The Breath of a Wok: Unlocking the Secrets of Chinese Wok Cooking Through Recipes and Lore by Grace Young and Alan Richardson

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Notes about this book

  • Eat Your Books

    2005 International Association of Culinary Professionals Award Winner

Notes about Recipes in this book

  • Uncle Sherman's home-style chicken and vegetables

    • Jane on January 25, 2011

      I liked this stir-fry a lot. The chicken had good flavor from its marinade of ginger, garlic & soy. The veggies were varied with broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy and button mushrooms. Extra flavor was added with black bean sauce. A stir-fry that's above the average.

    • Breadcrumbs on December 05, 2015

      p. 69 – This is a dish I’ve made time and time again due to its versatility. Any veggies will do and it’s a great way to use up whatever is left in the crisper. The meat can be tossed in a ziplock with the marinade in the morning and this means the dish comes together in no time at the end of the day. I use chili bean sauce though I know folks who use black bean sauce in this dish. Like Jane, we really enjoy this stir-fry. Photo here: http://www.chowhound.com/post/january-2011-cookbook-month-breath-wok-756703?commentId=9773963

    • Skamper on June 06, 2021

      This had a milder flavor than I expected, and was a good accompaniment to the spicy garlic eggplant. I used a bit less chicken (9 oz) and compensated with more veggies. Used splenda instead of sugar.

  • Cousin Zane's Sichuan beef

    • Jane on January 25, 2011

      I had to do a bit of adjusting to this recipe since I didn't exactly match on the ingredients. The flank steak was sirloin tips and the green bell pepper was broccoli. But really liked it, and the kids did too. The beef was marinated in rice wine, soy and ginger for 30 mins before being drained. The beef is then stir-fried with more ginger then drained while the vegetables cook. The sauce of hoisin, chile bean paste, ketchup and soy was really tasty, not too spicy for the kids, but enough flavor for me. Definitely going in my stir-fries rotation.

    • Breadcrumbs on January 19, 2011

      p. 95 - Another hit from BoaW! We loved this dish. Like many of Young’s recipes, you sear your beef for a minute then stir-fry until it's beginning to brown then in this case you remove it along w any pan juices and drain it over a plate. Well, my juices were plentiful and later on when the directions said to stir the broth back in, I accidently poured those juices in, forgetting my broth. Not sure how things would have turned out if it had been made properly but we loved it this way. There was plenty of rich-flavoured, gravy-like sauce that was just delicious. I’m almost afraid to make it the right way since we enjoyed this so much. One of our favourites so far. I’d highly recommend this dish. k9

    • JoanN on October 08, 2018

      p. 95 -- Everyone on Wok Wednesday keeps raving about the sauce. Didn't do it for me. Probably the catsup which I don't care for under any circumstances, and the hoisin. I just don't like all that sweetness with my meat. Fine technique, but I'd prefer a different flavor profile.

  • Henry Hugh's lotus root with sugar snaps

    • Breadcrumbs on January 25, 2011

      A nice blend of crispy, fresh, crunchy veggies dressed in a very mild sauce. The subtle sweetness that the Lotus Root adds to this dish is what really elevates it. The Chinatown grocer was very helpful in instructing me to select an unblemished root with a creamy-pink hue. She also was quick to instruct me not to break root segments apart. The lotus root looks a bit like a string of sausages! Evidently it’s bad luck to pull the root sections apart. As instructed, I stored the root in the fridge until I needed it. To prepare, you simply treat it as you would a potato. Give it a good clean, trim, peel and slice. In this case Young instructs you to halve the root lengthways then cut into 1/4 inch half-moon shaped slices. I elected to slice mine much thinner since I intended to skip the blanching step to save time. This dish is very basic but we appreciated its freshness and subtle flavours, a perfect accompaniment to two our two other spicy dishes. I’d make this again.

