Archive for ‘stir fry’

April 3, 2014

Ketchup Stir Fry Prawns + Chinese BBQ Noodles

Chang’s mom gave me this huge bag of frozen shrimp a few weeks ago and I never got around to cooking it. Every time we saw her she’d ask, “Did you try the shrimp yet?” and I’d shamefully shake my head and admit that I hadn’t figure out what to do with it yet. Stir fry shrimp and eggs? Shrimp with edamame? Overdone. That’s the extent of my Chinese shrimp cooking skills, those two recipes. Then literally out of sheer laziness because it requires no peeling, it occurred to me that I could make the ketchup stir fry prawns I’ve seen my own mother make with those giant tiger prawns. Too ambitious? Maybe. I called my mother to ask for her recipe but she was busy and forgot to call me back. 7:00pm came and went. Chang and I were getting hungry.

So I winged it.



  • 1.5 lb fresh or thawed prawns, heads off shells ON
  • salt
  • corn starch
  • oil (high smoke point, like avocado or peanut)
  • 2 stalks green onions, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp grated/minced ginger*
  • Sauce:
    • 1/2 cup ketchup
    • 2 tbs soy sauce
    • ~2 tbs brown sugar, loose
    • 1/2 tsp sesame oil

*if you don’t have fresh ginger, 1/2 tsp or so of ginger powder mixed into the sauce will do.


  1. Rinse prawns under cold water (this will thaw them quickly, too, if they’re still frozen). Drain well. Line paper towel over baking pan and place prawns in.
  2. Mix sauce ingredients in a small bowl
  3. Dry prawns thoroughly with more paper towels (always make sure whatever it is you’re frying is very very dry. It will crisp better and you wont have as much splash back of hot oil when it hits the pan.).
  4. Remove paper towels, mop up baking pan so everything is dry. Lightly salt prawns. Coat with 3-4 tbs cornstarch. Toss and mix.
  5. Heat large frying pan or wok over medium high heat. When pan is hot (you wont be able to hold your palm right over the pan for over 5 seconds if it’s hot enough), add oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Heat until oil shimmers.
  6. Slowly add prawns in a single layer (you may have to do this in batches). Fry until the cooked orange edges creep up and over to the top side. Flip and cook other side. Both sides should be orange, with just-golden brown and crisp shells. Remove and set aside.
  7. Drain oil so that only a thin layer is left. Add minced garlic/ginger/green onion and quickly stir until aromatic. (You WILL be able to smell it.) Do NOT burn garlic, this does not take long. Add shrimp back in and toss to coat. Spoon in sauce, not all at once, but enough to coat the shrimp. (You can always add more, but you can’t take out.). Remove and serve!


Woohoo! Yay for winging it! I feel like a real adult now. I’m making grown up dishes! By myself! Who needs mama now?! Yea OK, technically Chang’s mom gave me the shrimp… but I made it into a MEAL! Annndddd ’cause that about hits my grown up-ness quota for the week, I served it with my favorite college lazy dish: BBQ noodles. Literally ate this 3 out of 7 nights back then.



  • dried noodles (I like the thin japanese variety, or the curly ramen-like noodles)
  • scallions (minced)
  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • 1 tsp Chinese BBQ (sha cha)
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • Optional Toppings: soft poached egg, veggies


  1. Cook noodles.
  2. Mix rest of the ingredients in serving bowl.
  3. Add and mix noodles when cooked.
  4. Top with egg and/or veggies.





August 24, 2012

Kung Pao Chicken w/ Cashews

Here is my easy/no fuss version of Kung Pao Chicken. I always though Kung Pao Chicken was just another one of those fake Chinese food dishes you get at those ubiquitous Asian fast food joints with the fat and fluffy ursine mascot. I believed this for most of my life, until the day I actually ORdered this dish from [insert panda themed restaurant name] and was like, “wait. my mom makes this.”

So yea. I’ll eat my own words. I guess this stuff is authentic after all.

Anyway, I believe stir fry purists would say you should 1) marinate for 30 min then cook the chicken until mostly done, remove. 2) heat oil back up again, add garlic, fresh ginger, and chilies to release the full flavors, then 3) add the chicken back in, the sauce, then the green onions, and lastly the nuts (my mother uses peanuts).

But MAN that sounds way too complicated. And after a long freaking day at work, I do NOT want to have to think about “what do I do next again?” Solution? Add everything into the marinade. Sure my mom still makes it better. But mine is FASTER. and with WHITE meat. JUICY white meat, I might add… because I marinate overnight instead of on the counter for 30 min (I chalk that tradition up to the fact that my ancestors did not have refrigerators and to let your chicken sit overnight is to kill your whole family w/ salmonella.)

