Have you been afraid to tackle an unfamiliar recipe?

I love Chow Fun; my favorite restaurant closed down after 25 years so, with some fear, I decided to try making it. I told myself it might not be that great the first few times but hopefully, I could keep improving. I was most afraid of the fresh rice noodles, was afraid they’d glue together; that turned out to be the easiest part!

I started off with The Woks of Life Beef Chow Fun recipe but I thought it really needed onions, garlic and snow peas, oyster sauce (later on I remembered I like some fermented black beans … I’ll add next time.) So, I looked at many You Tube videos (my cat sat in my lap and watched intently too!) and looked at other recipes online. I then wrote out my revised recipe.

I went to Whole Foods and bought a bit over 1 lb of skirt steak, froze then sliced thinly (should only freeze for 30 minutes!). I learned that my noodles should not have been refrigerated (in the store they were just on an end cap) but mine were in fridge overnight. Some recipes said to soak the meat in cold water for 15 minutes to wash blood out so I did that.

You marinate the beef in regular soy sauce and grapeseed oil, with 2 teaspoons of cornstarch mixed in, for 1 hour.

I stir fried the snow peas in a nonstick skillet because I wanted to get them just right, then I removed them to a bowl to stop the cooking.

Some recipes said I could blanch the noodles in hot water then ice water then drain/dry but I didn’t want to do that. Other recipes said to separate a bit, microwave 30 seconds, 3 times, separating noodles … this was a great idea!

I decided to grate the ginger because I don’t like biting down into pieces of ginger.

When I cooked everything at high heat in the wok, my hand got awfully hot … I need to buy an insulated glove!

Anyway, I was beyond thrilled with the final result. My daughter paid me a rare compliment, said it was restaurant quality!

If anyone wants my final recipe, I think I can post it here since it’s a combo of about 20 recipes.


Photos look great!

I’ll readily admit I’m intimidated by some Asian and Indian recipes. The ones having 4 or 5 sub-recipes within, each of the subs with lots of ingredients and several steps.

I find that reading through the entire thing several times, coming close to memorising it, helps calm my nerves a bit. And chunking where possible - if any of the sub recipes (sauces, often) can be made ahead I find that helpful.


This looks incredible! I also love chow fun but I’ve never attempted it. I would appreciate seeing your cobbled together recipe if you are willing to share!


To answer the question posed, no, I’ve never been afraid to try a recipe.

That said, I am not at all a good cook, nor do I enjoy complicated food so much that I want to cook it at home. So, if I see what appears to be a long involved recipe (such as Ottolenghi’s) then I just pass on by.


I would happily pay money for that! Looks delicious!


I’m intimidated and too lazy to tackle dim sum. I have made pork dumplings- it’s then clear wrappers, some frying, sourcing some ingredients that intimidates me.

I also am intimidated by maki and other sushi. I’ve made it once, not giving up my day job.

While I’ve baked since I was 10, but not frequently over the last decade, apart from a lot of bread and pizza in 2020 and 2021, I’m now in a place where I rather pay $40-$80 for a really good cake for a celebration, than make one from scratch. I have made a lot of flopsI will keep making crumbles and cobblers , but leave the Fraisiers, Black Forest Cakes, Passionfruit Mousse Cakes, Pear Frangipane tarts and special layer cakes to Toronto’s finest. Also, with reasonably good pies at 2 stores where I shop often costing $7 (loss leaders), I can’t be bothered to make pie when I can find a good pie for $7, when apples are costing $3-$4/lb.


Not afraid, but recognizing my limitations regarding my own skills, equipment, and patience.

Your dish looks fab, but I would never think of making Chinese food at home bc I’d be missing the much needed wok hei I am not able to recreate in my own kitchen.


I am ALWAYS intimidated by new recipes. Though I have at least a very basic competence, I find the idea of wasting the ingredients (and the time and cleanup effort) just tremendously upsetting and anxiety-inducing. I will often over-research things, comparing and contrasting recipes (in both text and video) and seeing what different techniques are suggested til I find one that feels achievable.

I’m sure I would get better faster if I let myself fail more.


No fear here as I usually view new recipes as guidelines. My pantry is small and I tend to make a lot of substitutions.Tasting while I assemble is king to getting there, and usually results in something I actually prefer over the recipe.

IMHO knowing a smaller amount of ingredients (and how they work together) really well is better than having a boatload which you may be unfamiliar with. In fact, I can only remember one failure in recent years, and that was due to following a pineapple upside down cake recipe verbatim (calling for cardamom - which I went out and bought). )c:

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That thrills me; I’m beyond happy that it came out so well on first try.

Next time I’ll try to brown the noodles some, add twice the green onions, add a tablespoon of fermented black beans (you’re supposed to rinse them in water then mash some). Even though I shopped at two big Chinese markets, I couldn’t find the wider noodles or sheets; next time I’ll try H Mart.