  • Susanna Foo's tofu, eggplant, mushrooms, and sun-dried tomatoes

    • Breadcrumbs on February 08, 2011

      p. 143 - This recipe has been on my mind since I first spotted it in the book. Last night my husband, a tofu-hater was attending a business function so it was the perfect occasion for me to pull out my wok and give this a stir. So glad I did because this dish was absolutely delightful, I loved it! Since I like my tofu on the dryer side, I placed it between sheets of paper towel and weighted it over a strainer to expedite the draining.I didn’t have all the suggested veggies on hand so used my own blend of king mushrooms, shitakes, 2 Chinese eggplants, sun-dried tomatoes, spring onions, garlic, red peppers and 3 Thai bird peppers.I absolutely loved this dish. The sauce was well-balanced and seemed to enhanced the caramelized flavours of the eggplant and sweetness of the sun-dried tomatoes. I would definitely recommend the use of King mushrooms, I loved their meaty texture and it was a really nice compliment to the other textures in the dish. Can't wait to make this again!

  • Spicy garlic eggplant

    • Breadcrumbs on January 11, 2011

      p. 144 -Originally I hadn’t intended to make this dish but when I saw Chinese eggplant during my trip to the market today, I couldn’t resist them and once home, I found this recipe. Hands down this is our new favorite way to prepare eggplant. I think the Chinese (long) eggplant made a difference, they didn't seem to be as acidic. This was a perfect, scrumptious dish.

    • PrincessK on February 10, 2011

      pg 144 Even appeals to eggplant haters.

    • smtucker on August 16, 2013

      Delicious. House favorite during Japanese eggplant season.

    • wcassity on September 03, 2019

      Great use of summer Japanese eggplant. Good, spicy kick. Everyone liked.

    • Skamper on June 06, 2021

      This was delicious. I had just over 1 lb of eggplant but used full amounts of everything else, except red pepper flakes - used a scant half teaspoon because we are wimps. though I probably could have used a tad more. steamed the eggplant (not in the wok because mine isn't flat bottomed) a bit in advance and let it sit for about 30 minutes. this didn't seem to hurt.

  • Stir-fried pork and chilies CCTI

    • Breadcrumbs on January 25, 2011

      p. 90 - This dish was good, not great. As always I omitted the salt because the recipe calls for soy sauce. If I were to make this dish again, I’d likely reduce the soy as we still found the saltiness of this to be a bit pervasive. This is the first dish I’ve made that's included the cloud ear mushrooms and we especially enjoyed the texture they added to this dish. They worked very well w the bamboo shoots. When I first stirred the broth mixture into the wok I worried this dish was going to be a bit soupy but the sauce quickly thickens and clings nicely to the pork and vegetables. We served this with Henry Hugh’s Lotus Root w Sugar Snaps from BoaW and the Chinese Indian Chicken Manchurian from p. 142 of SFSE.

  • Tina Yao Lu's chicken with spinach

    • Breadcrumbs on January 07, 2011

      p. 74 - I took some liberties with this dish in the interest of timesaving. I used baby spinach instead of using the regular stuff and since it was very tender, I skipped the pre-cooking stage and simply added it in at the end once the broth has been incorporated into the stir-fry. I also used boxed chicken stock instead of homemade. That said, I don’t believe the final product suffered at all for my adaptations and it made for a satisfying dish that was quick and easy to pull together. The chicken was ridiculously tender and the mushrooms and spinach helped flavor the sauce. I was expecting the dish to be a bit bland based on the individual ingredients but somehow it comes together to make a very tasty dish that we’d be happy to have again

    • lilham on May 30, 2012

      I used baby spinach instead of the regular stuff. Knorr chicken broth instead of homemade. I also substituted with a mix of brocolli and cauliflower for the mushroom. I don't like the end result at all. It reminded me of drinking down rice with a big bowl of chinese soup when I was a kid. I don't think the use of mushrooms would change that.