So here goes. Kung Pao Chicken, simplified:


  • 1.5 lb chicken tenders
  • ~1/2+ cup soy sauce or enough to cover chicken
  • 1 tsp corn starch
  • 1-2 tsp sesame oil
  • ~5 dried chili peppers, sliced diagonally
  • 1 tbs dark brown sugar
  • 1-2 tsp ginger powder
  • 2 tbs Chinese rice wine
  • optional: Chinese black vinegar (I had none. Didn’t miss it)
  • 2 talks green onion, chopped in 2 inch sections
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup roasted unsalted cashews
  • oil for stir frying (NOT olive oil. something with a high smoke point like peanut oil is better)


  1. Cut chicken into small pieces, about 1 inch cube.
  2. In a deep container (I like to use glass tupperware) mix soy sauce, sugar, rice wine, sesame oil, ginger, chili peppers, and corn starch until thickened. Adjust to taste. Add chicken, cover, and marinate overnight (if using dark meat, 15-30 minutes is plenty. Overnight is if you want to make healthy crappy white meat juicier.).
  3. Heat a wok or large frying pan on high. Add oil and heat until shimmering. Add chicken and marinade. Stir until chicken is cooked through. Add green onions and cashews. Toss until green onions become fragrant (1 min or so). Remove from heat and serve.

Stir Fry Tips:

  1. Use a hot Guo1, or pot/wok. I mean HOT. Like smoking red hot. Then add oil and let it heat until shimmery. Always. Hot pot and hot oil = less crap sticking to your pan.
  2. Always add green onion last. You still want to stir fry it a bit to let the flavors release (you’ll be able to smell it when it does), but cook it any longer than absolutely necessary and you’ll get limp ugly green onion. Green onion should act as a garnish as well as an aromatic. It should be bright, green, and pretty.

Thank you, Mama Chen for teaching me well.

May 30, 2012

“Beef” and Broccoli

I’m two days into my “detox”, after a weekend of gluttony in LA for the Memorial Day holiday, and all I can think about is some good old greasy fake Chinese food.  Here was my compromise:

This is a WONDERFUL imitation beef. Good firm texture, minimal soy flavor, and the best part? “Lightly Seasoned.” I don’t have to worry about my stir fry tasting like thyme and parsley. This makes them very versatile. At ~$3 bucks a package, I will be stocking up.

I love Trader Joe’s. I love their prepared food section, I love their affordable prices, and most of all, I love SPECULOOS. Holy crap. speculoos filled chocolate bars? Screw this diet. For those of you who are all “speck-you-what?” Speculoos is a nutty spread, much like an illegitimate love child of nutella and caramel. Too good to be true. But oh. It is. Ladies and gentlemen, speculoos IS real. Say it with me now: speculoooooos. And it is slathered over many a waffle in the food truck lined streets of New York City. So delectably decadent, that the last time I was in New York, the whole city was SOLD OUT.  I kid you not.

But I digress. Back to fake – fake Chinese food.


  • 1 package of Trader Joe’s Beef-Less strips
  • ~2 cups broccoli florets
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ~2 tbs soy sauce*
  • 3-4 tbs oyster sauce
  • 1 dash sesame oil
  • 1-2 tsp corn starch
  • 1/3 cup water

*like all chinese stir fry, I season to taste. Excuse my approximations. Soy sauces very widely in saltiness.


  1. In a small mixing bowl, add soy sauce, sesame oil, oyster sauce, and slowly stir in corn starch to thicken into a consistency of ….thick chowder. Adjust seasonings to taste. Set aside.
  2. Warm a large wok or skillet over medium high heat. Add broccoli and a dash of water. Cover and steam, shaking pan frequently without removing cover to mix. Steam ~3 minutes. Uncover and remove broccoli.
  3. Heat 1-2 tbs oil in skillet until shimmery hot. Add beef and break up the strips. Lightly brown evenly. Strips are already cooked. You are basically just browning and warming.
  4. Add florets, garlic, and toss. When garlic becomes fragrant (~1 min), add sauce. Mix. Thin with a water if you want soupier sauce.

Mmm, mmm good. And healthy! AND vegetarian!

February 16, 2012

Beef Bulgogi

Follow recipe for Chicken Bulgogi, using thin sliced ribeye instead of chicken breast.

