The Breath of a Wok [1 ed.] 0743238273, 9780743238274

Award-winning author Grace Young celebrates and demystifies the art of wok cooking for the Western home cook. When Gra

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Table of contents :
The Breath of a Wok
Grace Young and Alan Richardson
Virtuous Wok
Wok Buying
Considerations When Choosing a Wok
Equipment Choices
Basic Steps to Seasoning a Wok
Wen Geng Lin's Chinese Chive Rub
Hung Chong Chinese Chive and Oil Stir-Fry
Julie Tay's Chinese Chive and Pork Fat Stir-Fry
Basic Oil Method
Tane Chan's Oven Oil Method
Western-Style Oven Oil Method
rhc Face ot a Wok
W Ok H 3 y The Breath of
The Master Lesson
Florence Lin's Smoked Chicken and Eggs
Smoked Striped Bass
Smoked Striped Bass
-ftif Pan-Frying
Ginger and Scallion Oysters Lichee Garden
Virginia Yee's Dry-Fried Sichuan String Beans
Florence Lin's Tofu with Cilantro Relish
Cousin Sylvia's Drumsticks with Caramelized Onions
Auntie Bertha's Ginger Drumettes with Oyster Sauce
Che Chung Ng's Water Chestnut and Pork Omelets
Henry Hugh's Chinkiang Pork Chops
•):£ Braising
Auntie Betty's Cellophane Noodles, Mushrooms, and Barbecued Pork
Chinese Barbecued Pork
Cousin Doreen's Braised Spareribs and Asparagus
Cousin Judy's Tofu with Black Bean Sauce
Cousin Kathy's Lion's Head
Henry Hugh's Cantonese Stuffed Tofu
Curried Cauliflower, Napa Cabbage, and Carrots
Tina Yao Lu's Shanghai-Style Crabs and Rice Cakes
Margaret Loo's Braised Tofu and Mushrooms
Uncle Lang's Three Teacup Chicken
Danny Chan's Ginger and Scallion Crabs
Uncle Lang's Oyster Sauce Mushrooms
Virginia Yee's Beef Short Ribs with Scallions
Martin Yan's Mandarin Five-Flavored Boneless Pork Chops
Amy Tan tin (I the New Year’s Dumplings
Boiling Poaching
Amy Tan's Family's Jiao-zi
Jin Do's Tangy Ginger Sauce
Homemade Chicken Broth
Bernadette Chan's New Year's Poached Fish
Nevin Lim's Luffa with Gold and Silver Garlic
Winnie Hon's Silken Tofu with XO Sauce
Ray Lee's Cantonese Steamed Chicken
Danny Chan's Steamed Salmon with Lemon
Dumpling Dough
Dumpling Dough Chive Variation
Scallop Siu Mai Spring Moon
Classic Steamed Fish Spring Moon
,h Deep-Frying
Scallop Crisp Spring Moon
Vegetarian Spring Rolls
Nevin Lim's Traditional Oyster Chicken
Winnie Hon's XO Sauce
Candied Walnuts
Men us

So ii ires
I ndex
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The Breath of aW o k Unlocking the Spirit of Chinese W o k Cooking T h r o u g h R ec ip es a nd Lore

Grace Young


Alan R i c h a r d s o n

W ith Text iind Recipes by Grace Young

S im o n c\ S c h u s t e r

N e w Y o rk


T o ro n to


S I M O N c\ SC I I U S T E R Rockefeller C enter 1230 A ve n u e of the Am ericas N e w York. N Y 10020 C opyright © 2004 by G race Young and Alan Richardson Text and Recipes copyright © 2004 by G race Young Photographs copyright © 2004 by Alan Richardson All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in w h o le or in part in any form. S im o n & S c h u s t e r

and colophon are registered tradem arks of Sim on & Schuster, Inc.

For inform ation regarding special discounts for bulk purchases, please contact Sim on & Schuster Special Sales at 1-800-456-6798 or busm [email protected] sim onandschuster com. Designed and produced by A lan Richardson for Plenty W orks, Inc., N e w York, NY Type consulting by Sm ythtype, Montclair, NJ Chinese typography by Birdtrack Press, N e w Haven, CT C olo r prints by C olor Resource Center, N e w York, NY M an u fa ctu re d in the U nited States of Am erica 10










Library of Congress Catalogmg-m-Publication Data Young, G race The breath of a w ok: unlocking the spirit of Chinese w ok cooking through recipes and lore / by G ra ce Young and Alan Richardson p


Includes bibliographical references and index 1 Cookery, C hinese 2 W o k cookery 3 Food habits— C hin a TX724 5 C 5Y593 641 59 51— dc22 ISBN 0-7432-3827-3

2004 2003070403

I Richardson, Alan II Title

1c k iio ii’lcil{linen is 4N

I his book w ould not Ilave boon possible' w ithou t

lav. Ken I o. I )r. and M rs. Kam Toa M ill, M argaret

the encouragement and lo w ol mv husband, M ichael

l oo. B e rn a d e tte C h a n , C h e f M in g T sai. I lelen

W ic rtz . w h o understood tlu- need tor .ill m v wok

( 'hen. ( 'lie f I )anny ( !han, IVipei ( 'hang.Jean Yueli.

journeys .uul good-naturedly accepted every

M illie C h a n . Florence I in. C h e f M a rtin Yan. C h et

adventure brought homo .it least

Sm ('h a h

o ik


new w ok tor

I ung, R a y Lee, C e c ilia C liia n g . C h e

m y collection. In the midst o f all the upheaval that

C h u n g N g. I ) r kson I lee, A m y Ian. Lou I )eM attei.

results trom creating a book, he was a paragon ot

|in I )o Hug, I ljun W an.Y u hang W ang, I long C h ang

calm. I or this and m uch more. I am grateful.