  • Sweet and sour chicken

    • Breadcrumbs on February 01, 2011

      p. 76 - I had 2lbs of chicken in the fridge so decided on 2 chicken dishes tonight and this was one of them since I had all the other ingredients on hand. I’d passed by this on a couple of occasions as I don’t tend to like overly sweet dishes but on closer inspection saw that there was minimal sugar in this recipe -1 tbsp plus 1 tsp along w 2 tbsp of ketchup. Given the quantity of other ingredients in the sauce, I imagined this wouldn’t be too sweet at all and, I was right. We really enjoyed this well-balanced dish. The chicken was super-tender and the sauce itself was soy forward but balanced w the other ingredients. I'd make this again.

    • meggan on October 13, 2021

      Great weeknight meal. We added a little cabbage to beef up the veg.

    • ashallen on April 28, 2021

      Sweet-and-sour isn't my favorite stir-fry style, but this recipe was the best I've tried so far - the sauce wasn't gloppy or overly sweet. My husband, who *is* a sweet-and-sour fan, loved this dish. This is a relatively saucy stir-fry. I ended up reducing the sauce a longer time than specified in the recipe (removed other ingredients from wok so they wouldn't overcook) to further intensify the flavors to the level I wanted.

  • Chicken with Sichuan peppercorns CCTI

    • Breadcrumbs on December 07, 2010

      p. 68 - Dec 2010 - I just recently purchased this book so this was my first use of this recipe and, the book. I was delighted to see how quick this dish was to assemble and prepare. Chicken is tossed w rice wine, cornstarch salt and pepper then browned in the hot wok along w some dried chilies. A sauce of soy, vinegar sesame oil chili oil, sugar, broth and rice wine is added along with green onions, garlic and ginger. A deceptively tasty dish with a great amount of heat . . . the kind that builds as you eat. Served this along with some stir-fried bok choy w garlic and some peanut noodles w veggies. I'd definitely make this again.

    • ashallen on June 09, 2021

      The flavors in this dish were great. Something about them reminded me of pepperoni (the pepper??) ...but since I love pepperoni, I was happy. Strong, salty, spicy flavors. I ate this with stir-fried bok choy and plain rice and they did a great job of balancing it out. Since I'm a chili wimp, I substituted 1 tsp sriracha for the chili oil + dried red chilies and that was enough heat for me!

  • Stir-fried chicken and shallots

    • Breadcrumbs on January 26, 2011

      p. 68 - I wanted another protein to serve with the Beef Chow Fun and it needed to be super-quick. This dish fit the bill. It exceeded our expectations. Flavour exceeded effort three-fold! Prep is minimal. Boneless, skinless chicken is cut into 1 inch cubes then marinated in soy, rice wine, sugar, cornstarch, salt and pepper. I pulled this together in a ziplock bag in the morning to save time at night. The shallots really shine in the final dish, adding just the right amount of sweetness and depth. Super-simple, totally tasty. This was a perfect, quick and delicious week-night dish that we’ll make again.

    • sarahcooks on November 08, 2013

      Very flavorful, but unfortunately the shallots were pretty much raw. Next time I'd put them in sooner and cut them smaller.

    • wcassity on January 30, 2012

      Best recipe I have cooked from this book so far. Not heavy, very flavorful. The shallots and the black beans were great.

  • Kung Pao chicken

    • Breadcrumbs on January 30, 2011

      p. 74 - We liked this dish but it wasn’t a knock-out. Our main issue w this dish is for whatever reason, it just seemed to lack flavour and certainly, lacked the heat I’d expect from Kung Pao. I opened a fresh package of chilies from Penzey’s for this recipe so was reluctant to increase the quantity without knowing how much heat they’d yield, especially since they were split for the recipe. In hindsight, I’d have tripled the amount. The red bell peppers didn’t do anything for the dish either really, no heat for their sweetness to tame. Don't think I'll make this version again.

