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Easy Chinese Cuisine



I hope you enjoy Chinese food as much as I do. The recipes can seem intimidating at first, with long lists of ingredients and terms that aren’t familiar to many of us. When I began cooking Oriental foods many years ago, I armed myself with a Chinese cookbook manual of sorts to help me get started. Don’t let the many ingredients and the extra shopping discourage you. Pick a day when you have time to spend in the kitchen and friends or family can join you for food that’s flavorful, healthy, and worth the effort.






CHINESE ZUCCHINI


4 dried mushrooms (Shiitake is good)


Water


1 large tomato


1/2 cup chicken broth


2 Tablespoons ketchup


2 teaspoons soy sauce


2 teaspoons dry sherry


1 teaspoon red wine vinegar


1/4 teaspoon sugar


1/8 teaspoon salt


1 teaspoon cornstarch


2 Tablespoons vegetable oil, divided


1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger


2 small cloves garlic, minced


2 small green onions with tops, finely chopped


1 pound zucchini, unpeeled, cut diagonally in 1-inch pieces


1/2 small yellow onioin, cut into wedges and separated


1/4 red pepper, cut into fine strips, 3 inches long




Place mushrooms in small bowl and add enough water to cover completely. Allow to stand 30 minutes and drain, reserving 1/4 cup of the liquid. Squeeze out excess liquid from mushrooms. Cut stems off and discard. Cut caps into slices.


Place tomato in boiling water and let stand 45 seconds. Remove and rinse immediately in ice-cold water and gently peel off skin. Cut tomato in half and remove stem and seeds. Coarsely chop tomato and set aside. Combine 1/4 cup mushroom liquid, chicken broth, ketchup, soy sauce, sherry, vinegar, sugar, and salt in small bowl. Set aside. Combine cornstarch and 1 Table-spoon water in small cup, mix well, and set aside.


Heat 1 Tablespoon oil in wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add ginger and garlic, and stir-fry about 10 seconds. Add mushrooms, tomato, and green onion. Stir-fry one minute. Stir in chicken broth mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes. Stir occasionally. Remove from wok and set aside. Add remaining 1 Tablespoon oil to wok and heat. Add zucchini and yellow onion and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add 3 Tablespoons water and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender yet crisp, about 3 minutes. Stir cornstarch mixture with mushroom mixture and cook and stir until sauce boils and thickens. Garnish with red pepper strips and green onion curls. Serves 4 to 6.







SHRIMP TOAST


12 large shrimp, shelled and deveined, with tails on


1 egg


2-1/2 Tablespoons cornstarch


1/4 teaspoon salt


Dash of pepper


3 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed, then quartered


1 slice cooked ham, cut into 1/2-inch pieces


1 hard-cooked egg yolk, cut into 1/2-inch pieces


1 green onion with top, finely chopped


Vegetable oil for frying




Cut deep slit down back of each shrimp. Beat raw egg, cornstarch, salt, and pepper in large bowl until blended. Add shrimp and toss to coat well. Place one shrimp, cut side down, on each bread piece and press shrimp gently into bread. Brush small amount of egg mixture over each shrimp. Place one piece each of ham and egg yolk and 1/4 teaspoon onion on top of each shrimp. Press lightly. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat and add 3-4 bread pieces at a time. Cook until golden and gently turn, cooking 1-2 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels. Makes 12.





CASHEW BEEF


1-inch-square piece of fresh ginger


1 pound beef rump steak


4 Tablespoons vegetable oil, divided


4 teaspoons cornstarch


1 Tablespoon soy sauce


1 teaspoon sesame oil


1 teaspoon oyster sauce


1 teaspoon Chinese chili sauce


3 green onions with tops, cut into 1-inch pieces


3 gloves garlic, minced


3/4 cup unsalted, roasted cashews (about 4 oz.)




Peel and finely chop ginger and set aside. Trim fat from meat and discard. Cut meat across the grain into very thin slices about 2 inches long. Heat 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil in wok or large skillet over high heat. Add 1/2 of meat and stir-fry until browned, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside. Repeat with 1 Tablespoon of oil and remaining meat.


Combine cornstarch, water, soy sauce, sesame oil, oyster sauce, and chili sauce in small bowl and mix well. Heat remaining 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil in wok or large skillet over high heat. Add ginger, onions, garlic, and cashews. Stir-fry 1 minute. Stir cornstarch mixture and add to wok with meat. Cook and stir until liquid boils and thickens. Serves 4.






Coming Next Month: Healthy school lunches

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