I was trying to make my inbox a little less terrifying today, and stumbled upon this email my mother sent me a few months ago when I was first panicking slightly about how exactly to cook (trust me, there is really no need to panic) – super-simple ideas for when you want Chinese food and aren’t sure what to make. (The salmon thing isn’t quite as Chinese.)
Most of these one-liners are an “intuitive recipe” (I’ll write more about this later) for a common dish you’ll see in Chinese households. Well, I guess the Coke one is kind of weird, but the rest are pretty standard at my house, at least. They contain the essence of the recipe, but may be inscrutable to someone unfamiliar with Chinese food, so for some of them I’ve added in italics the cooking technique(s) needed and a picture of what a finished dish might look like (if you click on the photo, you’ll get to the original image). Each is also followed by a link to a Chinese recipe website (content in Chinese, but there are photos) that goes into more detail.
I should also mention at this point something absolutely crucial to Chinese stir-frying: do not use olive oil. I know it’s a favorite with non-Chinese cooks. Don’t use it. Southern Chinese food in particular is about enhancing ingredients, not masking them. Overmanipulation is a sin. Olive oil is a) unsuitable for extremely high heat, e.g. what is used in stir-frying, and b) leaves a bad taste and texture that overpowers the food.
Cold garlic and cucumber salad (凉拌蒜蓉黄瓜)
- Slice cucumber; chop garlic; pepper, salt, sesame oil. The linked recipe includes salt and vinegar; I [my mum] don’t think this is necessary. Mix well and let sit for a while.
Scrambled eggs and tomato (西红柿炒鸡蛋)
- Egg, tomato, salt, scallions (optional).
- 鸡蛋、西红柿、盐、青葱 （ optional )
Broccoli and meat stir-fry (西兰花炒肉片)
- Use potatoes, celery, bittergourd, or eggplant. Other vegetables work too. Use cornstarch to tenderize the meat. Boil or steam broccoli, cook meat, stir-fry together. Butter is better than regular oil, in my opinion.
- 用土豆、或是芹菜 Celery、或是苦瓜、茄子都可以。其他的蔬菜也可以。需要 Corn Starch 把肉片捏软。
Red Roast Chicken Wings (红烧鸡翅)
- Marinade wings in soy sauce and sugar, then fry briefly with a little oil; when both sides are lightly brown, add water and simmer until dry.
Coca-cola Chicken Wings (可乐鸡翅) (I’d never heard of these…)
- Similar to above, but use Coke. See link.
- 类似 4 的做法。如下链接。
Fragrant Fried Salmon (香煎三文鱼)
- “Marinade” fish with salt and pepper, then pan-fry. Salmon can also be used for a seafood pasta: just cut into small pieces.
Prawn stir-fry (虾仁炒…)
- Stir-fry prawn with beans or other vegetables. This is pretty vague: see my previous post on stir-frying prawn.
Noodle Soup (面汤)
- You can use ham, sausages, vegetables, etc. to cook the soup. For details see link.
- 可以用 ham, 香肠、青菜煮面汤，加入你喜欢的任何东西。煮法如下链接参考。
Let me know with with a comment how these turned out if you try them, or if anything needs further clarification/translation!