    • ashallen on July 10, 2021

      This is a nice stir-fry but we didn't find it to be quite as fabulous as some of the author's other stir-fries. Like Breadcrumbs, we thought it seemed to lack a savory flavor layer or two. While looking up this recipe on EYB, I saw that the author published a revised version of this recipe in her book Stir Frying to the Sky's Edge that includes Sichuan peppercorns and sesame oil - those sound like good additions. Also, it probably didn't help that I was 3 oz short on chicken (though I did use thighs) and used the balsamic vs. Chinkiang vinegar option. I used two chile de arbol (very fresh; seeds & ribs removed) and the dish was definitely spicy enough for us, but it really doesn't take much heat to impress me! The sweet, juicy chunks of red bell pepper helped with balancing out the heat. Recipe available online at https://www.amateurgourmet.com/2007/04/big_trouble_lit.html

  • Liang Nian Xiu's snow peas, tomatoes, and chilies

    • Breadcrumbs on January 19, 2011

      p. 132 - We really liked the sound of this recipe when I first read through the ingredients and I was determined to make it despite the fact we only had Sugar Snap Peas and no pork belly. Instead, we used a little ground pork and plodded along regardless! This is really, really quick and easy. The de-stringing of the peas is definitely the most time consuming step! Oil is added to a hot wok then pork, ginger, garlic, Thai bird chilies - doubled in our case and salt - omitted are stir-fried for 1 minute before the Peas are added and tossed around for a minute as well. Then some chopped tomato, sugar and salt are added and stir-fried together until your peas are tender. I loved this, the SS peas were hot and crunchy and my Thai chilies added the perfect heat. The ground pork ended up working really well w the sugar and tomatoes. We really enjoyed this one and will definitely have it again. k8

    • lilham on July 31, 2015

      Delicious. But so simple and quick. I used bacon and omitted the salt.

  • Stir-fried sugar snap peas with water chestnuts

    • Breadcrumbs on February 01, 2011

      p. 135 - I was able to find fresh water chestnuts in Chinatown so we were really looking forward to this dish. It didn’t disappoint and was quite tasty. The finished dish is fresh, crunchy and delicious in its simplicity. I would have been satisfied with a big bowl of this alone for dinner. Really nice, the fresh water chestnuts are a must in my humble opinion. We’ll definitely have this again.

  • Dickson Hee's oyster lo mein

    • Breadcrumbs on January 30, 2011

      p. 124 - I was looking for an alternative to rice tonight and since I had all ingredients on hand, thought I’d give this a try. This dish underwhelmed. Noodles were cooked, drained, rinsed and mixed w a sauce of sesame oil, oyster sauce, soy and sugar. Oil is heated in your wok and garlic is stir-fried until fragrant then noodles are tossed in. Scallions and the optional julienned were then tossed in before serving. My noodles were fresh but even they couldn’t perk up the flavours of this dish. Just one note and, unfortunately that note was boring!! I wouldn’t recommend this dish and that’s a first for me from these COTM’s.

  • Ken Lo's chow fun with beef and broccoli

    • Breadcrumbs on January 04, 2011

      p. 119 - Looks great. Calls for 1lb of FRESH broad rice noodles for optimum results so will look around for those.

    • chawkins on April 27, 2013

      An unusual but delightful way to make chow fun. Grace Young called for fresh unrefrigerated ho fun, but the Chinese grocery store here sell them from the refrigerator case, I can't get fresh ones unless I drive over to Philly, but it is not a problem, just cut them in strips then microwave them for a couple of minutes and they'll soften and are just like fresh ones, you can then separate them into individual strands. The recipe have you spread the ho fun in the wok and swirl two eggs over them, I found that two eggs is a tad too skimpy to hold all the noodles together, so next time I'll use three or even four eggs. Also make the noodle cake first, then the beef, followed by the broccoli, this way you can get away with not having to wash the wok in between.

