A Beginners Guide to Chinese Cookery



When I first ate Chinese meals within the UK inside the Seventies, it become clearly quite unappealing. Everything got here in a gloopy sauce and seemed to flavor the same, due to the overuse of monosodium glutamate, supposedly a flavour enhancer but in fact, not anything of the sort. Then inside the 1980s a brand new breed of Chinese restaurant arrived (at the least it took that long to attain the provinces) which provided lighter, tastier Chinese cooking demonstrating nearby variations. There changed into one disadvantage, but, which was that this new type of restaurant was tons extra high-priced than the unique reasonably-priced ‘n tasteless ones. Consequently, I notion how excellent it would be to prepare dinner Chinese meals at home however I had no idea in which to begin until BBC TV got here to my rescue inside the form of Ken Hom, america-born chef of Cantonese mother and father.

Ken provided Chinese delicacies in such an easily-comprehensible way, demonstrating strategies and suggesting opportunity substances have to the originals no longer be to be had in your neighborhood supermarket. The e-book which accompanied the series, Ken Hom’s Chinese Cookery have become my bible and I nonetheless have my replica, pages stained with oil drips and smears of sauce.

To help you in your way to cooking Chinese meals at domestic, I’m going to in short describe the primary equipment, ingredients and strategies that you need to know so you can produce some easy and attractive dishes. I wish you enjoy the thing and that it conjures up you to get cooking!


Although there are many implements and pieces of gadget you can purchase, to begin on the road to cooking your own Chinese meals, you actually best want an awesome knife or two and a wok. Woks are available in all styles and sizes, they may be non-stick, flat-bottomed, they are able to even be electric nowadays however I nevertheless prefer my old carbon metallic wok with it’s rounded backside and one wooden cope with. This is a Pau wok. These are simply available in Chinese supermarkets and are plenty less highly-priced than other types. There is one critical mission even though, before you’ll be prepared to cook dinner with this kind of wok and that is to season it. You will want to clean it with a cream purifier to put off any residues of system oil and dry it carefully. Put the wok on the hob over a low warmth. Rub the inside of the wok with tablespoons of cooking oil using kitchen towel. Let the wok warmth slowly for 10 to fifteen mins then wipe the interior with more kitchen towel. The paper will come away black. Carry on coating, heating and cleansing off until the kitchen towel comes away easy. Your wok is now geared up to apply. After use, wash simplest in water without detergent and dry thoroughly over a low warmness. You may also practice a bit oil in case you want. This must prevent the wok from rusting however if it does expand rust, simply scrub and season once more.

As properly as the wok, you’ll need a wok stand, mainly if you have an electric powered hob. This keeps the wok solid if you are the use of it for braising or deep frying.

You may even need some thing to stir with – any spatula, slice or slotted spoon will do – steel for a metallic wok and plastic or timber for a non-stick wok.


Before you rush out and buy up the complete Chinese phase at the grocery store, undergo in thoughts that a few components don’t preserve nicely if left unused. Just select something simple from your preferred cookery e book and buy the things that you need for that then you may amplify your choice as you progress thru special dishes.

Some commonplace shop-cupboard substances that you may nearly absolutely need are darkish and light soy sauce, some type of cooking oil and sesame oil, cornflour and rice wine or sherry. For more records, see my article Chinese Cooking – Ingredients and Equipment.



The most well known Chinese cooking approach is stir-frying. This is wherein your wok comes into its very own because it’s form and size (as a minimum 14 inches diameter with deep aspects) is good for short cooking. The secret to successful stir-frying is to have all your ingredients ready earlier.

Meat have to be cut in keeping with the recipe but normally in skinny strips. Vegetables likewise but in any event ought to be of similar shapes and sizes to make certain even cooking. Long thin greens which include spring onions, carrots or asparagus are often cut on the diagonal in order that extra surface area is exposed for quicker cooking. Measure out sauce elements – check the recipe – if they’re all introduced to the dish at the equal time, you can positioned them multi function small bowl. If cornflour is included, don’t forget to offer it a very good stir before including to the alternative food.

Once you have got everything prepared, heat your wok till it is particularly warm then add oil and the use of your chosen stirring put in force make certain that the oil is flippantly dispensed over the surface of the wok. Before you upload your substances. The wok have to be so warm that it’s miles almost smoking – this could prevent the food from being greasy. The exception to that is in case you are flavouring your oil with garlic, chilli, spring onions, ginger or salt – those will burn if the oil is too warm.

Now upload your different substances inside the order said in the recipe and toss them over the surface of the wok making sure that nothing rests in one area for too long and shifting the meals from the centre of the wok to the sides. I propose which you put on an apron or other protective clothing for this operation because the food often spits due to the excessive temperature it is cooked at.

Deep Frying

You can use your wok for deep frying but be very cautious that it’s far competently balanced on its stand. Under no instances leave it unattended. Deep frying in a wok makes use of much less oil than a deep fryer or saucepan but you can locate those safer and less complicated to apply.

When deep frying, make sure that the oil is warm sufficient before adding substances or the food will grow to be very greasy. Test it through losing in a small piece of prepared meals or a dice of bread. If the oil bubbles up around what you dropped in then it’s hot enough.

Make sure that meals to be deep fried is dried thoroughly on kitchen paper or drained of its marinade before cooking otherwise it’s going to spit.

Shallow Frying

This is the same as the Western technique. Fry food on one side, then the alternative and drain off any extra oil before adding sauce substances. A everyday frying pan is quality for this.


Steaming is widely used in Chinese cookery. You can use a bamboo steamer in a wok, a heat-proof plate located on a rack in a wok or other huge pan or you could use a everyday European steamer.

If the usage of a bamboo steamer or plate in a wok, bring about 2 inches of water to a simmer. Put your rack into the wok (if the bamboo steamer is big enough and will sit down on the perimeters of the wok with out being within the water, you don’t need a rack) and balance your plate or steamer of food on it. Put the lid in your steamer or wok and check sometimes to peer if the water needs topping up (use water which is already hot).

Whichever approach you use, ensure that the meals is above the water degree and isn’t getting wet.


As with Western cooking, braising is used for harder cuts of meat and entails gentle cooking of meat and/or veggies in flavoured stock. Red-braising is the approach wherein meals is braised in a darkish liquid including soy sauce which offers the meals a crimson/brown shade. This sort of braising sauce can be frozen and re-used.

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