's great. Vermicelli noodles with curry and shrimp, chicken and chinese bbq pork, julienned vegetables ect. It's kind of like a paella (sp) but rice noodles instead of rice and curry instead of cajon seasonings.

                                                                                                            I got hooked on it working as a waiter in a chinese food restaurant and was shocked to discover they kept it off the regular menu and only gave that menu to chinese customers.

                                                                                                            1. re: Jjjr

                                                                                                              Sounds killer, Jjjr. I wish I DID have a recipe. But I'm betting I could whomp something together that's damn close, from your description. Actually, I just now got super curious because it sounded so good. Googled it, and thar she blows. Lotsa hits. I can make tht easy, and you can google it yourself. I liked the BBC recipe a lot. Just google Singapore style noodles, or Singapore noodles.

                                                                                                              1. re: mamachef

                                                                                                                The restaurants around here call it Singapor chow mei fun, I don't know if that will get you different recipes.

                                                                                                                1. re: Logrus9

                                                                                                                  You could also search by the Hanyu pinyin (xing zhou chao mi fen) or the characters (星洲炒米粉). You may see other approximations of the pronunciation in other Chinese languages.

                                                                                                                  You might want to check out this recipe, as Rasa Malaysia often has decent recipes:

                                                                                                                  As I understand it, the version actually served in Singapore is somewhat different from the version that most Chinese restaurants elsewhere make (no curry powder, for one thing).

                                                                                                    2. re: mamachef

                                                                                                      Thanks for the advice. I'll tweak and make again soon.

                                                                                                      1. re: mamachef

                                                                                                        BTW - Another one I have tried to make and failed was a good black bean sauce. Any tips there?

                                                                                                        1. re: egbluesuede

                                                                                                          Ok, help me w/ clarification. Do you want to make a black bean sauce from scratch, as in fermenting the beans? There, I can't help you. But if you're asking about a black bean sauce that you'd get in a restaurant, I'd be more than happy to help. I make a pretty mean one that's great w/ broccoli and most other greens.

                                                                                                          1. re: mamachef

                                                                                                            I can't see me fermenting beans myself. I'm thinking quick take out, black bean chicken I can make at home. I'd love to hear your "mean sauce"!

                                                                                                            1. re: egbluesuede

                                                                                                              Okay, we'll assume you're making chicken or scallops or something, with the Black Bean Sauce. When you marinate the chicken add just a TAD of bean sauce to the marinade. Now, have standing by:
                                                                                                              1 1/4 t. black beans
                                                                                                              1/ 1/4 t. rice wine
                                                                                                              1 T. soy sauce
                                                                                                              2 t. minced garlic
                                                                                                              1 t. minced ginger
                                                                                                              Mix together. When you are almost ready to add your sauce (for this I suggest the clear sauce or the brown) toss black bean mixture with your product of choice, and let cook for a minute or two,and add your cooking sauce of choice;stir well and let it thicken. This should do it for you.

                                                                                                              1. re: mamachef

                                                                                                                Thanks Mama. I'll have to add this one to next week's menu. It's a take out fave of mine that I sometimees order from a special restaurant that is way out of the way for me. They don't even have it on the menu but will make it for me. I tried to make at home once and it was so bad, I'll have to twist some arms around here to let me try it again. I think I'll do much better this time.

                                                                                                                1. re: egbluesuede

                                                                                                                  Was it hypersalty when you made it? Too concentrated? It's possible you mistook jarred black beans for black beans SAUCE - two very, very different animals. The difference between a good meal and a shudder. )

                                                                                                                  1. re: mamachef

                                                                                                                    I think it was a spicy bean paste to begin with, and I probably dumped it on top ot the protein and stirred in the wok. I got it from the asian market, and the english writing on it was pretty limited. I'm not afriad to try......but that occasion was a little further out on the limb than I should have been.

                                                                                            2. re: eatmyfood

                                                                                              Are the directions missing a step or two? I'm reading this as "add chicken back to the pan" that still has 1" of oil in it.

                                                                                            3. Easy Chinese Hot and Sour Soup

                                                                                              Here's a Hot and Sour Soup recipe that we like a lot.
                                                                                              We use to eat out a lot just for this soup. Making it at home saves a lot of money. It tastes very close to what you get at a Chinese restaurant. All of these ingredients should be available at most U.S. supermarkets, some in the Asian foods section. The white pepper and sesame oil are the "secret" ingredients that seem to give the authentic taste.

