Cookbook review: The Chinese Takeaway Cookbook by Kwoklyn Wan11th Feb 19 | Lifestyle
Put the phone down and make your own Chinese takeout, says Ella Walker.
Craving noodles and sweet and sour sauce, but feel you ought to work for them first?
A new cookbook from chef, restaurateur and Chinese cuisine expert, Kwoklyn Wan (also brother of Gok), should be able to help.
The Chinese Takeaway Cookbook features all the dishes you’d usually find yourself poring over when hungry and tired on a Friday night, except now you can make them yourself…
The book: The Chinese Takeaway Cookbook by Kwoklyn Wan
Who will love it? Anyone who enjoys scoffing spring rolls and slurping chicken and sweetcorn soup, is in awe of their local Chinese takeout wok masters, or who just wants to be able to get fried rice right.
What is it trying to get us cooking? The food you regularly ring up your local Chinese takeout for, from sweet and sour chicken balls and egg fried rice, to chicken chow mein and crispy aromatic duck with hoisin sauce and pancakes. The recipes aren’t an approximation of what your delivery driver would hand over with a bag of prawn crackers either, but the actual dishes you’d ring for on a Friday night. You can trust them too; Wan grew up working in his family’s Chinese, and then Cantonese, restaurants in Leicester – he knows his stuff.
How easy is it to use? It’s very straightforward – sure, not quite as straightforward as just calling your local takeaway – but if you do your chopping ahead and have a hot wok ready, most of the dishes are speedy to cook (and ideal for midweek dinners), with only a few steps to wrangle with. It’s just a matter of being prepared and stocking up on specific Chinese ingredients and seasonings first.
The best recipe is… The Wandering Dragon – the name alone would be enough, but then it has the crunch and snap of bamboo shoots and baby corn, as well as heft from chicken and king prawns. Mmmm.
The recipe we’re most likely to post pictures of on Instagram is… The crispy seaweed, purely because we’d be so proud of ourselves for having recreated it.
The dish we’re least likely to try is… The shredded crispy chilli beef, as we’re concerned that once we started making our own, we might never stop. It’s just too good.
Overall rating: 8/10 – the recipes are colourful, quick and fresh looking, but there are still moments when nothing but professionally deep fried prawn toast will do.
How to make Kwoklyn Wan’s sweet chilli crispy chicken wings…
1.6kg chicken wings
1/2tsp freshly ground black pepper
1tsp grated fresh ginger
Vegetable oil for frying
4 garlic cloves, crushed
3 large, dried red chillies, de-seeded and cut into quarters
60ml light soy sauce
120ml runny honey
1tbsp rice wine vinegar
1tbsp palm sugar
1tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
1. Pat the chicken wings with kitchen paper to make sure they are absolutely dry. Cut the tips off each wing and then cut each wing in half.
2. Put the chicken into a large bowl and mix with the salt, pepper and ginger. Add the cornflour to a separate large bowl, then thoroughly coat each chicken wing, gently squeezing to make sure the flour is sticking. Put the coated wings on a plate and set aside.
3. Heat a large non-stick wok over a medium to high heat. Add one to two tablespoons of oil, then fry the garlic and chillies for 30 seconds, taking care not to burn the garlic. Add the soy sauce, honey and vinegar, mix well and simmer for a couple of minutes. Add the palm sugar and stir until fully dissolved. Remove from the heat and set aside.
4. Put enough vegetable oil in a large saucepan to be deep enough to deep-fry the wings, and heat to 170°C (340°F). Gently fry the wings in batches of five, cooking for eight to 10 minutes, depending on the thickness of each wing piece. Turn the wings frequently to ensure even cooking. Remove wings and drain on a wire rack. Continue until all the wings are fried.
5. Once all the wings are cooked and slightly cooled, reheat the oil (to the same temperature) and fry the wings again for another 12 minutes, until golden brown and crispy, remembering to turn the wings frequently. Remove and drain on a wire rack and repeat with the rest of the wings.
6. When all the chicken has been double-fried, reheat the sauce in the wok, add the wings and mix well to coat. Transfer to a serving plate, sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and serve straightaway.
The Chinese Takeaway Cookbook by Kwoklyn Wan is published by Quadrille, priced £15. Photography Sam Folan. Available now.
© Press Association 2019