February 7, 2012

Chicken Bulgogi

  • 2 chicken breasts, sliced
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • broccoli
  • carrots, sliced
  • green onion
  • bulgogi BBQ marinade (purchased at korean supermarket)

Marinate meat in onions and BBQ sauce overnight. Heat oil in large frying pan. Stir fry meat. Plate meat and set aside. Add veggies. Stir fry on high heat for a 1-2 minutes, then cover and let broccoli steam for 5 minutes. Add meat back in, along with green onions. Stir, then plate and serve.


February 3, 2012

Stir Fry Eggs and Tomato

A classic:

  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 stalk of green onion
  • 1 small tomato, diced
  • 1 tbs rice wine
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • salt

Mix rice wine into beaten eggs. In a wok or frying pan, heat a bit more sesame oil or vegetable oil over medium heat. Scramble eggs until still a bit runny. Remove and set aside. Raise heat to medium high and add tomatoes to pan. Add a pinch of salt. Stir fry until soft and some of the liquid is reduced ~ 3 min. Add green onions and egg back in. Stir and mix, breaking up the larger pieces of egg. Salt to taste. Remove and plate.

January 14, 2012

Stir Fry Rice Cake w Salted Mustard Greens 雪菜肉絲炒年糕

One of my favorite classic dishes of all time. I figured it was about time I learned to make it myself. Much easier than I thought it would be. I wish I had tried this years ago!


  • 1 large batch of mustard greens
  • 3/4 cup pork tenderloin, cut in thin strips
  • basic chinese meat marinade*
  • 1/2 cup sliced shitake mushrooms
  • 1/3 cup small bamboo shoot, cut in strips
  • 1 large clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbs ginger
  • ~3-4 cups rice ovals, thawed


  • 1 tsp corn starch
  • 1 tbs soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil

Lots of eyeballing on measurements here…


  1. THE NIGHT BEFORE: Trim leaves off mustard greens. Discard stems. Roll leaves up like a cigar and slice from one end to the other (kind of like a chiffonade), then slice again the other way to create small squares. Salt generously. Pack in a sealable container and leave in fridge overnight or for several hours.
  2. Thaw rice cakes in fridge overnight or soak them for an hour or so, changing water frequently.
  3. Marinate pork for ten min+. (How to Cut Pork Tenderloin: meat is easier to cut when partially frozen. slice diagonally from one end to make flat ovals, then stack the ovals and cut strips)
  4. Heat wok or large non-stick pan on high with a drizzle of oil. Add pork and brown evenly on all sides. Remove and set aside.
  5. Drain rice cakes. Add a bit more oil to pan if needed and add rice cakes. Toss and let it brown on all sides.
  6. Add mushrooms and mustard greens. Toss. Cover and let it steam for 5 min or so, or until rice cakes are just starting to soften. (If it dries up, add a dash of chicken stock)
  7. Add bamboo and meat and continue to stir fry until rice cakes are al dente: just soft enough that it gives to slight finger pressure, but not floppy, and slightly chewy.
  8. Remove from heat and plate.

September 28, 2011

Stir Fry How To + Easiest stir fry dish ever


  • 1 large potato, sliced
  • 1 green onion, sliced diagonally
  • vegetable oil


  1. Wash and drain potato slices to remove excess starch.
  2. Heat vegetable oil in a large frying pan or wok.
  3. Add potato, salt generously, and stir fry until just soft.
  4. Push potato aside and make a hole in the center of the pan.
  5. Add a dribble more of oil in the hole, and flash fry the green onions.
  6. Stir and mix with potato.  Serve.

See? Easy. A good side to compliment a heavier dish.

I typically have one or two vegetable dishes, a meat dish, and something extra (tofu? eggs?) It may seem like a pain to make so many dishes when cooking Chinese at home, but stir frying is so fast and simple it really doesn’t take any longer than cooking a western meal with just one entree and one side.
Here’s your basic stir fry run down:

  1. Chop. Cut everything into similar shapes and sizes. Not only does it make it easier to eat, it cooks more evenly and is more aesthetically pleasing. Ex: if your meat is cubed, dont cut long and skinny vegetables. I typically prefer long strips of meat and veggies. It is easier to pick up several different components of the dish with one swipe of the chopstick.
  2. If you have meat, marinate it. This can be done ahead of time, or just before you cut the veggies so it’ll have time to sit. You do not need long. maybe 30 minutes. Dissolve a bit of corn starch in soy sauce. Maybe a drop or two of sesame oil. Then toss meat to coat evenly.
  3. Heat wok. Or a large frying pan. My crappy electric stove and Calphalon frying pan works fine. Heat until the pan is smoking. Add oil and let it heat until shimmering.
  4. a) Stir fry meat and remove. Once meat is browned all over, scoop it into a bowl and set aside. If using beef or shrimp or other meats that get tough when overcooked, don’t cook all the way through.
  5. b) Reheat pan and add veggies/tofu. Stir fry and season/salt to taste.
  6. Reintroduce meat into pan. Stir briefly to mix.
  7. c) Optional: Add tertiary ingredients if necessary: green onions, hot sauce, and things that dont need a lot of cooking and are just for extra flavor. In fact, always add green onion last or it’ll get brown and ugly.
  8. Remove from pan immediately and serve.