( 1110. and Yan Z h e n g Yan.

I w ould like to express m y appreciation to my

I leartfclt g ratitude and appreciation to the

parents. I lelen and D e lw y n Young, tor instilling in


me their love and passion tor Cantonese cuisine and

tie and uncle Hetty and R o y In n for hosting our

the unsurpassed brilliance ot a stir-fry w ith wok hoy.

fam ily w ok-a-thon party— w ith o u t their gracious

M a n y thanks to them tor their faith in me.

hospitality the event w o u ld never have happened.

Special thanks to Rosanna and C .Y . Shum ; my


m v family, w ith special thanks to my aun­

A nd to all the participants: B erth a Je w ; Lillian and

visit w ith them in I lo n g K o n g in 2indulged

W illia m

J e w ; F ra n c e s a n d S h e r m a n Y o u n g ;

me in the fascinating w o rld of I lo n g K o n g —style

K ath erin e |cw L im ; D oreen and M e l Song; Sylvia,

co o k in g and in m any ways inspired the w ritin g ot

F re d , and T h o m a s C h o w ; C in d y and Z a n e

this book.

M atsuzaki; Judy, I )avid. and T im o th y Jew .

From the beginning. M artha Kaplan, m y agent

In llo n g K o n g and C h in a ; V irg in ia Y e e .T in a

and triend. has cham pioned this project and ottered

Yao Lu. M a ry C hau, N e v in L im .C h e t Kevin C ln ik ,

w ise counsel— usually over

C h in ese meal. As the

W alte r K e i, C h e f Ip C'hi C h eu n g , C h e f Lee W an

book began to take shape, m y dear friend Laura

C h in g . C 'h e f Y i p W i n g W a ll, C 'h e f L o o n C h i

C erw m sk e generously did the prelim in ary editing

C h eung , M r. and M rs.Yang Lang Ling (U n c le Lang

of m y rough drafts, helping me to set the founda­

and A u n tie Y i). and Liang N ia n X iu .


tion ot m y story. It was m v good fortune to have

I here are several individuals m entioned



m y uncle S u n Y u i Lun g give the C h in ese titles for

long list o f cooks w e interview ed w hose c o n trib u ­

each essay and section ot the book. 11e has been a

tions extended far beyond our cooking sessions. W e

constant ad viso r from the b e g in n in g , p atien tly

are profoundly grateful to Florence L in , w h o c o n ­

researching and consulting

sulted on numerous culinary questions w ith excep­


any type ot Chinese

cultural question that confused me.

tional grace and generosity.

I o w e a special debt of g ra titu d e to E v ie R ig h te r, w h o cam e to my rescue

W ith o u t M illie C h a n we w o u ld have never

num erous

had the o p p o rtu n ity to meet Flo ren ce Lin . M illie

occasions, p ro vid in g invaluable ed ito rial guidance

was one ot the first cooks w e in te rvie w e d and

on the recipes and essays. I ler critiq u es always

from the start o f the project she and her husband,

illum inated the material, ottering insights and clar­

L o - Y i, have been great supporters.


I w ill always treasure the tim e spent w ith my

ity that eluded me. In w ritin g this book. Alan and I have had the

U n c le Lang and A u n tie Y i


Foshan, C h in a. W h e n

e x tra o rd in a ry pleasure of m e e tin g m any great

I last saw them over tw en ty years ago, our rela­

teachers w h o generously shared th eir expertise

tionship was much more formal. I was very touched

and friendship. ( )u r profound thanks to the hom e

to be w elcom ed into their hom e to spend an after­

co o ks and chefs w h o g ra cio u sly w e lc o m e d us

noon co o kin g and sharing a meal. I thank them for

in to th eir kitchens.

em bracing our project and tirelessly accom panying

In the U n it e d States: C h e t Susan na lo o . W in n ie I Ion. ( ' het I le n ry I lugh, Susan I

I he lirc tiih 0) (i 11'ok-



us to the local m arkets, iloi />, and the cake flips over.

Chans words ring 111 my ears as I arrive back in

O n the stove beside him. Napa cabbage braises with

I long Kong on my way to meet C h e f Kevin Clink

Chinese mushrooms, and in the last station chicken

o f the Chinese Cuisine Training Institute. C h e f

stock simmers in a mammoth 28-inch wok.

Chuk.a native o f Sichuan province, is adamant that

C h e f Ip tells me that the Cantonese-style

nothing compares to the practicality o f a light­

carbon-steel wok used by home cooks is also

weight northern-style carbon-steel wok. His style of

ideal for a professional kitchen, but in a larger size

stir-frying relies on holding the wok by its long

and preferably hand-hammered, w hich makes it

metal handle and using the /> < #< >action to keep the

more durable. A Cantonese-style cast-iron wok is

food moving in the rounded bowl-shaped wok; he

too fragile for the rough work environment o f a

The lircnth of «/ 11’«»A*

Tanc Chilli oj I 'lic Wok Shop in San I-min isco lias had orer thirty years of experience aJ rising customers oil hoir to adapt the wok to tin Western kitchen.

professional kitchen. In fact, cast-iron woks are not even manufactured for restaurant use. “ W e prefer the 19-inch Cantonese-style w ok to stirfry, pan-fry, braise, boil, poach, steam, and deep-fry. For great quantities such as banquetstyle food the Cantonese have woks as biii as 48 inches.You can't find northern-style woks larger than IS inches.The pao action would be impossible in such a wok, because it would be too heavy to lift

Chinese kitchen requires adjustment.“ explains I lom.

with its lone metal handle. A 19-inch Cantonese-

I like having the same wok that Chinese cooks

style w ok is more practical — we can easily lift the

used 2,000 years ago. T h e brilliant design o f a tra­

w ok to />