Seven books in and Ching-He Huang doesn’t disappoint. This new one has 100 healthy stir fry recipes that are bound to lighten up mealtimes week and weekend
These are she says, recipes designed for ‘busy people’, which makes me feel rather guilty to be honest. I obviously can’t be working hard enough, as I don’t seem to be ‘time poor’ or ‘juggling the demands of family and work’. I seem to get home at a reasonable hour most evenings and we have no problem cooking something to eat. And the family can look after itself, I am not a chauffeur. My parents used to make me use a thing called ‘public transport’.
Still I am all for recipes that are not too onerous and I do like stir-fries. They’re a great way of using up odd bits in the fridge and you don’t need to add much meat, it’s a flavouring rather than the main star.
Using a wok is not hard in itself, the home cook lacks only the mad heat that a restaurant wok burner can deliver. It’s those high flames that create the Wok Breath Flavour, as Ching points out. But she offers plenty of pages of tips to help you get more tastes into your food. One is to salt the oil before you stir fry, which I intend definitely trying.
Another wok master tip (or ‘hack’ - Ching, rather depressingly has followed current fashion with her language) is to keep water close by to cool the wok and also to splash in to steam the vegetables.
Cornflour, or potato flour, is something else to keep close to hand. Ching dusts meat with it before searing and adds it to water to use at the last minute to thicken sauces and give them ‘shine’.
The order of frying is also very important to get the most flavours out and Ching has a checklist for various types of stir fry, such as dry meat and soup noodles. Just following these instructions will definitely improve results
With pages on sauce tricks, toppings and and pickles, you get a whole armoury of tips and techniques to bring to bear. And Ching does recommend you buy her Lotus wok, which is a bit cheeky but as it happens I already have one and it’s a good piece of kit and not something she has simply lent her name to, so she’s allowed.
The recipes are all tempting and as the book cover says, pretty healthy using minimal oil and both Asian and Western ingredients - Chinese pesto spring onion chilli noodles with kale and Taiwanese five spice peanut rice with carrot and edamame, for example and Chicken and green beans in spicy garlic sauce for another.
I personally fancy the clams in a shrimpy hot black bean sauce, the trouble is getting decent clams that don’t cost a quid each.
Far from being crazy, a bit of a publisher choice of title that, this is clear, bright and cheerful cooking. You’d be mad to miss out.
Publisher: Kyle Books (11 Sept. 2017)
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