Kitchen tools, gourmet foods, baking mixes, and hard-to-find baking ingredients mentioned in this article are available at The Prepared Pantry.
by Dennis Weaver
Chinese cooking is not that much different than American cooking. The
recipes are different and there are a few different techniques. You have to be
able to stir fry for many recipes and you need to be able to cook rice for
nearly all Chinese cooking. Here’s how to do it.
How to Make Stir Fry
You can get by with a good frying pan. If you’re serious, get a wok.
You can buy a wok here.
Use the right size of wok.The size of wok you use depends on how much you’re cooking. Just make sure you consider the size of your recipe before selecting a wok.
Use the right tool to stir. A Chinese ladle or a wok spatula is best, but if you don’t have either of those, a heat-resistant spatula is second best. If you are using a nonstick pan, use a silicone spatula to protect the surface.
It’s all about the heat. It’s high-heat cooking. If you want your stir fry to taste amazing, pay close attention to the heat. Heat the wok until it’s smoking a little, then add oil, garlic, oyster sauce, salt, and the meat.
Don’t wash the wok between steps. After cooking your meat, take it out and place it in a holding dish. Cook the veggies with some water in the same wok, no need wash.
Be careful when you wash your wok.Never use soap when washing your wok hot. Just rinse it off, wipe it down and you’re done.
How to Cook Rice Properly
Wash your rice before you cook it.Rinse the rice using a strainer until the water comes out clear, not milky.
If you are cooking your rice on a stovetop, measure it using your index finger.(I always used a measuring cup with two cups water to one cup rice but I like Casey’s quick trick here.) Level the rice in the pot so there is a relatively flat surface. Touch the surface of the rice with your index finger (do not sink it into the rice) and pour in enough water to come up to the crease on your finger opposite the first knuckle. Cover your pot with a lid and cook until boiling.
Bring the rice to a boil, then turn the burner on low heat.You can tell when the rice is almost done when the sides no longer look like they are covered in glue. Take the rice off the burner, remove the lid and let it sit for a few minutes. It will continue to cook it the hot pan.
Common Issues with Cooking Rice and How to Fix them
The rice is burnt to the bottom. The flame or burner was left on high for too long. The slower the rice cooks, the better. Knowing how long to cook the rice is not about the time, it is about how it looks. The rice should be fluffy and soft, not lumpy or watery.
The rice is too crunchy. This means you didn’t add enough water or give the rice enough time to cook. Remember, measure the water to your first knuckle; it always works.
How to Make Orange Chicken
This is the orange chicken that you are familiar with in most Chinese restaurants. It’s crispy and coated with a sweet orange sauce.
This is one of the most popular Chinese dishes in the US. Though there are variations, we’ll make it just like it is served in popular restaurants. Chicken breasts are cubed, battered, and deep fried. They are then tossed in an orange sauce to make the chicken moist and orange flavored.
What you’ll need
You’ll have most items, tools and ingredients, in your kitchen or find them readily in your grocery store. There are a few unusual items or items that you may not be familiar with. We offer most on our web site.
For the chicken
For the sauce
How to Make Lemon Chicken
This is wonderful lemon chicken! It’s not hard but the secret is the double-dipping before cooking. The lemon sauce is fantastic and authentic.
How to Make Fried Rice
Fried rice is quick and easy to make; it only takes minutes to convert steamed rice to fried rice. The sesame oil adds a nutty-like flavor, much more flavorful than vegetable oil.
About Sesame Oil
Sesame oil is essential in much Asian cooking. It is fragrant and flavorful and usually only a little is used in a dish.
Like olive oil, it comes if many different varieties. We carry several on our site. Experiment to find the one that appeals most to you.
Because only a little is used, a bottle will last a long time. If you don’t use it often, store open bottles in the refrigerator.
About Soy Sauce
Soy sauce is another essential in Asian cooking and a very common flavor. It is loaded with sodium and if you are concerned about salt intake, it should be used judiciously.
Soy sauce can be used in place of salt in many recipes. While soy sauce varies from one to producer to another, the sodium in a teaspoon of soy sauce generally equals that in 1/4 teaspoon salt.
In fried rice, you may use more soy sauce if you start with unsalted rice.
How to Make Egg Rolls
Buy egg roll wrappers at the store and pick up some Mandarin Orange Sauce or other Asian sauce. Then this is an easy three-step recipe.
Baker’s note: These can be cooked in hot oil in a sauce pan on the stove top. Make sure that the oil is about two-inches deep and 350 to 375 degrees F. If the first egg roll does not cook rapidly enough, turn the heat up. (Slowly cooked egg rolls will be greasy.)
To bake, place on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees F for 15-20 minutes or until browned.
Dennis Weaver is the founder of The Prepared Pantry, a full line kitchen store in Rigby, Idaho. The Prepared Pantry sells kitchen tools, gourmet foods, and baking ingredients including hundreds of hard-to-find ingredients.