Five Recipes to Make You an Authentic Chinese Cook

April was a delight. She loved to cook, loved food.  She had served a mission in Hong Kong and had lived in China.

And oh, did she make great Chinese.

She taught some classes for us and developed some recipes.  Now we would like to share those recipes with you. But before we get into the recipes, let’s look at a couple primers for making stir fries and rice.  (Let me give credit: Casey Archibald helped me with these primers.)

How to Stir Fry

  1. 1. It’s all about the heat. If you want your stir fry to taste amazing, pay close attention to the heat. Heat the wok till it is smoking a little, then add oil, garlic, oyster sauce, salt, and the meat.
  2. 2. Don’t wash the wok between steps. After cooking your meat, take it out and place it in a holding dish. Cook the veggies with some water in the same wok, no need wash.
  3. Use the right tool to stir. A Chinese ladle or a wok spatula is best, but if you don’t have either of those a heat-resistant spatula is second best.
  4. Use the right size of wok. The size of wok you use depends on how much you’re cooking. Just make sure you consider the size of your recipe before selecting a wok.
  5. Be careful when you wash your wok. Never use soap when washing your wok hot. Just rinse it off, wipe it down and you’re done.

How to Cook Rice Properly

  1. Wash your rice before you cook it. Rinse the rice using a strainer until the water comes out clear, not milky.
  2. If you are cooking your rice on a stovetop, measure it using your index finger. (I always used a measuring cup with two cups water to one cup rice but I like Casey’s quick trick here.) Level the rice in the pot so there is a relatively flat surface. Touch the surface of the rice with your index finger (do not sink it into the rice) and pour in enough water to come up to the crease on your finger opposite the first knuckle. Cover your pot with a lid and cook until boiling.
  3. Bring the rice to a boil, then turn the burner on low heat. You can tell when the rice is almost done when the sides no longer look like they are covered in glue. Take the rice off the burner, remove the lid and let it sit for a few minutes. It will continue to cook it the hot pan.

Common Issues with Cooking Rice and How to Fix them:

The rice is burnt to the bottom. The flame or burner was left on high for too long. The slower the rice cooks, the better. Knowing how long to cook the rice is not about the time, it is about how it looks. The rice should be fluffy and soft, not lumpy or watery.

The rice is too crunchy. This means you didn’t add enough water or give the rice enough time to cook. Remember, measure the water to your first knuckle; it always works.

Five Recipes for Chinese Cooking

Recipe #1: Orange Chicken.  This is the orange chicken that you are familiar with in most Chinese restaurants.  It’s crispy and coated with a sweet orange sauce.

Recipe #2: Lemon Chicken. This is wonderful lemon chicken!  It’s not hard but the secret is the double-dipping before cooking.  The lemon sauce is fantastic and authentic.

Recipe #3: Fried Rice. Fried rice is quick and easy to make; it only takes minutes to convert steamed rice to fried rice.  The sesame oil adds a nutty-like flavor, much more flavorful than vegetable oil. 

Recipe #4: Egg Rolls.  Buy egg roll wrappers at the store and pick up some Mandarin Orange Sauce or other Asian sauce.  Then this is an easy three-step recipe.  

Recipe #5: Shrimp and Pork Egg Rolls.  You can bake these egg rolls or deep fry them.  If shrimp and pork together seems a bit much, substitute one for the other.