Monday, September 26, 2022

Do you mind giving me that recipe...

 .......Well, of course I don't mind. However, I have made a few changes, in fact, quite a few changes, so I should begin at the beginning.

We have a book of Chinese recipes from a celebrity chef of many years ago - Stephen Yan. I'm sure he has many books out, however, this one is entitled "Wok With Yan - Television Cookbook" The copyright is 1982.

There are hundreds of recipes in the book and we manage to use 1!! OK 2 because the recipe underneath sounded good and I happened to have pineapple. This recipe, however, was difficult with hard to find ingredients, so I married it to the one above, tweaked the liquid to include pineapple juice and Voila - life is much simpler.

However, I can't just give you the ingredients. First you have to understand Yan's code for the ingredients.

1. Gourmet powder = MSG (never use it)

2. Wonder powder = tapioca powder. I just use cornstarch.

3. Chinese cooking wine = anything alcoholic in the fridge.

Secondly you have to learn the cooking method's he uses.


Heat wok on high heat. I use the hottest setting and never change it. Add 2 tablespoons of cooking oil in a swirling motion. I use Canola. 

Then add the whole dried chili peppers. (I add all 4 and count them as I add them to plates, so people will know to look out for the peppers and NOT eat them. I did by mistake once and almost died of an attack of fiery mouth and throat.) I stir the peppers for a minute or two and then add the chopped garlic and ginger. Yan adds chopped scallions here, but I prefer to add then at the end, if I happen to have them. Next I add the meat. In this case, although the recipe is called Chili Pork, I use 1 or 2 chicken breasts chopped and marinated.

I stir fry until the chicken is almost cooked. Then I add the vegetables. Although there is a list of vegetables that Yan uses for this recipe, I use whatever I have on hand - mushrooms, broccoli, sweet peppers, corn cut off the cob, pineapple chunks, spinach, arugula, shredded cabbage...the list goes on. In fact I have never used bamboo shoots. I have, however, used all of the above in any combination. I stir the veg around a bit, add 4 tablespoons of water and put the lid on the wok until the first wisps of steam emerge from the lid.

At this point, I remove the lid and add the sauce, stirring until the sauce thickens. (I actually double the sauce ingredients, except for the tobasco and omit the sugar.) When the sauce has thickened, I remove the wok from the heat; add its contents to a serving bowl and ladle over rice. It is delicious!!

There are other cooking methods in the cookbook, but this recipe just calls for his stir fry method and since I have never used any other recipe from the book, I have not tweaked his other methods. End of story! 

However, before you start the stir fry, you need to marinate the meat in 1 teaspoon cornstarch, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 tablespoon cooking wine and a drop or two of sesame oil, if you have it.

Here is my well-seasoned wok!

Here is a picture of the recipe from the book. Forty years of use has left it a little splattered - a testament to it's deliciousness.

Here is a clearer translation:


12oz of pork tenderloin, diced. I use whatever amount of meat I have.

4 dried chili peppers - possibly optional, because I often forget to put them in. Make sure the seeds don't leak from the pods.

1/4c of bamboo shoots - your choice. I have never used them.

1/4c carrots - blanched and diced - I use them, if I am low on veg.

2 green onions - I often don't have these in.

1/2 tsp minced garlic

1/2 tsp minced ginger ( I freeze mine - skin on and grate from frozen.)

1/2c of roasted, unsalted peanuts - I often forget these. However, if I remember, I'll add whatever nuts I have and they are usually salted and/or roasted. I add them with the sauce.


I usually double it, except for the Tobasco. Spell check keeps giving me tobacco...hmmm.

1+1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon sugar - I omit this. I'm usually dieting.

1 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine - or whatever.

a few drops of sesame oil - if you have it.

1 teaspoon Tobasco

1/4c water or chicken stock

1 tablespoon cornstarch

For the fruited pork, I use the above sauce and add pineapple juice topped up with fruit juice for the water.


Friday, September 16, 2022

Dance your heart out!!

This was the response from a friend of mine, when I said that I was taking a folk dancing class this Fall.

Well, I went to my first class today and I am in awe!! This is a class that has been together for 30 years. It has been taught by the same instructor, Olga, for all those years. There is obviously something very enduring about folk dance - trends come and go, but the truly memorable lives on.

There are 30 of us in the class. Most of the participants have been there for years - maybe even 30!! They were most welcoming - thrilled to be able to pass their love of folk dancing onto others. These are the gems of life that are often overlooked.

We danced four circle dances from eastern Europe - Olga's specialty is eastern European dances, which she has taught to Japanese dancers on several trips to Japan. This is a subsection of society that I have somehow missed. 

I won't bore you with the details of the dances except to say that there were four circle dances one each from Turkey, Croatia, Macedonia and Thrace.

I also found out that there was an International Folk Dance Association. Where have you been all my life!!

A quick Google search revealed many folk dancing groups in Toronto. I would love to do the one's associated with Ireland and Scotland, however they are mostly offered in the evening and I rarely go out at night.

So I guess I will dance my heart out on Friday mornings from 10:00-12:00 after a quick 15 minute walk from home. (OK, 30 minutes at a leisurely pace - but I was late.)

Where in the world can you find this type of international entertainment, walking distance?

It may ease my need to travel....for the moment.

Have an amazing day!!