January 2, 2009 1:48 AM   Subscribe

Seeking >20 minute recipes, but with a twist: I'm in China, and that means I have a wok, vegetable oil, garlic, black pepper, salt, sichuan peppers, no cheese, and limited options on Western meats. Also got a couple other pans, but nothing to specialized. Aside from the usual (fried rice), what are some interesting meals I can make with this in 20 minutes?
posted by saysthis to Food & Drink (11 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
This might be too painfully obvious (and I really don't mean to be snarky) but have you considered making Chinese food? In 20 minutes with a wok, I can usually whip out one dish, two if the prep work is minimal. I'd highly recommend trying different Chinese dishes, if you're not against going in that direction. You're really not just limited to the American concept of stir fry (aka: stir fry veggies in a bland teriyaki sauce). You can also try using ginger and green onions to change things up.

Having said that, I've made plenty of non-Asian food in a wok, and it generally works fine. This is particularly true if there's the flat bottom is particularly large.
posted by mittenedsex at 3:15 AM on January 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

(If you ARE looking for Chinese recipes, I will be back with links and recipes :-D)
posted by mittenedsex at 3:16 AM on January 2, 2009

You can make awesome omelets in seconds in a wok (if it's made of carbon steel, make sure the wok is well-seasoned to ensure it's non-stick. You season a new wok by coating it with oil, heating it as hot as you can, let it cool, wipe it with a paper towel, repeat several times.)

To your omelet you can add spring onions (scallions), mushrooms, chicken, shrimp ...

I'd also recommend buying a bamboo steamer, so you can cook steamed fish and dim sum.
posted by essexjan at 3:45 AM on January 2, 2009

You can make standard sauces in a wok. Put them on seared tofu/tempeh/seitan or pasta. How about some tex-mexican food like refried beans or chili. Lots of indian food like dhals, aloo gobi, chana masala. Lots of thai food. Depending on the size you can make soups in a wok.

Much vegetarian stuff is stove-top only, and a wok can be used as a fry pan or small saucier.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 4:51 AM on January 2, 2009

Step 1: Head out the door.

2: Down the stairs.

3: Turn right and head to the end of the danwei to the baozi dealer (No, not the guy in the middle of the block that smells of garlic and leers at the women, his are way too doughy, the woman with the bad teeth that smells of garlic with the really small baozi way down at the end).

4: On way back stop at the fruit seller (the one with the really good Xinjiang pears and the good Dragon fruit not the guy with the bananas), buy apple.

5: Stop at sweet potato vendor.

6: Up the stairs. Time elapsed 10 min. Money spent 20RMB (most of that for the apple)

7: Yum. You're in China, street food is delicious and super cheap!

Seriously though get yourself some steamer baskets and start making steamed buns and dumplings. It's especially good to do this in the winter because it humidifies your apartment. You can get pre made jaozi skins for cheap at the market, not sure about your market, but this is usually near the noodle vendors.

Also as suggested above, Chinese food. Tomato and egg is really, really, really easy. Gong bao chicken is easy. Fry noodles in place of fried rice, or don't fry them in oil, heat them in a little soy sauce and rice vinegar.
posted by Pollomacho at 5:31 AM on January 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Pad Thai is fucking awesome and is best cooked in a wok.
posted by waraw at 7:00 AM on January 2, 2009

I saw Guo Yue make this dish at Womad a couple of years ago: I tried it at home and it was delicious!

Fry beaten eggs (approx 1 per person) mixed with finely sliced spring onion in a hot wok til cooked/nearly cooked. Add sliced tomatoes and zucchini in equal quantities and season with salt and sugar. Add some white wine (or rice wine vinegar I suppose?) and light soy sauce and a little sesame oil until it tastes good. When cooked, serve with white rice.

I also saw him make a fish dish where he put some slices of fresh ginger into cuts he'd made in a piece of fish, and then fried it in oil. When the fish was nearly cooked, he covered it with a load of sliced (lengthwise, green bits also) spring onions, a cup or two of white wine and a dash of soy and a little sesame oil. Then he put the lid on and steamed it for a few minutes.

My standard 'I'm in a real hurry and want to EAT' dish is this one, which I saw on Ricki Lake (of all places) years ago. I should think you could get all the ingredients in China? If you have trouble with western vinegar, maybe you could substitute a dark rice vinegar?

