So I’ve been roped into writing another blog. Last time I was writing about wacky shrimp-charmers and typical Chinese benevolence but I’m toning it all down a bit in an attempt to brandish my questionable cooking talent. However, do not fear these recipes, for they have earned critical acclaim from seasoned pundits such as my ex-flatmate and anosmic sausage-dog. What’s more is that I present an opportunity to make friends with your local veg-stall owner. Just visit every day and say ‘shēng yì xīng lóng’ after you’ve paid and you’ll be friends for life.
Perhaps I should stop flaunting my credentials get on with what you came here for.
Dish One – Egg Fried Rice
‘It sounds boring!’ I hear you cry. “It’s too easy!” you moan. Pfft. Don’t you remember the social sec from that questionable university rugby club telling you not to knock something until you’ve tried it?
- Egg, obviously. You’re going to need 2-5 of these, depending on how much you hit the gym.
- Rice. Try to scale this with the number of eggs you’ve used.
- Some kind of oil to grease your wok. I use peanut oil because it’s the cheapest.
- Vegetables. Normally I go with a solitary carrot because I’m boring, but you should try adding broccoli, pak choi or cauliflower. If you’re feeling really adventurous then add all four.
- Soy sauce, obviously. This is China after all.
- Sesame oil. This is the secret ingredient that sets apart the Jamie Olivers from the normal Olivers.
Start by getting your rice cooker on the go. While she’s doing the hard work for you, chop up your vegetables into little chunks and crack open your eggs into a small bowl. Then, fry the veg in your wok on a medium/high heat in some oil.
Once those seedless fruits are looking nice and cooked turn down the heat to low/medium and throw in the eggs. Be sure to give them a good whacking with a wooden spoon. Beat them until it looks like that scene from Team America when the hero-guy comes out of the pub.
Now you need to add in the rice. Make sure that it isn’t all mushy with water then throw it into the wok. Pour some soy sauce over it and stir it in. Usually you’ll need about 10-20mL of soy sauce, but you’ll soon work out how strong you like your flavours. Finally, pour some sesame oil into the wok and mix that in too. About 3-5mL is all you need.
And voila! That took about 15 minutes.
Dish Two – Chicken Stir Fry
This is my signature dish in China. My old housemates back home in England know how proud I was of my first bhuna and others find my bolognese irresistible. However, China isn’t fond of curry and you’ll pay a lot of money to cook yourself a proper bolognese so I’ll try to keep on topic.
- Chicken. Cluck cluck.
- Rice or noodles. This is a great opportunity because you can disguise this single recipe as two by using either carbohydrate base.
- Carrots. Feel free to add other vegetables but the carrots are the best thing about this dish.
- Ginger. You’ll need about 5cm of this, maybe more. Who knows? You’ll find out how much you like soon enough.
- Garlic. While we’re on the subject, anyone reading who hasn’t been to China might be interested to know that the Chinese like to munch on whole garlic cloves. You’ll need about three for this dish.
- Soy sauce. You’ll work out how much you need.
- Oil. Again, I use peanut oil because it’s the cheapest.
- Honey (not essential).
- Peanut butter (not essential).
- Peanuts (not essential).
Choose if you want rice or noodles. Prepare them but wait until later to cook.
Slice and dice your chicken and slap it into a moderately oiled wok. You don’t want to turn on the heat yet unless you like your chicken black. Wash your chopping board if you don’t have access to another and use it to chop your carrots. Slice them into 1cm thick batons, wash them and leave them aside. Turn on the chicken to a medium heat. Then start chopping up the ginger and garlic into tiny pieces. A big meaty cleaver helps with this. The smaller the better. You’ll see what I mean.
Somewhere in the middle of chopping up the ginger and garlic you’ll hear a mysterious voice whisper in your ear: ‘don’t forget to turn on the rice’. This will only occur if you chose to cook rice. Obey the voice.
When the chicken is almost cooked, which is usually when you’ve just peeled the garlic and ginger, put your carrots in the wok. If you’re cooking noodles, boil the water now.
When you feel like you can’t be bothered to chop ginger and garlic anymore, put them in the wok and turn the flame up high. I try to make some room in the middle of the wok and put them there, adding the soy sauce at the same time. I find that the flavours come out better when it’s been blasted with heat. Leave it for about 15 seconds and then stir it all in. After a few minutes I like to pick the wok up and toss the ingredients up into the air and catch them again in the wok. (I actually do this with the lid on but it’s still good practice). Finally, add a squirty of honey and a spoony of peanut butter. Stir it like that rumour you spread about Tom and Lucy back in ‘08.
If your choice was noodles, start cooking them now. They need about one or two minutes. If you chose rice, it should be cooked by now. Put it in a bowl and add a little bit of soy sauce. I like to add the noodles to the wok and stir fry them with some extra soy sauce.
About now everything should be ready. Just serve it up. Garnish with peanuts to add extra protein and a new crunchy texture.
And that’s it! Another just-satisfactory blog that has slipped through the editor’s occasionally slippery net.