Introduction

Introduction

By
Jeremy Pang
Contains
0 recipes
Published by
Quadrille Publishing
ISBN
978 184949 5745
Photographer
Martin Poole

We Chinese have a knack of keeping our cooking a secret. It’s almost as if, when the Chinese first started migrating across the world, we held a cultural pact – a unanimous understanding that we should open Chinese restaurants, perhaps, but never give away any of the secrets of Chinese cooking. I suppose it makes sense. After all, we would only be giving our restaurants competition if we did so…

Although my dad was a brilliant home cook and inspired my love for food, he flatly refused to teach me his ‘Chinese kitchen secrets’. Rather, he would insist we children sat and watched while he skipped across the kitchen with cleaver, board and wok and got to work. Twenty minutes later (and far too fast for us to work out what happened) dinner would be on the table. After a few minutes of silent scoffing, he would make us guess exactly what he had put into each dish. Although we’d be none the wiser as to how dinner was made, this daily palate training kept our taste buds constantly excited, and has definitely led me to where I am today.

Being British-born Chinese, I’ve been lucky enough to experience and enjoy the wonders of both cultures and – while my Chinese language skills are terrible, to say the least – I am proud to say I’ve retained this crucial part of my Chinese cultural identity, our love of eating and cooking. In 2009 I decided to share this love by starting the School of Wok and teaching people how to cook Chinese food in their own homes. Truth be told, I was a little fearful that my ambition would be frowned upon by almost all the Chinese restaurateurs in the country. A Chinese cookery school certainly wasn’t part of the unspoken arrangement our families and ancestors all seemed to have made! However, it’s now clear to me that the two aren’t mutually exclusive – there are times when you want to eat at home and others when you just don’t.

And besides, Chinese food really isn’t as daunting to cook as it may at first seem. Like any cuisine, when examined closely and from a basic level, the patterns and techniques it follows quickly become obvious. In the last five years – teaching in completely different environments and with all different types of hob, heat, woks and knives – I have learnt more about Chinese cookery than ever before, and it is through these experiences that I have come to understand what I believe to be its core cooking techniques. These may take a little patience and practice to get the hang of at first (but doesn’t anything in life worth learning?); however, once mastered, they will give you the confidence to create authentic Chinese dishes in any home kitchen environment.

The aim of Chinese Unchopped is to help unravel and demystify the true techniques of Chinese cooking to get you cooking and eating authentic Chinese food at home. Whether you want a simple one-wok-wonder with a bowl of rice on the side or are feeling brave enough to cook three or four dishes to create a feast to impress your friends and family, through my recipes, descriptions and instructions, I hope to be able to help you achieve a wonderful Chinese home-cooking experience.

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