  • Millie Chan's chili shrimp

    • Breadcrumbs on October 01, 2015

      p. 105 – This is an exceptional dish. One of three stir-fries I prepared yesterday and this one outshone the rest. As chawkins notes here, the brining ensures the shrimp are plump and juicy with a nice crunch. I upped the ante when it came to the chilies though. I used 1 mild chili and 2 Thai bird chilies. Wouldn’t change a thing next time around. We loved this. Photo here: http://www.chowhound.com/post/cooking-fall-2015-show-meals-1025190?commentId=9736388#9736388

    • chawkins on December 30, 2013

      The shrimps took on a crunchy texture after being brined. The chile bean paste and ginger provided just enough spiciness. Very nice dish.

  • Martin Yan's Genghis Khan beef

    • Breadcrumbs on January 19, 2011

      p. 91 - Wow! We just loved this dish. I’ve never prepared flank steak in this manner in the past and was skeptical as to whether it would be tender with only 20 minutes of marinating. Typically I’d marinate overnight prior to grilling and slicing for service. Well, I needn’t have worried because those little cubes of beef were tender, juicy and had just the right amount of pinkness in the centre for our tastes. The sauce itself was gravy-like in appearance and had just the right amount of heat. So glad we tried this recipe, everyone loved it and I’ll be happy to add it to my collection of Chinese go-to recipes. k9

    • smtucker on February 04, 2015

      Third time I have made this recipe and it is just delicious. Only had one serrano so added some chili sauce [angry grandmother] to add more heat. Might be just a tad too sweet; try reducing hoisin to 1.5 tbl.

    • TrishaCP on March 20, 2021

      We also loved this recipe. The flank steak was very tender. This didn’t read too sweet to me- my guess is the brand of hoisin sauce used can make a difference.

    • chawkins on March 08, 2013

      It's been couple of years since I last made this, it is still as good as I remember it to be. I used blade steaks instead of flank steak because I think they are more flavorful, just cut each steak into 2 strips around the middle connective tissue and discard that, then cut the strips into cubes. I added sugar snap peas this time because they needed to be used and it was a nice addition.

    • ashallen on June 04, 2021

      Very tasty stir-fry! I deviated in a few ways from the recipe. Substituted sriracha sauce for chili sambal and, since I'm a chili wimp, substituted a red bell pepper for the red Thai chilies. I also chopped my scallions into 1/2" versus 3" chunks. So overall less heat, more sweetness, and more vegetable-y than intended by the author, but still very good. Loved the plentiful garlic.

  • Mary Chau's Shanghai-style snow cabbage and edamame

    • PrincessK on February 10, 2011

      pg. 135 Keeper per Q: also suggests eliminating the final soy sauce addition and replacing it with broth.

  • Uncle Lang' s pan-fried sea bass

    • JoanN on October 22, 2018

      Made this with striped bass from the farmers market. Excellent technique for keeping the fish moist. Served on a bed Stir-Fried Garlic Lettuce (page 139).

  • Uncle Lang's three teacup chicken

    • JoanN on March 04, 2017

      Made this with biso chicken thighs. Excellent flavor. Quick and easy. Nico had three helpings of rice with sauce.

    • TrishaCP on April 10, 2021

      I also used boneless and skinless thighs and we loved it. Will be happily making this again.

    • lilham on March 28, 2021

      I made this with boneless and skinless chicken thighs. Delicious. The sauce is lovely with rice.

  • Stir-fried pork with scallions

    • JoanN on August 08, 2016

      Made this with recommended alternate, flowering Chinese chives. Quick and easy, and worth making if ingredients need using up, but other chive dishes better.

  • Cousin Sylvia's drumsticks with caramelized onions

    • amraub on August 24, 2012

      I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this dish. I'm trying to clean out the freezer in preparation for a move and found some drumsticks buried in the back. This dish looked perfect as it uses primarily pantry ingredients. The chicken came out great, but the star of the dish for me were the onions. I gave them a bit of extra time for a little bit more caramelization. Will make again, even when not in the middle of a freezer clean-out.

