Cooking Chinese food so it does not taste “store bought” can be intimidating to many people, but Chef Kwok-Fei Yip of the Shenyang Marriott Hotel in China offers tips that will make even beginner chefs experts at using a wok. Chef Yip says that having a few crucial tools, including a frying wok, a strainer, a metal cover with a handle, a spatula and a steamer basket, are all a beginner chef needs to get started.
Once armed with the proper tools, it is time to check the pantry for the basic ingredients. Chef Yip says a quality peanut oil is essential for preparing Cantonese cuisine, but any type of oil will do for other regional Chinese cooking. Soy sauce, an ingredient that is common to almost all variations of Chinese cooking, can do double duty when it comes to cooking or marinating. And oyster sauce and chicken bouillon powder are other seasonings commonly used.
The trick to stir frying, reveals Chef Yip, is to stir the oil in the same motion that it is moving in the wok. He never touches the food as he stirs the oil.
Chef Yip says Chinese cuisine is based around vegetables (including spinach, tofu and peppers), meat (beef, pork and poultry), shrimp and fish. The best way to tell if a vegetable is fresh is to cut into it. Chef Yip says, if the edge of the cut is green, then it is fresh but if it shows yellow, it is wilting. In selecting fish, he advises making sure that the scales are intact and there are no scars or cuts on the fish body. If the scales are red, the fish is not fresh. Meat should have a gleaming surface and a sticky feeling when touched.