Steve's China Blog

Monday, January 19, 2009

Some cooking

I had wanted to start trying to cook some Chinese food a few weeks ago, but discovered (when Amber came over and cooked for me during the last holiday) that my fan above my stove was not working. A lot of Chinese dishes require a lot of oil to cook, and you need a fan going or else your kitchen will get a little stinky after awhile. Later I found out that there was a switch on the other side of the kitchen that needed to be turned on, so now my fan works and I can now try to cook some Chinese food.

On Saturday I decided to try to cook some fried rice. I used the lesson from this video and a little improvising...

In the lesson Qiang Ye uses corn starch, which is not used here. Here we use potato flour as a thickener. Another change I made was to use 2 cups of rice which when cooked makes about 4 cups of rice. I didn't take any pictures while making my fried rice, but it turned out really well. I was surprised and very happy about it.

On Saturday night I went out to dinner with Fiona, and we tried a sushi place at Wanda Plaza. The sushi was kind of so-so, but the restaurant was kind of neat. We sat up at the counter, and they have a little conveyor belt that goes around with a bunch of different types of sushi and shashimi. In the middle are the guys who make the sushi. When you are done the waitress counts your plates, which are color coded depending on the price of the dish, and figures out the total cost of the meal. After dinner we went to a store and I bought some groceries for what I wanted to cook on Sunday.

For lunch on Sunday I cooked some gong bao ji ding (宮保鸡丁 aka kung pao chicken). I used a book called Sichuan Cookery by Fuchsia Dunlop and some of Qiang Ye's video's (part 1 here and part 2 here). Again, I had to make it some minor changes. Here is how I cooked it:

First I cut up 2 chicken breasts into small pieces...

Cutting up chicken breasts

You want to cut the chicken up into pretty much the same size pieces, so that they cook evenly. Next I made a marinade for the chicken....

Half tablespoon of Dark Soy Sauce
1 tablespoon of Light Soy Sauce
A pinch of salt
1 tablespoon of potato flour
1 tablespoon of Chinese cooking wine
1 tablespoon of water

Small bowl of chicken marinade

... put into a small bowl and stir well, and then add to chicken. Stir marinade with chicken and let stand for 20 to 30 minutes. While the chicken is marinading I mixed the peppers in a small bowl and set aside for later...

about 10 dried red chilies, broken up into small pieces (remove seeds to make less spicy)
Half tablespoon of dried Sichuan flower peppers (very spicy).

...and also cut up the vegetables, put in a small bowl and set aside for later.

3 spring onions, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small ginger root sliced into 6 to 8 thin slices

vegetables and peppers

Next, I made the sauce for the dish...

1 tablespoon of Red chili bean paste
Half tablespoon of Dark Soy Sauce
4 tablespoon of Light Soy Sauce
Half tablespoon of vinegar
Half tablespoon of sesame oil
1 tablespoon of potato flour

The three small bowls (from left to right) are vegetables, peppers, and sauce.

Mix all that in a small bowl and set aside for later.

I then put about 2 cups of vegetable oil in a wok and heated that up. When it was hot enough I added the chicken in and cooked that about half way.

Chicken cooking in oil

When the chicken was half coked I removed the chicken, poured out all the oil except for about 2 tablespoons and added the peppers. About two or three minutes of stirring these around in the oil...

Peppers with a small amount of oil

After a few minutes the oil becomes red and is really fragrant. Then I added the onion, garlic, and ginger and stir fried these for a minute or two...

Spring onion, garlic, ginger and peppers

Then I added the chicken back in and stirred all this around for a few minutes, and then added the sauce and stir fried for another minute or so...

Chicken added, and right before the sauce is added

At this point I added the peanuts (about a cup), turned the heat off, and then stirred for another minute...

Mmmmmm.... Looks and smells wonderful

All done! Here is some gong bao ji ding along with some of the fried rice I made the day before...

A great lunch

This was the first time I had cooked this, so I was not too sure if it would turn out good or not, but after added the sauce it really started smelling wonderful, so I was kind of happy.

There were two things wrong though... first, it turned out to be really really spicy. Second, it was a little too oily. So if you are going to make this dish you will want to reduce the amount of chili peppers, Sichuan flower peppers, and/or chili bean paste, as well as reducing the amount of oil used. I also could have probably added another chicken breast and some more spring onion without changing any of the other ingredients. I think I will have to practice making this some more before it gets as good as I would like.


  • Way cool--my favorite chinese dish---lets see Steve comes home in October--we do Renn Faire and then cooks Kung pao Chicken sounds great.

    By Anonymous Greg, at 5:01 AM  

  • I think this October I am going to Bali. Not sure when I will be coming back to the US... Thanksgving maybe?

    I'm looking forward to cooking some Chinese food for you all. Amy doesn't eat beef, right? Does she eat chicken or seafood?

    By Blogger Steve Harms, at 9:41 AM  

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