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 Doing decent Chinese food at home?

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  • Total Posts: 48
  • Joined: 1/17/2007
  • Location: South Island, New Zealand
Doing decent Chinese food at home? Fri, 06/17/11 7:36 AM (permalink)
Hi Folks,
I've been gifted a Wok, from a mate of mine, it's been in use for a few years.
Any thoughts on how you cook with a wok?
We (missus and I) used to do a bit of stir-fry back in the early 90's with an electric wok but it was only ever used for fried rice.
Some sort of recipes would be cool.
Any thoughts on the best sort of oil to use with a wok?
Mike T.

    • Total Posts: 942
    • Joined: 4/1/2008
    • Location: Syracuse, NY
    Re:Doing decent Chinese food at home? Fri, 06/17/11 9:53 AM (permalink)
    Woks are meant to be used with high heat, fast cooking. You should use an oil that has a high smoke point... peanut oil, sesame oil, soybean oil to name a few.

      • Total Posts: 3303
      • Joined: 12/13/2003
      • Location: Near Grand Rapids, MI
      Re:Doing decent Chinese food at home? Fri, 06/17/11 12:46 PM (permalink)
      This is one I came up with a while ago that always goes over well.

      Soy-Sesame Beef Stir-Fry
      1 1/2 lb. beef steak (your choice, I use sirloin)
      1 cup chopped green pepper
      1 cup baby carrots, halved lengthwise (or quartered, depending on size)
      1 cup chopped celery
      1 cup sliced mushrooms
      3 garlic cloves, minced
      1 (8 oz.) can sliced water chestnuts, drained
      1 tablespoon butter
      1/4 cup low-sodium, low-fat chicken broth
      1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
      2 teaspoons rice vinegar
      2 teaspoons roasted sesame oil
      3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
      1 teaspoon sugar
      2 tablespoons flour
      Chop all the vegetables first, you won't have time if you start cooking first.
      Cut the steak into bite-sized pieces, or strips against the grain if you prefer. In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix sauce ingredients together well with a whisk.
      In a wok or huge skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat until very hot, then add the garlic, onion, and steak pieces. Stir-fry 3-5 minutes, until meat is mostly browned.
      Add all the vegetables; stir-fry 2-3 minutes. Pour the sauce over the entire pan, and continue stir-frying another 5-10 minutes, until steak is desired done-ness and vegetables are crisp-tender.
      Serve over rice.
      Serves 4

        • Total Posts: 3303
        • Joined: 12/13/2003
        • Location: Near Grand Rapids, MI
        Re:Doing decent Chinese food at home? Fri, 06/17/11 12:53 PM (permalink)
        This one is from the Diabetic Lifestyle website, but it certainly isn't lacking for flavour or presentation.
        Stir-Fry Pork with Rice

        1 tablespoon olive oil
        2 large garlic cloves, minced
        1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
        1 large onion, thinly sliced
        4 large mushroom caps, cleaned and sliced
        4 scallions, white part and 4 inches green, cut into 2-inch pieces
        1 pounds boneless center-cut pork loin chop, trimmed of all fat and cut into thin strips
        2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
        1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
        2 teaspoons cornstarch
        1 cup fat-free low-sodium chicken broth
        2 cups hot cooked long-grain rice
        Heat 1/2 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet or wok over high heat.
        When hot, add garlic, ginger, onion, mushrooms, and scallion. Stir-fry for 4 to 5 minutes, until vegetables are limp.
        Transfer to a heated platter; keep warm.
        In a small cup, stir together the soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, and cornstarch until cornstarch dissolves.
        Add the remaining olive oil to the skillet and distribute the pork over the bottom of the skillet. Stir-fry until pork is browned on both sides (about 4 minutes). Return onion-mushroom mixture to the skillet.
        Add the broth to the skillet, then stir in the soy sauce-cornstarch mixture. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally until mixture comes to a boil and sauce thickens slightly.
        Serve over rice with a spring of cilantro for garnish, if you want.
        Serves 4
          the ancient mariner

          • Total Posts: 3987
          • Joined: 4/6/2004
          • Location: st petersburg, florida
          Re:Doing decent Chinese food at home? Fri, 06/17/11 4:26 PM (permalink)
          Mike my boy, are you related to the famous Donald by any chance?
          Here is a web-site I found when I bought a new WOK recently.
          It has no recipes, but it teaches you how to use the work for many things besides stir frying.  I use mine for steaming all the time and for deep frying
          as well.  It's afun thing to use once you get the hang of it. 
          Which is better Australian, NZ or American lamb?

          Have fun mate.