                                                                                              Easy Chinese Hot and Sour Soup

                                                                                              4 cups of chicken broth
                                                                                              4 tablespoons soy sauce
                                                                                              1/4 cup cooked shredded chicken or pork (canned chicken ok)
                                                                                              1/2 cup drained canned mushrooms (type of your choice), sliced or diced
                                                                                              1/4 cup canned bamboo shoots, drained and julienned
                                                                                              1/2 tablespoon Thai Chili Garlic Sauce (Tabasco Sauce and a little garlic powder as a substitute is ok)
                                                                                              1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
                                                                                              2 tablespoons cornstarch and 2 tablespoons cold water
                                                                                              1 egg, beaten
                                                                                              3 oz firm tofu, cut into 1/4 inch dice
                                                                                              2 green onion stalks, diced (including green tops)
                                                                                              1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
                                                                                              1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

                                                                                              Bring chicken broth to a simmer in a 2-quart saucepan.
                                                                                              Add soy sauce, meat, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, Thai Chili Garlic Sauce and white pepper.
                                                                                              -Simmer for five minutes.
                                                                                              -Combine two tablespoons of cornstarch with two tablespoons of cold water in a cup. Stir until mixture is smooth. Add cornstarch mixture to soup and stir well.
                                                                                              -Simmer for 2 or 3 minutes until soup is thickened.
                                                                                              -Beat egg in a cup until yolk and white are combined. Pour beaten egg slowly, in a fine stream into soup. Stir soup several times.
                                                                                              -Wait 30 seconds.
                                                                                              -Add tofu and green onions to soup. Stir well. Remove from heat.
                                                                                              -Add distilled white vinegar and sesame oil.
                                                                                              -Stir a few times and serve.

                                                                                              Makes about 4 cups.

                                                                                              11 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: Antilope

                                                                                                Easy Panda Express Spicy Orange Chicken


                                                                                                Spicy Orange Sauce:
                                                                                                1-1/2 cups cold water
                                                                                                1/4 cup frozen orange juice concentrate
                                                                                                1 Tbsp orange zest
                                                                                                1/4 cup lemon juice
                                                                                                1/3 cup seasoned rice vinegar
                                                                                                3 Tbsp Soy sauce
                                                                                                1/2 tsp chili garlic sauce
                                                                                                1 cup brown sugar
                                                                                                1/2 tsp dried ground ginger
                                                                                                1/2 tsp garlic powder
                                                                                                1/8 to 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (to taste)
                                                                                                3 Tbsp chopped green onions including green tops

                                                                                                Sauce Thickener:
                                                                                                3 Tbsp cornstarch
                                                                                                3 Tbsp cold water


                                                                                                2 pounds cooked breaded chicken tenders - from frozen (prepare according
                                                                                                to package directions).


                                                                                                Mix Orange Sauce ingredients in saucepan. Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently.

                                                                                                Mix 3 Tbsp Cornstarch and 3 Tbsp cold water in a cup. Stir well to remove
                                                                                                any lumps.

                                                                                                Add cornstarch mixture to simmering Orange Sauce, stirring well.

                                                                                                Simmer for about 5-minutes, stirring frequenty, until orange sauce

                                                                                                Prepare breaded chicken tenders according to package instructions.

                                                                                                Serve Spicy Orange Sauce over cooked chicken tenders. Or serve along side
                                                                                                as a dipping sauce.

                                                                                                Makes about 3 cups of spicy orange sauce.

                                                                                                1. re: Antilope

                                                                                                  Chinese Restaurant Lemon Chicken

                                                                                                  This is my families favorite recipe for Chinese Restaurant Lemon Chicken.

                                                                                                  2 lbs chicken breast, raw, boneless, cut into strips

                                                                                                  2 Tbsp oyster sauce
                                                                                                  2 Tbsp cooking sherry (or chicken broth)
                                                                                                  2 Tbsp rice vinegar

                                                                                                  1/4 cup corn starch
                                                                                                  4 Tbsp cooking oil

                                                                                                  Mix oyster sauce, cooking sherry and rice vinegar.
                                                                                                  Marinate chicken in it for 1/2 hour

                                                                                                  Roll marinated chicken strips in cornstarch and saute
                                                                                                  in skillet using cooking oil, turning until golden brown.
                                                                                                  Make sure center of chicken is cook to at least 165-F.

