A Beginners Guide to Chinese Cookery



After I first ate Chinese language language meals throughout the UK throughout the Nineteen Seventies, it was really pretty unappealing. The whole thing obtained right here in a gloopy sauce and appeared to type the an identical, due to the overuse of monosodium glutamate, supposedly a flavour enhancer nevertheless in reality, nothing of the type. Then throughout the Eighties a model new breed of Chinese language language restaurant arrived (on the very least it took that prolonged to reach the provinces) which equipped lighter, tastier Chinese language language cooking demonstrating regional variations. There was one draw back, nonetheless, which was that this new type of restaurant was far more expensive than the distinctive low-cost ‘n tasteless ones. Consequently, I believed how good will probably be to arrange dinner Chinese language language meals at residence nevertheless I had no idea the place to begin out until BBC TV obtained right here to my rescue throughout the type of Ken Hom, the USA-born chef of Cantonese dad and mother.

Ken launched Chinese language language delicacies in such an easily-understandable technique, demonstrating strategies and suggesting completely different components should the originals not be accessible in your native grocery retailer. The e-book which accompanied the gathering, Ken Hom’s Chinese language language Cookery turned my bible and I nonetheless have my copy, pages stained with oil drips and smears of sauce.

That may help you in your approach to cooking Chinese language language meals at residence, I’m going to briefly describe the important instruments, components and strategies which it’s advisable to know with the intention to supply some straightforward and engaging dishes. I hope you profit from the article and that it conjures up you to get cooking!


Although there are a whole lot of implements and gadgets of package you should buy, to begin out on the road to cooking your private Chinese language language meals, you really solely need an excellent knife or two and a wok. Woks can be found in all configurations and dimensions, they’re typically non-stick, flat-bottomed, they are going to even be electrical right this moment nevertheless I nonetheless need my outdated carbon metallic wok with it’s rounded bottom and one wooden cope with. It’s a Pau wok. These can be found in Chinese language language supermarkets and are loads cheaper than completely different varieties. There could also be one obligatory job though, sooner than you’ll be able to be capable to put together dinner with such a wok and that is to season it. It’s important to to scrub it with a cream cleaner to remove any residues of machine oil and dry it rigorously. Put the wok on the hob over a low heat. Rub the inside of the wok with two tablespoons of cooking oil using kitchen towel. Let the wok heat slowly for 10 to fifteen minutes then wipe the inside with further kitchen towel. The paper will come away black. Carry on coating, heating and cleaning off until the kitchen towel comes away clear. Your wok is now ready to utilize. After use, wash solely in water with out detergent and dry completely over a low heat. You may also apply barely oil if you would like. This might forestall the wok from rusting however when it does develop rust, merely scrub and season as soon as extra.

Along with the wok, you may want a wok stand, considerably if in case you will have {an electrical} hob. This retains the wok regular in case you’re using it for braising or deep frying.

Moreover, you will have one factor to stir with – any spatula, slice or slotted spoon will do – metallic for a metallic wok and plastic or wooden for a non-stick wok.


Sooner than you rush out and buy up the whole Chinese language language half on the grocery retailer, take into account that some components don’t protect properly if left unused. Merely select one factor straightforward out of your chosen cookery e-book and buy the problems that you just simply need for that then you can develop your alternative as you progress by utterly completely different dishes.

Some frequent store-cupboard components that you’re going to nearly positively need are darkish and light-weight soy sauce, some kind of cooking oil and sesame oil, cornflour and rice wine or sherry. For further data, see my article Chinese language language Cooking – Substances and Gear.



Basically essentially the most well-known Chinese language language cooking technique is stir-frying. That’s the place your wok comes into its private as a result of it’s type and dimension (on the very least 14 inches diameter with deep sides) is sweet for quick cooking. The important thing to worthwhile stir-frying is to have all your components ready upfront.

Meat must be decrease based mostly on the recipe nevertheless often in skinny strips. Greens likewise nevertheless in any event must be of comparable configurations and dimensions to verify even cooking. Prolonged skinny greens akin to spring onions, carrots or asparagus are typically decrease on the diagonal so that further ground area is uncovered for sooner cooking. Measure out sauce components – take a look at the recipe – in the event that they’re all added to the dish on the an identical time, you can put them multi purposeful small bowl. If cornflour is included, don’t neglect to supply it an excellent stir sooner than together with to the other meals.

Upon getting each little factor prepared, heat your wok until it’s vitally scorching then add oil and using your chosen stirring implement make sure that the oil is evenly distributed over the ground of the wok. Sooner than you add your components. the wok must be so scorching that it is nearly smoking – this will forestall the meals from being greasy. The exception to that’s in case you’re flavouring your oil with garlic, chilli, spring onions, ginger or salt – these will burn if the oil is just too scorching.

Now add your completely different components throughout the order acknowledged throughout the recipe and toss them over the ground of the wok guaranteeing that nothing rests in a single place for too prolonged and transferring the meals from the centre of the wok to the perimeters. I like to recommend that you just simply placed on an apron or completely different defending garments for this operation as a result of the meals often spits due to the extreme temperature it is cooked at.

Deep Frying

You could use your wok for deep frying nevertheless be very cautious that it is safely balanced on its stand. Actually not depart it unattended. Deep frying in a wok makes use of a lot much less oil than a deep fryer or saucepan nevertheless likelihood is you may uncover these safer and less complicated to utilize.

When deep frying, be sure that the oil is scorching ample sooner than together with components or the meals will end up very greasy. Check out it by dropping in a small piece of prepared meals or a cube of bread. If the oil bubbles up spherical what you dropped in then it’s scorching ample.

Make certain that meals to be deep fried is dried completely on kitchen paper or drained of its marinade sooner than cooking in another case it ought to spit.

Shallow Frying

That is related as a result of the Western technique. Fry meals on one side, then the other and drain off any further oil sooner than together with sauce components. A standard frying pan is okay for this.


Steaming is broadly utilized in Chinese language language cookery. You could use a bamboo steamer in a wok, a heat-proof plate positioned on a rack in a wok or completely different large pan or you must make the most of a normal European steamer.

If using a bamboo steamer or plate in a wok, end in 2 inches of water to a simmer. Put your rack into the wok (if the bamboo steamer is giant sufficient and may sit on the perimeters of the wok with out being throughout the water, you don’t need a rack) and steadiness your plate or steamer of meals on it. Put the lid in your steamer or wok and take a look at typically to see if the water desires topping up (use water which is already scorching).

Whichever methodology you make the most of, be sure that the meals is above the water diploma and isn’t getting moist.


As with Western cooking, braising is used for extra sturdy cuts of meat and contains delicate cooking of meat and/or greens in flavoured stock. Pink-braising is the strategy the place meals is braised in a darkish liquid akin to soy sauce which offers the meals a purple/brown coloration. Any such braising sauce can be frozen and re-used.

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