Never Use a Recipe

Most of the time, when I do “Asian” food, I do not use a recipe. I so a bit of taste and test and just throw in an average amount of each ingredient. If you read the ingredients on a basic seasoning packet you buy in the store: sugar, cornstarch, garlic powder, sesame seed oil, and small amounts of citric acid and spices.

I usually marinate my chicken two or three days beforehand. Sesame seed oil, soy sauce, fresh crushed garlic. crushed red pepper flakes, and some onion powder. The day I cook the meal, I’ll sear the chicken in a wok until it’s nice and crispy. (I keep the juice is marinated in.) Then I’ll set the chicken aside while I’m working on the rest. Sometimes I’ll chop up the chicken meat into smaller pieces, but today I wanted people to be able to take larger pieces if they wanted. My FIL isn’t eating carbs so I wanted him to be able to fill up.

The biggest thing people need to remember when cooking “Asian” style food, especially with a wok, is that you need to use some intense heat. Normally, I prefer to cook on the griddle top using propane gas, but it’s still a bit too hot outside to do that comfortably. If you’re cooking over the stove, crank the heat up to high and get the oil hot. I toss my aromatics into the oil to get it infused with the flavor.

Fresh garlic, fresh ginger. I like using the paste if I don’t have fresh. I add thinly sliced onions and julienned carrots, toss those a bit in the oil. Then I’ll add the broccoli. Put a lid on to let it steam. Once it’s going tender in the middle I’ll add thinly sliced cabbage, green beans, red pepper (or green when our garden only has that), and mushrooms (I like to precook these so they’re tender). I don’t like to cook this for too long because it’ll get soggy.

In a separate pot while the vegetables are getting happy, I’ll place the juices from marinating, along with some chicken stock (I use homemade, but if you use store bought, remember it can make this salty). I add a generous amount of soy sauce. When I’m making my sauce, I don’t usually use the fresh seasonings because I don’t want it to be chunky. I’ll use a spoonful of garlic paste, a splash of ginger paste, a spoonful of honey (you can use sugar, it’s the sweet that brings out flavor), a spoonful of cornstarch mixed with water, a glug of oyster sauce, white pepper, onion powder, and a bit of dark soy sauce.

Dark soy sauce and light soy sauce are things they reference in “Asian” recipes a bunch. Which is very different from the Kikkoman people are used to getting in the grocery store. ❤ Kikkoman! So three important rules of soy sauce:

  • If it says light soy sauce in a recipe, you can use all purpose soy sauce such as Kikkoman.
  • If a recipe just says “soy sauce” just use an all purpose or light.
  • Do NOT use dark soy sauce unless the recipe calls for it.

A few fun facts about dark soy sauce. Some people will tell you it’s only used to darken the color of a sauce, but dark soy sauce has a very strong flavor that can be overpowering. You never want to use dark soy sauce straight on your food. Dark needs to be cooked to open up the flavor and should be used sparingly because it has a much higher sodium count than all purpose soy sauces. If you’ve ever wondered why your stir fry noodles don’t look like the ones from “Asian” restaurants, it’s the dark soy sauce that gives them the coloration difference.

It took me awhile to realize this when I first started trying to recreate some of my favorite restaurant dishes. I like Char Kway Teow, a wide, flat rice noodle dish, and Mei Fun, which is a vermicelli style, thin rice noodle. Ethnically, I’m Filipino, but I was raised in the Deep South by Caucasian parents. So my knowledge of Eastern foods has all been very experimental. I know there is a traditional Filipino dish called Pancit that I love to eat. It’s not something I’ve tried to cook at home myself though. If you’d like to know more about soy sauce, I recommend this page. It’s sad, but I really do enjoy reading about food.

I got completely off track on a tangent… So you cook all of those ingredients in a pot to taste. You can add some hot chili oil to this as well if you’re family likes heat in their food. Today’s was a bit strong for myself and MIL, but my SO, step daughter, and FIL found it to be perfect for them. If the sauce isn’t thick enough, add a bit more of the cornstarch slurry. It should go a long way though. I add the chicken to the sauce pot to get it well soaked and then pour it all overtop the vegetables in the wok. Tossing everything until well-coated.

I sprinkle a little everything bagel seasoning on mine after because my family really likes that crunch. Very untraditional… Did I mention I just make this up as I go? I’m not formally trained or anything… Anyhow, thanks for ready!

Published by Erin Seto

Southern Peach 🍑, in her 30’s - Artist 🎨 + Bibliophile 📚 + Geek 🎮 + Nerd 👓 + Animal-Lover 🐾 + Bipolar Disorder 💢 x Anxiety 😨 x PTSD 💣÷ DBT Therapy ✨ + Mental Health Matters 🧠 = ME 👩🏽

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