Stir fry combos I eat regularly at home: (Everything is split into 3 ingredients, corresponding with steps 4, 5, and 7)

  • a) slices of pork tenderloin + b) dried tofu (dou fu gan) + c) spicy preserved vegetable (see pic)
  • a) shrimp + b) eggs, scrambled + c) green onions…
  • a) chive flower + b) pork tenderloin slices + c) thousand year old egg (my favorite! place eggs in cold water and bring to a boil. remove and cut into chunks. this prevents the yolk from being too sticky)

Maybe I’ll write up recipes for these some other day. It’s all very simple! I’m sure you can figure it out.

One last tip: Seasoning is done with salt if the dish is light colored (shrimp and egg scramble). And soy sauce if dark (most meat dishes)

November 14, 2010

Korean Stir Fry

i had a hankering for jap chae. but seeing as i have no sweet potato noodles, a stir fry will have to do:


  • 1/2 lb sliced marbled beef*
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, sliced
  • 2 stalks of green onion, sliced
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1 broccoli head, diced
  • 5 crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp corn starch
  • 1/2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbs sesame oil
  • 1 tbs  go chu jang (sweet & spicy korean chili paste)
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame seeds
  • beef broth

*i used half a package of hotpot beef from the chinese supermarket. super thin slices.


  1. mix soy sauce, sesame oil, chili paste, pepper, and sugar in a small bowl.
  2. in a medium sized bowl, pour in half of the soy sauce mixture. dissolve cornstarch in mixture. marinate beef and set aside.
  3. wash and chop your veggies.
  4. heat vegetable oil in a hot nonstick pan (sesame oil has too low of a smoking point. i use it for its flavor and not for cooking.)
  5. brown beef quickly.  remove from pan.
  6. reheat pan. add onions and saute ~3 min. add minced garlic. (i usually from a little hole in the center of the pan, add a bit more oil, and fry the garlic until fragrant. then mix.)
  7. add broccoli and mushrooms. add enough beef broth to produce a bit of steam (1/4 cup..?), cover, reduce to medium, and steam ~3-5 min.
  8. remove cover, add carrots, stir and add more soy sauce mixture over veggies to taste.
  9. form a little hole in the center of the pan again, add a dash of oil, then fry green onions until fragrant. mix.
  10. finally, mix in beef. stir and remove from heat.
  11. sprinkle on sesame seeds and serve with rice! 
September 20, 2010

Pork Liver Stir Fry

I swear I’m becoming more domestic everyday.

And more absent minded as well, so it seems.

After reheating something in the microwave the other day, I set the plastic cover thing on the stove top, forgetting that I had just usED said stove top. Midway through eating my dinner the smell of burning plastic finally got my attention. Luckily enough I remembered a tip I read somewhere long ago that flash freezing melting plastic will pop it right off the hot surface. Dumped a bowl of ice cubes on it and voila! whaddya know. some sizzling, some popping, and a sheet of plastic really did just pop right off.

Go me.

now back to dinner.

my doctor says i’m anemic and need to eat more liver.  a good reason to stop putting off learning how to cook this gastronomical delight of an organ, no? (yea yea. some of you may disagree, but liver is AWESOME.)


  • 1 pork liver
  • 1 med zucchini, sliced
  • 1 med carrot, sliced
  • 1/2 med yellow onion, sliced flat
  • ginger, julienne
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 capfuls of rice wine
  • 3 tbs soy sauce
  • 1 tsp corn starch
  • hoisin sauce
  • black pepper (optional)


  1. cut liver into thin, even slices
  2. dissolve corn starch in rice wine, soy sauce. add liver and ginger. set aside to marinate.
  3. heat wok or a large nonstick pan, add oil, fry garlic until fragrant.
  4. add carrots, saute 1-2 min, then add onions and zucchini. squeeze in some hoisin sauce and continue cooking until almost soft. empty into a bowl and set aside.
  5. reheat wok. add liver, quick sear until no longer pink. reintroduce veggies into pan. add more soy sauce (or hoisin if you prefer a sweeter taste) if needed, mix evenly until liver cooked through. remove and serve with rice (although i find veggies are a tastier and healthier alternative.) 
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