Ken's Autobiography 'My Stir-Fried Life
Stir-Fried Cucumber with Hot Spices
This is a simple stir-fried cucumber dish from western China
I am always surprised to see people eating cucumbers raw! We Chinese almost never eat them like this. If they are not pickled then they must be cooked. We prefer them when they are in season, young, tender and bursting with juice. This is a simple stir-fried cucumber dish from western China. Once the ingredients are assembled, it is very quick to cook. The chilli and garlic contrast well with the cool, crisp cucumber. Once you get into the habit of cooking cucumbers, you will be delighted by their transformation into a true vegetable.
Preparation Time: 10-12 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4 as a side dish 2 as a main vegetarian course
Peel the cucumbers, slice them in half lengthways and, using a teaspoon, remove the seeds. Then cut the cucumber halves into 2.5cm (1in) cubes. Sprinkle them with 2 teaspoons of salt and mix well, then put into a colander and leave for about 20 minutes to drain. This rids the cucumber of any excess liquid. When the cucumber cubes have drained, rinse them in water and blot them dry with kitchen paper.
Heat a wok or a large frying pan over a high heat until it is hot. Add the oil, and when it is very hot and slightly smoking, add the garlic, black beans, ginger and spring onions and stir-fry for about 30 seconds. Add the cucumbers, chilli bean sauce, sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of black pepper and stir for another 30 seconds, until they are well coated with the spices and flavourings, then add the water and continue to stir-fry over a high heat for 3-4 minutes, until most of the water has evaporated and the cucumbers are cooked through. At this point, add the sesame oil and bring to the table immediately.
Hot Pepper Prawns
Serve it with rice and you have a simple but very impressive meal
I was introduced to this dish one evening when I dined with Madhur Jaffrey and her husband at the Shun Lee Palace restaurant in New York. She suggested it to me, predicting that I would appreciate the imaginative interplay of pungent aromas and spicy flavours. How right she was. This is an exciting taste treat and very easy to prepare.
Preparation Time: 18 minutes
Cooking Time: 4 minutes
Peel the prawns and discard the shells. Using a small sharp knife, split the prawns partially and remove the fine digestive cord. Pat the prawns dry with kitchen paper and combine with the salt, cornflour, and sesame oil and mix well.
Heat a wok or large frying pan until it is hot, then add the oil and prawns. Stir-fry for 1 minute and remove the prawns with a slotted spoon. In the remaining oil, add the chilli, black beans, garlic, and spring onions. Stir-fry for 20 seconds and add the vinegar, soy sauce, and sugar.
Stir in the cornflour mixture and return the prawns to the wok.
Cook for another 2 minutes and serve at once.
Rice Noodles with Broccoli
A delectable vegetarian dish for one or two persons
This recipe takes advantage of the quick cooking characteristics of rice noodles. Cooked for about two minutes and then combined with the blanched broccoli for another few minutes, the noodles make a delectable vegetarian dish for one or two persons. Any leftovers reheat (stir-fry) very nicely.
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 4 minutes
Fill a large pot with water, add salt, and bring to the boil. Separate the broccoli heads into small florets, and peel and slice the stems. Blanch the broccoli pieces in the boiling water for 4 minutes. Place the rice noodles in a large heatproof bowl. Drain the hot water from the blanched broccoli into the rice noodles and immerse the broccoli pieces in cold water. Drain the broccoli thoroughly. Let the noodles stand in the hot water for 2 minutes, then drain.
Heat a wok or large frying pan until it is hot, then add the oil, garlic, and spring onions. Stir-fry for 20 seconds. Stir in the drained rice noodles and broccoli and continue to stir-fry for 1 minute. Then add the water, oyster sauce, dark soy sauce, and sesame oil and cook for 2 minutes.
Turn the mixture onto platter and serve at once.
Stir-Fried Peppers with Scallops
Scallops are fragile, sweetly delicate morsels and need very little preparation or cooking time. They embody the virtues of “quick, easy, delicious
In this recipe, I combine them with nutritious, flavourful, and colourful red and green peppers. The result is a festive looking dish that belies its ease of preparation. Perfect for a family meal or as the centerpiece of dinner party prepared on short notice.
Preparation Time: 18 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Dry the scallops with kitchen paper and set aside. Cut the peppers into 1 in (2.5cm) squares.
Heat a wok or large frying pan until it is hot, then add the oil, spring onions, garlic, and ginger, and stir-fry for 10 seconds. Then add the peppers and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Stir in the scallops and the sauce ingredients. Continue to cook for another 4 minutes. Serve at once.
Variations for this recipe:
Stir-Fried Peas with Fresh Coriander
A quick, easy and tasty vegetable dish
Because of their sweetness and succulent texture, peas are a popular dish in any meal. Here I have enhanced their virtues with some spirited seasonings.
Preparation Time: 11 minutes
Cooking Time: 3 1/2 minutes
If you are using fresh peas, blanch them in boiling water for 2 minutes, drain and set aside. If you are using frozen peas, let them thaw at room temperature. Heat a wok or large frying pan until it is hot, then add the oil.
Add the peas and stir-fry for 30 seconds, then add the fresh coriander, spring onions, garlic, sugar, salt and pepper and continue to stir-fry for 3 minutes or until the peas are cooked. Add the sesame oil and give the mixture a final stir and serve at once.