Cook spaghetti/pasta. Meanwhile, in a frying pan, heat oil and add heaps of peeled but un-crushed garlic (say, 3-6 cloves). When garlic is starting to brown, add a pinch of crushed chillis and a tin or two of tomatoes. Adjust the seasoning (salt, pepper, red wine/balsamic vinegar, sugar) to taste. Simmer until the spaghetti is ready, remove the garlic, and mix in some ripped up fresh basil. Add the drained spaghetti to the pan with the sauce, mix and serve.
posted by Emilyisnow at 7:38 AM on January 2, 2009 [2 favorites]

I get it. I love Asian flavor but I don't think I would like it every day.

Ok... I'm making pork chops tonight. Pretty much anything can be converted. Cube up and pan fry some pork (loin, or white meat), with salt pepper and a slight amount of garlic. Pull it out and throw in some sliced up apple. Saute until slighty wilted, brown is ok. Pull them out and throw in either chopped up noodles or cooked cubed potatoes, with oil of course. Pull them out when they are nice and brown. Deglaze your pan with a little water and add some some starch or flour, and some cream if you can get it. Gravy westernizes everything. Green beans would be excellent with this.

Can you get tomatoes/ketchup in any form? I can help you through meat loaf or Tex-mex style chicken with some form of tomatoes. How about a lemon-pepper piccata? What ingredients can you get? Never been to China, so I am limited on knowledge of their groceries. Playing Iron Chef is fun. I live in Texas though, so my sense of flavor reflects that. When I travel and plan to cook I bring seasoning with me, after that local meat and produce is no problem. Have someone mail you a ziplock bag of seasoning!
posted by kgn2507 at 8:08 AM on January 2, 2009

I can help you through meat loaf or Tex-mex style chicken with some form of tomatoes.

It's not so much ingredients that are lacking (though cheese and western cuts of meat are expensive), it's the equipment. Most people have no oven. Think of it as cooking everything over a gas hotplate. So, if I'm not off base here, the question is sort of "what can I cook over a gas hotplate in 20 minutes or less (without cheese)."
posted by Pollomacho at 11:04 AM on January 2, 2009

On hot plate, with only a stove top wok...

Saute some bell peppers, onions, carrots, and squash depending on what you have, until tender, remove and set aside. In a bowl, combine:

a cup ground meat (pork, beef, turkey, etc.)
a spoonful of bread/cracker crumbs or air-dried bread torn as small as you can
a cup of your cooked veggies mashed
an egg
a sponful of tomatoes or ketchup
dash of salt, dash of pepper, bit of garlic
(dash of sugar/sweetener if not using ketchup)

Form into balls or patties. You can steam them over your wok or pan fry them gently until cooked through. Remove meat and deglaze your pan with a bit of water. Add tomatoes and a bit of sugar (or ketchup) and about the same amount of veggies and cook/mash them down until it is a very nice chunky sauce. You can make it spicy or sweeter to taste. I would serve a little bed of veggies with a meatloaf and then topped with sauce.
posted by kgn2507 at 12:19 PM on January 2, 2009

I'm also an expat in Beijing, who likes to eat both Chinese and non-Chinese food. I tend to cook a lot because I've eaten out in a lot of Beijing's restaurants and for the most part the non-Chinese stuff tends to be both overpriced and not that good.

Beyond the usual stir-fries, you can also make soup in your wok, which essentially comprises of chopping up some vegetables, adding some broth, and letting the soup come to a boil.

The website Appetite for China has excellent recipes, both for Chinese and non-Chinese food. It's written by a Chinese-American in Beijing.

Have you tried making non-Northern Chinese food as well? When I've eaten too much jiachangcai, I like the clean tastes of Cantonese, although ironically it can be more difficult to find the ingredients in Beijing than in a Cantonese-heavy area like Los Angeles.

Here is one very quick recipe that is full of goodness and is very fast. Take some shrimp, better if it's fresh of course, marinate it in lemon and lime juices. Chop up some ginger, chili peppers, and coriander (cilantro). Add a bit of oil into the wok, then toss in the ginger and chili to impart their flavours. Then toss in the shrimp, once it has become pink put in the juices as well. Once cooked, add the coriander at the last minute to let it wilt. It's great in a tortilla.
posted by so much modern time at 3:20 PM on January 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

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