We love the very different Chinese cooking styles and Chinese food is always an option in our kitchen. Accordingly, there will be many recipes here over time. We will start by introducing some typical ingredients and a very simple vegan dish that can be prepared without a wok. Having a wok in the house is nevertheless recommended.
We use two different products: An excellent wok pan from the manufacturer Spring from Switzerland, made of steel and very similar to the Asian models. And a completely different model by the manufacturer Woll from Germany, with removable handle and non-stick coating. The latter is not necessary for typical cooking with a wok, but gives interesting options if you want to cook Asian stews.
However, there is clearly nothing to be said against an inexpensive model. Any price range can provide excellent service. The special shape and heat conductivity of a wok is optimal for all kinds of stir-fried dishes. With this cooking technique, the ingredients only come into contact with very intense heat for a very short time, which keeps them fresh and crisp while developing roast aromas.
If you don’t have a wok, you can use a simple and light pan that quickly takes on high heat. Heavy cast-iron pans or braising pans, as used in the Western world, are less suitable.
As always when cooking with a wok, you first prepare all the ingredients, because the cooking process itself is incredibly fast.
We wash our vegetables and remove the stems from mushrooms, which are then cut into quarters. We cut peppers into triangular pieces about 2 cm long. Here is a tip on the cutting technique. Separate the florets from the broccoli and cut the larger ones in half.
The other ingredients are also prepped. For heat and flavour, we use doubanjiang, a classic Chinese paste made from chilli and fermented beans. Our friend Patrick calls it ” Paste of Death ” and It is never missing in our kitchen. Pixian is a very common manufacturer.
We also peel and chop some ginger and garlic.
Furthermore, we use southern Chinese black bean sauce, which contributes sweet and earthy flavours that enhance the mushrooms’ own taste. Lee Kum Kee’s product is probably the most common.
Then there is Shaoxing rice wine, the classic Chinese cooking wine, and soy sauce, light or dark according to taste.
All these ingredients can by now be bought almost everywhere or at least ordered online. They are also among the absolute basic ingredients for anyone interested in Chinese food.
Finally, we mix a little starch (it doesn’t matter which plant it comes from) in some cold water.
Important: The seasoning ingredients are already very salty, so the dish will not need any more salt. Therefore, do not use too many of these ingredients either, their flavours will quickly become so intense that they would completely overpower the delicious vegetables.
Once these few preparations are complete, we fire up the wok and bring neutral oil over high heat almost to the point of smoking.
Then the hardest vegetable, in this case broccoli, is first stir-fried in the wok for 30 – 60 seconds, stirring continuously. A slight browning here and there contributes to the desired smoky aroma.
We remove the broccoli and set it aside, the residual heat continues to cook it tenderly. Then we proceed with the peppers in exactly the same way.
Now we fry doubanjiang for 30 seconds so that it can develop its full flavour….
…and add the ginger and garlic for another 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
On top we put the mushrooms, which need to be sautéed for about 3 minutes until they have released some of their liquid.
Now the black bean sauce and rice wine come into play. Both immediately combine with the liquid from the mushrooms to form a sauce base.
The remaining vegetables go back into the wok and are fried for another 2 – 3 minutes until the broccoli is cooked but still crunchy.
Then the starch dissolved in water is added, whereupon in another minute a typically Chinese, delicately bound sauce is created which envelopes the vegetables.
Optionally, you can now add some white pepper (not black, please) from the mill. We like this very much, but it also tastes great without.
And may the taste be with you.
Ingredients (for 2 people):
Use the vegetables of your choice, this is just a suggestion:
500 g button mushrooms
2 bell peppers
A small broccoli or half a large one
2 – 3 cm ginger
2 – 3 cloves of garlic
1 – 2 tbsp doubanjiang
1 tbsp black bean sauce
2 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
2 tbsp light or 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp starch dissolved in 3 tbsp water
A little neutral oil
Optional: A little ground white pepper
80 – 100 g rice per person