                                                                                                  Lemon Sauce:
                                                                                                  1 cup chicken broth
                                                                                                  1/3 cup granulated white sugar
                                                                                                  1 Tbsp soy sauce
                                                                                                  2 Tbsp cornstarch
                                                                                                  1/3 cup lemon juice
                                                                                                  1 tsp lemon zest
                                                                                                  1 tsp sesame oil
                                                                                                  dash ground white pepper

                                                                                                  Stir together Lemon Sauce ingredients and mixwell.
                                                                                                  Simmer in a saucepan over medium heat for about 3 or 4 minutes
                                                                                                  until lemon sauce thickens and turns somewhat clear.

                                                                                                  Lemon Slices
                                                                                                  bed of lettuce leaves

                                                                                                  Place cooked chicken strips on bed of lettuce leaves,
                                                                                                  pour lemon sauce over chicken and garnish with lemon slices.

                                                                                                  1. re: Antilope

                                                                                                    Hot & Sour Soup....I just love these "Americanized" recipes. Chinese cooking always intimidated me with all those exotic ingredients & recipes like these are within my reach. Thanks so much for posting. Just did a grateful C&P (cut & paste).

                                                                                                    1. re: Antilope

                                                                                                      Chinese Style Steamed Pork Buns

                                                                                                      This is one of my favorite recipes. All of the ingredients
                                                                                                      may not be strickly authentic, but this turns out really good
                                                                                                      and I think it tastes just like what you get at a Chinese restaurant.


                                                                                                      Steamed Buns:
                                                                                                      1 1/2 cups warm water (95°F to 105°F)
                                                                                                      3 teaspoons active dry yeast (or 1 packet)
                                                                                                      3 tablespoons granulated white sugar
                                                                                                      4 cups all-purpose flour
                                                                                                      2 tablespoons cooking oil
                                                                                                      1 teaspoon baking powder
                                                                                                      1/2 teaspoon salt

                                                                                                      Bun Filling:
                                                                                                      1 cup (about 8 ounces) shredded already cooked pulled pork or chicken (canned ok)
                                                                                                      1/2 cup barbeque sauce
                                                                                                      1 tablespoon soy sauce
                                                                                                      1 tablespoon cooking oil
                                                                                                      1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
                                                                                                      1 tablespoon teriyaki sauce
                                                                                                      1 teaspoon garlic chili sauce
                                                                                                      1/4 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
                                                                                                      1/4 teaspoon toasted sesame oil


                                                                                                      Steamed Buns:
                                                                                                      1. Stir yeast and 1 tablespoon of sugar into 1-1/2 cups of warm water (95°F to 105°F). Let stand for 15-minutes.

                                                                                                      2. Mix yeast water, 2 more tablespoons of sugar, flour, cooking oil, baking powder and salt in mixing bowl. Stir until dough forms.

                                                                                                      3. Knead dough for 10-minutes.

                                                                                                      4. Allow dough to rise in a warm place for 1-1/2 hours.

                                                                                                      5. Punch dough down and divide into 12 pieces.

                                                                                                      6. Roll each piece of dough into a ball, then flatten into a 6-inch circle.

                                                                                                      7. Place about 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of meat mixture in center of dough and pull dough up over filling and pinch seams closed to form filled bun.

                                                                                                      8. Place buns on individual 4-inch x 4-inch pieces of parchment paper.

                                                                                                      9. Allow to rise in warm place 1 hour, until doubled in size.

                                                                                                      10. Steam buns, in steamer, over boiling water for 20-minutes or use electric steamer.

                                                                                                      11. Remove from steamer. When cool enough to handle, remove parchment paper from bottom.

                                                                                                      12. Serve warm.

                                                                                                      Bun Filling:
                                                                                                      1. Place all ingredients in food processor.