            • Total Posts: 1286
            • Joined: 11/29/2005
            • Location: South FL
            Re:Doing decent Chinese food at home? Fri, 06/17/11 6:59 PM (permalink)
            Unfortunately, you're not going to get Chinese Restaurant tasting food at home using a regular stove burner and consumer grade wok. Principle to the taste is the carmelizing of the vegetables that can only happen under tremendous heat to get that taste and crisp vegetables. Even the home appliance versions of gas woks don't deliver the necessary BTU's to do this. The closest you can come to this at home is to purchase an outdoor high pressure propane burner around 100K BTU/h or greater and do your stir fry outside. Don't even think of this inside a residence as you'd need ventilation, fire supression, and shrouding to withstand the blast furnace level heat, not to mention it would be against most building codes and your insurer would cancel you in a heartbeat. 

              • Total Posts: 1137
              • Joined: 8/4/2005
              • Location: New Orleans, LA
              Re:Doing decent Chinese food at home? Fri, 06/17/11 7:21 PM (permalink)
              I just got this book from our local library - Grace Young - Stir-Frying to the Edge: The Ultimate Guide to Mastery With Authentic Recipes and Stories.
              Lots of information for care and seasoning of wok, in addition to basic recipes, and what I like are suggestions for brands to use when preparing the recipes.  My problem has been finding a 14" carbon steel wok that without a non-stick  coating.  Even a large Oriental market near me doesn't carry them.  Using a deep skillet, I did make a stir fry with fresh ginger, mushrooms, broccoli and beef, that was good, but decided I'd rather make something with shrimp, pork, or chicken over the beef. 

                • Total Posts: 1286
                • Joined: 11/29/2005
                • Location: South FL
                Re:Doing decent Chinese food at home? Fri, 06/17/11 7:59 PM (permalink)
                I'm surprised about the large, cs woks not being available in an Asian market there.
                One thing that I've learned that's most important is the uniformity of the vegetable cuts for pre-prep. Learning to use a chinese cleaver for you preparation and getting a good fitting wok spatula is a good idea too. Also you really need the right ingredients that are Asian market specific such as dark soy, true light soy (Pearl River Superior is great and found the world over), shaoxing rice wine, sesame oil (as seasoning) Hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce as part of your arsenal. Peanut oil is best, but it's also good to learn some basic infusion techniques to make your seasoned, wok oil. You're also going to need to learn some basic preparation techniques such as feathering for your meats and making cold rice. This is like a symphony where much preparation comes together in a grand moment with you as a conductor. If you can spend some time in a class or watching some videos of actual chefs preparing and cooking, it's an altering experience learning the philosophy and techniques that developed independently from the cooking of the west.

                  • Total Posts: 3303
                  • Joined: 12/13/2003
                  • Location: Near Grand Rapids, MI
                  Re:Doing decent Chinese food at home? Fri, 06/17/11 8:36 PM (permalink)
                  Wow...I did not get the impression he was looking to become a four-star Asian chef. Not that he couldn't, but I was approaching this from the standpoint of food he could make at home that would taste good.

                    • Total Posts: 1286
                    • Joined: 11/29/2005
                    • Location: South FL
                    Re:Doing decent Chinese food at home? Fri, 06/17/11 8:54 PM (permalink)
                    He said he wants to do decent chinese food at home. You 'hain't going to do that that in a skillet using products that you buy in a regular grocery store on a regular stove. That's indecent.

                      • Total Posts: 3666
                      • Joined: 11/30/2005
                      • Location: Marriottsville, MD
                      Re:Doing decent Chinese food at home? Fri, 06/17/11 8:57 PM (permalink)
                      I make wonderful Chinese food at home not know what you are talking  about.

                        • Total Posts: 3303
                        • Joined: 12/13/2003
                        • Location: Near Grand Rapids, MI
                        Re:Doing decent Chinese food at home? Fri, 06/17/11 9:29 PM (permalink)
                        Exactly, Greymo. Does it taste exactly like what I get at a Chinese restaurant? Nope. Is it still decent, tasty, and do people ask me to make it for them? Absolutely. It is possible to make decent food that is not what is served in a restaurant.
                        Besides which, mine isn't loaded with MSG, and mostly uses farm-fresh vegetables.

                          • Total Posts: 9574
                          • Joined: 9/1/2006
                          • Location: Gilbert, AZ
                          Re:Doing decent Chinese food at home? Sat, 06/18/11 3:12 AM (permalink)
                          This guy cooks all my Chinese food at home. It's a great story of building an empire from scratch. Worth the read to all you budding food entrepreneurs.

                            • Total Posts: 967
                            • Joined: 3/1/2008
                            • Location: Minneapolis, MN
                            Re:Doing decent Chinese food at home? Mon, 06/20/11 12:59 PM (permalink)
                            I've had excellent results following recipes from Martin Yan's cookbooks, especially the first one, "The Chinese Chef," which was a tie-in to his original show on PBS.
                            The chicken almond ding is a reasonable facsimile of the kind you'd get in a GOOD Chinese-American restaurant.  And there's a wonderful recipe for baby bok choy with two kinds of mushrooms, too.
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