How I’m learning to make Chinese food

Yo yo my homies.

So lately I’ve had a serious craving for Chinese food. Like, just about every night. I don’t know what it is but I think Chinese food is just pretty dang delicious these days. But unlike the characters in the TV show The Big Bang Theory, Ben and I can’t afford to order takeout every. single. night. My answer to that is to figure out how to make it myself.

I never have made a lot of Chinese food at home, partly because I didn’t have all the sauces that the recipes call for. Soy …. hoisin … plum …. sesame oil …. rice vinegar … aaahh!! The thought of tracking all of those down and buying them kind of turned me off to making Chinese food for a while. Plus, didn’t I need a wok? But I didn’t have a wok. So …….. “Babe, can you call that good Chinese place? … I want the moo shu pork.” That’s how it went for a while.

But recently I discovered that it’s not too hard to find those sauces. A good grocery store has them ALL, and probably most of them are IN ONE PLACE, too. Wow. What a concept. Sure, each bottle costs a few bucks but I spread the purchases out over a month of grocery-shopping so I didn’t come home with NOTHING but Asian sauces and vinegars. (We have a grocery budget which limits how much I can spend each week.)

Also, maybe a wok is better, but you can tell that to my trusty nonstick frying pan, which seems to work just fine.

I’ve tried a few recipes with varying degrees of success. I made beef with scallions that was OK except the sauce was kind of bland and I overcooked the scallions. (Oops.) I made the beef with scallions recipe again except with green peppers and it was much better, but I still am not crazy about the recipe. So I threw it out. Anyone have a good recipe for beef with scallions, broccoli or any other green vegetable?

By far my biggest success so far has been Cashew Chicken. I made that last week and it was A-MAZE-ING! It tasted like real Chinese food, and not just that but really good Chinese food. Also, it was really easy. I had to cut up chicken, garlic, a red pepper and mix up some sauce. That was it.

I used a recipe from Once Upon a Chef — which by the way looks like an awesome cooking website — but I made a few changes. Interestingly, it looks like Once Upon a Chef originally got the recipe from Martha Stewart’s Great Food Fast cookbook, but made a few changes. (Great Food Fast is one of my favorite cookbooks of all time.)

So If you’re feeling cashew-chicken-y, head over and check out that recipe and follow it to a T. Except if you want to do it the Bethany way, use red bell peppers instead of green onions. I’m sure the original recipe is fabulous, but I didn’t really feel like making it with green onions for some reason.

P.S. Later this week I am going to be making hoisin-glazed salmon with sauteed broccoli and bok choy. Another one from Martha’s Great Food Fast. We’ll see how that goes….

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