    • chawkins on July 16, 2014

      The taste is good but I'm not happy with the cooking method. You're supposed to pan-fried the drumsticks after cooking the garlic, ginger and onion without cleaning the pan, but unfortunately the chicken stuck to the pan badly resulting in a nasty cleaning job. You probably can achieve the same taste profile by braising with a little water.

  • Danny Chan's steamed salmon with lemon

    • sarahcooks on May 16, 2012

      Very tasty, but cooked a bit sooner than the recipe said, so definitely keep an eye on it. So simple.

    • chawkins on November 17, 2013

      May be my lemon is super tart, I found this to be a little too sour for my taste. Other than that, this is quite good and easy to prepare.

  • Martin Yan's Mandarin five-flavored boneless pork chops

    • eve_kloepper on December 07, 2011

      delicious, but be careful not to overcook the pork. 30 min. is way too long.

    • Bloominanglophile on July 05, 2016

      I found a 2-pack of Neiman Ranch boneless porkchops that were nearly a pound and almost 1" thick, so I sliced them in half for this recipe (quite nice and marbled, too). Don't know why I wasn't as enamoured of this dish as my husband was, but there you go! I will repeat it for him, and it was a quick recipe for weeknight cooking. I only cooked the pork for 10 minutes instead of the suggested 30.

  • Liang Nian Xiu's moon hill corn and beans

    • wcassity on September 10, 2011

      Great summer dish. The flavors of the corn, green beans and tomatoes dominate, accentuated by the ginger and garlic. I added 1/2 lb ground pork and 1 T cilantro.

  • Jean Yueh's beef with onions and peppers

    • wcassity on September 03, 2019

      Nice, quick, classic. Not too heavy. Made it with 2 green bell peppers.

  • Sweet and sour cabbage

  • Florence Lin's slow stir-fried red peppers

  • Ray Lee's Cantonese steamed chicken

    • chawkins on November 17, 2013

      Very tasty. Instead of two whole chicken legs, I used four thighs that I boned after they were cooked and cut the meat into thick slices. Also, instead of using water to mix the wet white and red fermented bean curds together, I used the red bean curd liquid.

  • Chive dumplings Spring Moon

    • chawkins on June 20, 2017

      The dumpling wrappers were not as green as I would like to see, just a light tint of green. The amount of dough and filling were perfect, I got 24 properly filled tasty dumplings. I did not follow her direction for using a tortilla press for the dough, I hand pinched every single one, the way my mom and grandma did, I believe you can get the wrapper thinner than the tortilla press could. I also did not use her direction for steaming, also following my mom's and grandma's method. I laid them in a 9" cake pan in three rows, slightly overlapping, then brush oil over them liberally before steaming. The oil gives a nice sheen to the dough and prevent the dumplings from sticking to one another,

  • Henry Hugh's Cantonese stuffed tofu

    • chawkins on July 17, 2020

      Very good. The stuffing was very flavorful with the dried shrimp and the scallions added. I did not removed and discard some of the tofu from the slit and I was able to get all the stuffing in there without incident, but my box of tofu was 19oz, slightly bigger than the 14 oz called for. I also flipped the tofu one time more than called for, so both flat sides got a chance to braise in the sauce.

  • Ginger and scallion oysters Lichee Garden

    • chawkins on October 21, 2014

      So delicious. I should have doubled the recipe, 6 oysters just weren't enough for the two of us, even with a whole steamed bass and a plate of stir-fried silk gourd. We could each eat half a dozen of the oysters easily. The preparation was simple and the oysters were cooked to perfection with not much shrinkage, just a wonderful dish.

  • Florence Lin's tofu with cilantro relish

    • chawkins on April 18, 2013

      Simple and delicious. Three main ingredients: tofu, cilantro and ginger.

