Monday, November 15, 2010

wok like an egyptian


I have weekends where I do not leave the house. Where I just don't really want to, I love to spend my time in the kitchen cooking up the things I've had little time to during the busy week. I like the fact that at times I can be all alone in the house, because they are all dispersed around the neighbourhood. The husband is grabbing a coffee over the road talking philosophy, the middle two at the end of the block on the communal trampoline, or playing with the other kids coming and going between houses.The eldest is scooter-ing away or up in the tree with a friend. When I think they are beginning to wane from breakfast I have to gather them all up. I'd like one of those bells to ring out over the street to call them all in to lunch.

I like to put on a wok full of something at times like this, I throw in a mix of all the things that between them they will eat.

I decided a little while back to try to master good Chinese food. I feel I am pretty good at Indian, quite confident with Thai, even Morrocan. Chinese was however eluding me. I realised it was more than just soy sauce on everything.

Where we live there really isn't good Chinese take away, Chinatown is your best bet. Bea and Aaron have their own little haunts there, so I leave the dumplings to them.

With any cuisine you really need to learn about the ingredients and flavours. Once you practise a little you will be able to whip up wonderful stir fries. Even if you just used the seasonings used in this recipe you could adapt it to marinate some Chicken breast, tofu, Asian greens, or some nice beef fillet. The other secret is to have all your ingredients ready to go, once the wok is hot you will have a meal in 15 minutes, cooking it just until it is a little crunchy. Too long and you lose all the goodness.
here's one I prepared earlier...
Most Chinese take-away compares little to this. Especially the food hall stuff, don't even go there unless they are cooking it in front of you.

I'd suggest to anyone to familiarise themselves with Kylie Kwong. A wonderful Australian  born Chinese chef, whom is judging by the naming of family and friends in her recipes surrounded by good cooks. I envy the tradition of passing down recipes through generations. I have a little of that, well a fair bit, I was never really taught though. I just watched and took it in without knowing,still I envy anyone whom ever spent time with their Grandparents, not only would it have been nice, but the things I could have learnt, having seen where the food I ate originated from. That would have been, something.

An ingredient I had not previously been familiar with was Chinese rice cooking wine, Shaoxing. This wine will cost you about $2.50 in a Chinese grocer, which is nothing. Once you use this you will be thanking me. The fried rice from the Kylie Kwong cookbook is an almighty winner. Everyone needs a great fried rice recipe and this my friends is it. I can tell you that we have eaten this dish twice a week recently and I still can't get enough. I like to add extra partially steamed vegies or raw depending on whether the toothless one will be eating the family meal. Greens are a great addition, add them in a few minutes before it's all ready so as they are still a lovely green.

Add a sprinkle of fresh red chilli and coriander and shallots and WOW, so good.  
rindless chedder
As I watched the kids wolf it down, I felt happy that it was as good as every other time I'd made it. Happy that Phoenix was eating his vegetables, happy that even Aaron (fried-rice-resistant) has a second serve. Happy that there is little for the compost since they eat it all and little to clean up since it's so easy.

I realise too that I'm down to a tablespoon of my rice wine, and I may actually have to leave the house to get some more.


  1. wow im actually going to make this Ines and yes i have Kylie Kwong's book, so funnily ebough i said to mum the other day we should start using some of her recipes for the shop and just maybe something different to sell.....thanks for the ideas!

  2. Chinese rice cooking wine has been added to the shopping list for this week, thanks Ines. Love the great photos, lots of beautiful colors and I too wish we had some nonna / nonno stories. I sat and listened to Dad tell Daniel stories from the old days about trying to spend time alone with mum on an outing at the Cinema, with her two sisters, a brother and father-in-law tagging along and worse still, he had to pay for the whole lot leaving him no extra coins to impress her with a little something....(sis)

  3. You make food look so beautiful :)