The Great Recipe Challenge – Gung Hei Fat Choi or Kung Hei Fat Choi

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Irene Field
Another week and we enter the third chapter of my great recipe challenge. Which just happened to coincide with Chinese New Year.  I have seen people use both spellings for Chinese New Year ie  Gung Hei Fat Choi or Kung Hei Fat Choi. Research on the Wonderful Wicked Web shed no light on which is correct, and so to placate the purists I will use both.


However, I digress. This blog is supposed to be about my recipe challenge and not the semantics of which phrase to use. Lurking in my book case for some years (try 20 plus) has been Charmaine Solomon’s book “The Complete Asian Cookbook’, first published in 1976.

Confession time from yours truly. Do you know the only ‘recipe’ I have used from this book as such, is a method popular in Asian restaurants to tenderize tough cuts of meat? Therefore in honour of Chinese New Year and to satisfy my recipe challenge to try one new recipe a week, Charmaine’s book was a given.

To the Chinese section I meandered, eyes shut and my finger landed on a wonderful looking picture which was to be my recipe selection. Drum roll please for ‘Ho Lan Dau Chow Ngau Yook’ – try saying that as you wield a pair of chopsticks.

That extremely impressive name translates to ‘Beef with Snow Peas’ As I have stated before, beef really doesn’t roll my rolling pins, but fate had decreed that ‘Ho Lan Dau Chow Ngau Yook’ was meant to be.

Out with the trusty wok – which is actually my ‘double boiler’ when heating milk up for cheesemaking.  Snow Peas? Of course I am aware of what snow peas are, but having never purchased them before I had no idea if they were purchased fresh or frozen. Fortunately here in the confines of the Waikato we have a wonderful Chinese supermarket. Guess what I spied with my little eye – fresh snow peas. The other ingredient was dried Chinese mushrooms. I have used dried shiitake mushrooms before, so decided as they were able to be located in the Chinese supermarket, they would be my dried mushrooms of choice.

The recipe involves marinating beef in soy and salt.  Followed by soaking the dried mushrooms for 30 minutes and stringing the snow peas and blanching for two minutes. So far so good.

The actual cooking is where Chinese recipes come into their own. Everything has to be prepared and you have to move it. No stopping to stare out the kitchen window, no lifting of a delectable red to your lips and savoring the bouquet of a fine wine. It is all hands, legs and all five senses on deck, when cooking Chinese.

Simply the instructions are to stir fry the beef and remove from the wok . Then stir fry mushrooms and spring onions. Add Chinese wine or sherry, sugar and beef stock. Boil, add cornflour mixed in water, and quickly wipe the brow whilst this thickens. One must never, never stop stirring. Then return your beef and snow peas to the wok,  and serve immediately. Well not that immediate. At this point in time you take a large gulp of your wine in appreciation of all of that fast action.

The verdict? The Shiitake (which I have had before) gave the recipe a weird taste. Do dried mushrooms age or go off? If the mushrooms were not there, it would have been a lovely recipe.  If I make this again (note the reference to if) I will use standard mushrooms or leave them out.

Moving on. Watch this space for my next adventure. Will it be edible? Will it be Beef (I certainly hope not)?  I will keep you informed.

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7 thoughts on “The Great Recipe Challenge – Gung Hei Fat Choi or Kung Hei Fat Choi

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  2. Irene I have that same book but it is my Asian cooking bible. I have been trying recipes out of it for years, I must say it is much easier now to source ingredients. As for this weekend I will be sampling strange and exotic things at the Auckland Lantern Festival.

    • I bought the book many years ago in Melbourne, Stephanie. And I think once we got back to NZ to live, the ingredients were hard to source, and I really didn’t do much with it. I will use it more from now on, I am sure.