  • Pan-fried noodles with pork Shang Palace

    • chawkins on July 18, 2020

      Made quite a bit of changes to the recipe, substituted the red and green bell pepper with snow peas, bean sprouts and scallion, and added shredded shiitake mushroom, added more broth, oyster sauce and a cornstarch slurry to the sauce and the result eas excellent. What drew me to the recipe was the technique used to pan-fry the Hong Kong style fresh noodle. I used to blanch the noodle before pan-frying, here you skipped that step but add water to the wok as you pan-fried, it worked out very well, the noodle turned out crispier than what I used to get. I will be using this technique going forward.

  • Helen Chen's pork and cucumber

    • chawkins on July 19, 2014

      Good use of my cucumbers from the garden. As I prefer my cooked cucumber to remain crunchy, I strayed from the recipe by salting the cucumber slices and let them sit for 30 minutes and then drained and pressed gently to get rid of excess liquid. I also added the pepper strips a minute or two before I added the cucumber slices and stir-fried them only briefly.

  • Mrs. Miu's chicken with pickled ginger, pineapple, and green pepper

    • chawkins on February 23, 2019

      Quite good. I used red bell pepper and fresh pineapple. Other than the liquid in the chicken marinade, there were no other liquid, so it was quite dry when just cooking the chicken, but once the other ingredients were added, a sauce appeared, the pineapple probably exuded quite a bit of liquid. Next time I’ll add more pickled ginger.

  • Lee Wan Ching's sizzling pepper and salt shrimp

    • chawkins on April 14, 2013

      Very good and came together in no time since you don't even have to peel the shrimps. But a tad difficult to eat since you cook the shrimps with the shells on, may not want to serve it to guests.

  • Stir-fried shrimp with garlic sauce

    • chawkins on March 19, 2019

      As always with her shrimp treatment, the shrimp had an excellent crunch. This is a nice shrimp dish but pales in comparison to Millie Chan's chili shrimp from the same book.

  • Che Chung Ng's scallops with asparagus

    • chawkins on February 25, 2018

      Quick to pull together but somewhat bland to my taste.

  • Stir-fried pork, mushrooms, and carrots

    • hillsboroks on May 02, 2021

      This recipe turned out very good but was a pretty basic Chinese stir-fry. It was a good weeknight supper meal and filled the bill for us as we were craving Chinese food but don't have any decent Chinese restaurants nearby.

  • Virginia Yee's dry-fried Sichuan string beans

    • kitchen_chick on August 27, 2021

      I used half the sugar and we found this dish to be quite sweet. I can’t imagine using the full amount. It’s a nice dish, otherwise, and a good complement to other saltier stir-fry dishes.

    • ashallen on September 02, 2020

      Mmmm, these are decadently delicious string beans. Super-flavorful, sweet and sour, gingery. Definitely oily (like many dry-fried dishes), but because they're so flavorful, a modest serving works and makes a great accompaniment for a more simply-flavored dish. I like the flavor of string beans, but this happens to be a good dish for those who don't care for it much since it's buried beneath all of the other flavors. Recipe recommends using "young" string beans. I was able to get local, in-season beans but they were neither very slender nor "garden fresh" - still came out great!

  • Cousin Kathy's lion head

    • cellenly on March 29, 2019

      Mushroom tolerating child hated the pronounced shiitake flavor. Very pork meatball--too much pork flavor for our family's taste. Need to chop mushrooms and bamboo shoots much smaller because the meatball had a tendency to fall apart or the bits of mushroom/bamboo would fall out. Frying meatballs seasoned wok very well. 3.

  • Lee Wan Ching's Chinese broccoli with ginger sauce

    • ashallen on October 28, 2020

      A nice, simple side dish. The sauce has a light, clean, gingery flavor that works very nicely with the flavor of broccoli. I made a big substitution in that I used the peeled and slivered stems of "regular" broccoli for this dish - worked well. The sauce was light enough that the broccoli flavor still came through, even with the relatively milder flavor of my broccoli stems.

