Chinese Recipes

Recipes for favorite Chinese dishes adapted for home cooking.

Sweet and sour pork, a new version

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When we eat in Chinese restaurants, we often order dishes that we had enjoyed before. For instance, we love Causeway Seafood Restaurant‘s and King Chef’s dim sum selection but, for me, nothing beats Din Tai Fung‘s steamed dumplings. Speedy and I think that HK Choi‘s pata tim and lechon macau are the best and President Grand Palace‘s roast duck is the most succulent…

In other words, although about seventy percent of the items in Chinese restaurants is the same, some versions are more memorable than others. And that is the obvious truth. There is no singular standard recipe for any dish. There are as many versions as there are cooks.

Take the ubiquitous sweet and sour pork. Why is the sweet and sour pork in Restaurant A better than the dish with the same name in Restaurants B, C and D? Same thing among home cooks. Why is your friend’s mother’s sweet and sour pork more mouth-watering than your mother’s version? Perhaps, the balance between sweet and sour is more pleasant. Perhaps, the pork is juicier and more tender. Perhaps, the crisp starch is thinner so there is more meat than starch.

I’ve been cooking sweet and sour pork for at least two decades, I have made so many versions and yet I keep experimenting. In this version, the kaffir lime leaves were added to the sauce, the pork seasonings included oyster sauce and, as to the usual carrot-pepper-onion combination that accompanies the pork, I added eggplants and used scallions instead of onions. »

Steamed fish with sweet soy-ginger sauce

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A lesson I learned today: When cooking fish steak, buy uncut fish then slice into steaks just before cooking. They turn out tastier and juicier that way.The long story: Speedy chanced upon very fresh tanigue (Spanish mackerel) in the market. The … »

Stir-fried chicken with green peas and cashew nuts

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Kowloon House on West Avenue in Quezon City was a significant part of my childhood. While we feasted in Chinatown years earlier, by the time I was in my last few years of grade school, we were dining at Kowloon House more often. It was more … »

Beef hofan

beef-hofan

Alex has a thing for beef hofan. She's obsessed with it. It was the only dish that she asked for when she got sick over the holidays (we didn't give her any because her digestive system went on vacation); it's one of about five dishes that she craves … »

Sticky Szechuan Pork

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Last night we feasted. We had dinner with Batjay, Tito Rolly and Apol, and the menu was as carnivorous as a meal could possibly get. Half a duck (served three-way), pata tim, lechon macau, siao long bao, yang chow and a token vegetable dish. You'd … »

Chicken and black mushrooms braised in soy-ginger sauce

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It starts with the marinade -- a mixture of soy sauce, ginger, sugar, rice wine and white pepper. Into the dark sauce the chicken pieces go where they stay for a couple of hours. Then, the chicken pieces are tossed in corn starch and deep fried just … »

Corn egg drop soup

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There's a storm, you probably wouldn't know that if you're not a resident of the Philippines, classes had been suspended and many parts of Luzon, including Metro Manila, are flooded. We are all stuck at home including Alex's friend, Iya, who was … »

The best sweet and sour sauce is not thickened with starch

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Have you ever wondered why, when you take leftover sweet and sour pork from the fridge, the sauce is all lumpy and has the appearance of too-soft gelatin? It's because of the starch added to the sweet and sour sauce. Good quality sweet and sour sauce … »