It’s so important to have everything ready before you begin … the stir frying doesn’t take long.

There’s an early step with meat where you mix in ½ teaspoon of baking soda then after 15 minutes you rinse off and dry.

Next time I’ll clean the wok after frying the meat because the cornstarch made stuff stick to it. (Maybe I’m being a fanatic.)


Your photo looks great. The snow peas make it much healthier. I love beef chow fun too. Good to hear that your rice noodle did not stick together. You did say that it was refrigerated? I hope they are not harden. If so, you can microwave or steam to soften them again. As for the blanching the noodle in hot water before cooking, I believe this is only needed for the dried rice noodle. Congratulation.

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Next time I’ll know not to refrigerate. Thankfully, no damage was done. Microwaving for 30 seconds, 3 times, separating after each go, worked beautifully. I love snow peas, go to a produce market and pick out really fresh, flexible green ones, don’t like prepackaged like some places sell.

Judging from your results, you obviously have no fear.

Well done.

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I had to overcome GREAT fear. It took me YEARS to get up the nerve to attempt this. It might lack a little bit of wok hei but I can live with this result.

I think it’s good to pick out a something we really like to eat and then practice making it. Mastery.

I love the ATK recipe for Pecan Crescent Cookies, refrigerating the dough for 2 days makes them less fragile. Everyone adores them but most don’t want to bother making them. Keep asking ME to make them.

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So you did microwave. Great. Yeah. Congratulation.
I always have some fears. I think you point out very well about the unfamiliar recipe. For example, now that you have one beef chow fun, then chicken chow fun or pork chow fun will cause no fear. For me, similar recipes which I can “base” on something will cause less fear. Certain recipe looks totally unfamiliar can be daunting. Usually, I just tell myself that the first time won’t be right. In addition, I am guess that certain people who are more “perfectionist” will actually have more fear/concern because they want to be perfect.

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Yes, a tendency toward perfectionism can prevent you from trying and failing. My friend’s 13 year old daughter won’t raise her hand in class because she’s too fearful of giving the wrong answer.

Baby Ruth hit 714 Home Runs and struck out 1,330 times. He walked 2,062 times. (Wish some teacher had written this on the blackboard … very inspiring to me.)

Have you seen the Italian movie Seven Beauties? Takes place in WW II. There’s a line where the main character is in a Nazi prison and he’s admiring the efficiency, talking to other Italian prisoners of war. Another one states: No my friend, the hope of the world lies not in order but in disorder. That one line help me tone down my need to be perfect.


I’m brave about trying new recipes, but I do get a bit worried if I’m making something for the first time for guests. When company comes, I tend to stick to things I’ve made multiple times that I know will turn out well.

Recipes that intimidate me tend to be those with high skill technique involved: like croissants for instance. But multiple day processes, no problem, I’ll take it on if I have the time.


Most definitely. If I’m itching to try something new on guests, and have the time, I’ll do a mini pre-run a couple of days before. If I don’t have the time, I’ll ditch the new thing and stick with something tried and true, as you mention.


This is a great thread idea.

The answer for me is: yes and no.

If I am familiar with the website/blog/etc, then I feel a little less intimidation. Woks of Life is a prime example as a blog that has never failed me, though sometimes I do find myself adding more of something or an ingredient that my go-to takeout spot might use but is not present in their recipe. They are also one of the only blogs that I will actually read the pre-recipe story. Most others I cannot wait to skip right past because it is just meaningless filler.

But I have also been let-down by so many online recipes. During Covid when we were cooking our brains out on a nightly basis, I felt it was a 50-50 shot of success vs. failure. I used to always maintain that the first time I would try a recipe I would follow it exactly and then future uses make necessary modifications. Now, no way, I can’t take that chance. If something doesn’t feel right then it doesn’t feel right and I am not wasting a meal on an experiment. Even now, I find myself either shocked or pleasantly surprised when I make something without any changes and it comes out great.

There’s a lot of people posting recipes out there who have absolutely no idea what they are doing or are cooking and then retro-estimating ingredient amounts and times or forgetting certain items altogether. And then they get all their friends and followers to give it five stars. That’s why I’m careful when sharing recipes myself, because experienced cooks (such as most of you all here) know what amounts work for certain ingredients, and my recipes are worded as such so people know it’s not exact-- more of a guideline or framework than a recipe. And I’ve had total success with making dishes based on other people’s “loose” recipes such as @NotJrvedivici’s replication of his favorite restaurant’s Chicken Scarpariello which is total guesswork.

And also, no, I would never try a first-time recipe regardless of the source if hosting guests for dinner. It would have to be something tried and true.


Re: Cardamom I love the Cardamom Cake recipe from My Bombay Kitchen, not difficult, very delicious.