  • Mrs. Miu's stir-fried chicken with cashews

    • ashallen on September 07, 2020

      Very nice stir-fry with comforting, savory flavors - I always think of chicken noodle soup when I eat this dish! With a relatively short ingredient list and no "stages" in the stir-frying, it comes together pretty quickly. Uses *lots* of celery which is super since I always seem to have more than I need in the refrigerator. Recipe says to dice celery - I did a 1/4" dice which worked well and still had some crispness after cooking. When I first looked at the book photo, I thought the large green chunks were celery and I thought "that's a big dice!," but looking more closely, I think they're probably green peppers - recipe headnote mentions adding a pepper as an option.

  • Jean Yueh's Shanghai-style shrimp

    • ashallen on June 26, 2021

      Prepping the shrimp takes a bit of time, but this is otherwise a very quick and easy dish to prepare. The sauce is really great with the shrimp - intensely salty-sweet-savory. I was wondering if it might actually be *too* intense, but it balanced out when eaten with the shrimp, plain rice and a gently seasoned vegetable dish. Based on the book photo, I thought the sauce was maybe a glaze, but it's actually a slightly thickened thin sauce. As noted in the recipe headnote, the shrimp were more evenly seasoned and thoroughly permeated by the sauce after chilling overnight, so leftovers were great.

  • Chicken lo mein

    • ashallen on June 20, 2020

      Despite my husband's intense love of lo mein, I'd been procrastinating on trying to cook it since I'd never stir-fried noodles before and was having visions of a noodle blob glued to my wok. This recipe worked out great with no sticking!! Uses a very reasonable amount of oil. Much more flavorful than our local take-out options. I substituted a red bell pepper for green since we're not big fans of the latter. I also cooked the vegetables for longer than specified in the recipe and julienned vs. sliced the carrots since we like them to be on the more tender side.

  • Stir-fried bok choy

    • ashallen on June 17, 2020

      This is not an intensely flavored recipe, but it was exactly what I wanted it to be - a vegetable that tastes primarily of itself and nicely complements/balances out more strongly flavored dishes. Also easy to make! I didn't dry the bok choy well after washing and this may have made the dish's sauce more watery than it was meant to be. I ended up pushing the cooked bok choy to the cool side of the wok and reducing the sauce on the hot side to thicken it a bit and intensify the flavors before mixing everything together again - worked well.

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  • ISBN 10 0743238273
  • ISBN 13 9780743238274
  • Linked ISBNs
  • Published Sep 20 2004
  • Format Hardcover
  • Page Count 256
  • Language English
  • Countries United States
  • Publisher Simon & Schuster
  • Imprint Simon & Schuster

Publishers Text

2005 IACP Award Winner - International Category:
The Le Cordon Bleu Award!

When Grace Young was a girl, her father instilled in her a lasting appreciation of wok hay, the elusive taste food achieves when properly stir-fried in a wok. As an adult, Young aspired to create that taste in her own kitchen. The quest for wok mastery has taken Young through America, Hong Kong, and China, where she and prize-winning photographer Alan Richardson sought the advice of home cooks, professional cooks, and culinary teachers like Cecilia Chiang, Florence Lin, and Ken Hom. The resulting stories, advice, and recipes, gathered here in an innovative and richly photographed new volume, not only offer expert lessons in the art of wok cooking--they also recapture a beautiful and timeless way of life.


Emphasizing the vitality of cooking with all the senses, The Breath of a Wok transports all the wonders of old-world wok culture to today's modern kitchen. The author's elegant prose yields unforgettable descriptions of artist wok makers, Hong Kong street food, a dumpling party with Amy Tan, and much more. The recipes highlight such classics of wok cooking as Kung Pao Chicken and Moo Shoo Pork, as well as unusual dishes like Sizzling Pepper and Salt Shrimp, Three Teacup Chicken, and Scallion and Ginger Lo Mein.



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