                                                                                                      2. Process until ingredients are blended and chopped fine.

                                                                                                      3. Use 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of mixture per bun.

                                                                                                      Makes 12 steamed pork buns

                                                                                                      1. re: Antilope

                                                                                                        Panda Express Fried Rice

                                                                                                        1 cup regular long grain Rice, uncooked
                                                                                                        2 cups water
                                                                                                        2 eggs, beaten
                                                                                                        3 Tbsp butter, divided use
                                                                                                        1 cup frozen green peas and carrots, thawed
                                                                                                        2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
                                                                                                        1/4 tsp Sesame oil
                                                                                                        1/8 tsp ground white pepper, or to taste
                                                                                                        table salt to taste
                                                                                                        1 green onion, diced into pea sized bits, including green tops

                                                                                                        In a covered saucepan on the stove top, bring 2 cups of water to a
                                                                                                        boil. When the water reaches a full boil, stir in the rice. Stir to
                                                                                                        bottom of pan to make sure all rice is moistened and not sticking on
                                                                                                        the bottom of pan in lumps. Return water to a boil. Reduce heat to a very
                                                                                                        low simmer, replace pan lid and cook for 20-minutes. After 20-minutes,
                                                                                                        remove rice from saucepan and place in large bowl to cool. Makes about
                                                                                                        2 cups of cooked rice.

                                                                                                        Scramble eggs in skillet on stove top with 1 Tbsp of butter. After they
                                                                                                        are cooked, chop the scrambled eggs into pea size bits with spatula.

                                                                                                        After the rice has cooled in bowl, stir in the chopped scrambled eggs,
                                                                                                        and thawed peas and carrots. Toss lightly until mixed uniformly.

                                                                                                        Melt 2 Tbsp of butter over medium heat in a large skillet on the stove top.

                                                                                                        When the butter is melted and heated, add the rice mixture to the skilled.

                                                                                                        Mix the soy sauce with sesame oil in a cup and sprinkle evenly over rice
                                                                                                        mixture in skillet.

                                                                                                        Saute rice mixture for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring and turning frequently
                                                                                                        with a spatula.

                                                                                                        When done, season with ground white pepper and table salt to taste.

                                                                                                        Place in large serving bowl and garnish top with green onions.

                                                                                                        Serve warm.

                                                                                                        Makes about 3 cups.

                                                                                                        1. re: Antilope

                                                                                                          Panda fried are a dear for sharing these oh so simple dishes...where in the world are you finding them? I cannot begin to thank you enough for sharing. Every recipe is going in my Chinese take out folder.

                                                                                                          1. re: cstout

                                                                                                            Me too, what a generous contribution. Thank you Antilope!! Did you develop these, or find the recipes somewhere?

                                                                                                            1. re: mamachef

                                                                                                              These are recipes that I have developed after looking at a lot of recipes online and then trial and error trying to duplicate what I got from take out..

                                                                                                              1. re: Antilope

                                                                                                                Well, you certainly dedicated a lot of time & effort in developing these recipes...we reap the benefits of your labors. Each one sounds delicious & simple (the makings of a perfect recipe, if you ask me).

                                                                                                                Have you developed others like these? I enjoy foreign flavors, but do not want to purchase a lot of hard to find ingredients or fancy equipment.

                                                                                                                Come to think of it, I don't want to do that for any recipe. If you have others you would like to share, we would all greatly appreciate it.

                                                                                                                1. re: cstout

                                                                                                                  Panda Express Eggplant Tofu

                                                                                                                  2 Tbsp cooking oil
                                                                                                                  1 (12 oz) package of firm tofu, cut into 1 inch x 1/2 inch chunks
                                                                                                                  2 Tbsp sesame oil
                                                                                                                  1/2 medium size yellow or white onion, peeled and cut into small chunks
                                                                                                                  1 tsp minced garlic
                                                                                                                  1/2 red bell pepper, seeds and stem removed, cut into chunks
                                                                                                                  2 or 3 small eggplants, stem removed, cut into 1/2-inch by 1-inch slices, with peel
                                                                                                                  2 Tbsp oyster sauce
                                                                                                                  1 tsp chili garlic sauce
                                                                                                                  a pinch of white pepper, or to taste
                                                                                                                  1 tsp granulated sugar

                                                                                                                  Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in skillet or wok, fry and stir tofu until golden brown
                                                                                                                  on all sides, remove from pan and set aside until needed.

                                                                                                                  Heat 2 Tbsp sesame oil, saute onion, garlic and red bell pepper until fragrant.

                                                                                                                  Add the oyster sauce, chili garlic sauce, white pepper, sugar and eggplant.
                                                                                                                  Mix well and cover. Cook until eggplant is tender.

                                                                                                                  Add back to pan the browned tofu, mix and let it warm through for another minute, uncovered.

                                                                                                                  Serve while warm.