October 2023 Cookbook of the Month: Woks of Life Cookbook and Blog

Reporting thread for November up a little bit early (better early than late, right?):

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I just made a second batch of this with my doubanjiang trying to add fluid ahead to melt any crystals and reduce the saltiness of the finished product, waiting to apply sauce to bean curd. I found a second (older) jar of the doubanjiang in my closet and threw together a batch with that, too. it tasted a little different and didnt have all the crystals. I combined the two batches and put some on my this-time cold silken beancurd I think the wait to let the flavors develop and the dilution and extra sugar to offset the extreme saltiness of the soy and beansauce helped the dish quiete a bit.


I was going to make the CHICKEN CHOW MEIN with fresh skinny noodles, picked up a package at Ranch 99 … it didn’t have a sell by date on it. When I had all the other ingredients, I opened the package and there were many dots of blue mold so I had to toss it. Yesterday I went to Ranch 99 again and bought a different brand of fresh noodles, the package says to use immediately and for boiling instructions says “until thoroughly cooked”, not much help. The recipe says to put in boiling water for 1 minute, I did a bit longer, then rinsed in cold water.

I shouldn’t have attempted a double recipe in my wok, could not get the boiled and drained noodles crispy but they still tasted good. I’d planned to add a sliced onion but got tired and didn’t bother, would have been better with onion.

At Costco there were no organic chicken breasts so I bought organic tenderloins … never again. Each tenderloin had a hard white tendon that was very difficult for me to cut out. I’m a bit squeamish about handling raw meats; next time I will just but from a good butcher. Instead of doubling the chicken, I used 20 oz instead of 24 oz.

I added more green onions, more garlic. Recipe said to briefly saute ginger (I shredded) and garlic, then add carrots (photo only shows one slice, there were more!!) … my ginger and garlic was sticking like mad. I added almost a can of water chestnuts that I sliced into two, snow peas, celery, baby bok choi (next time I’ll add more), bean sprouts. I didn’t add mushrooms.

I liked this, at end I thought it could use more salt or soy sauce.


I made the chicken pan-fried noodles my way (spaghetti noodz and bok choy).

It was really good. No leftovers!



We’re getting our next box from our seafood subscription some time next week, so I have a few more things to use up in the chest freezer before it arrives. This included a pound of cleaned squid, so that was on the menu for tonight.

If you click through to the recipe, the method is pretty straight forward. This is another stir-fry, finished with a broth simmer and thickened with a cornstarch slurry (qian). I deviated in the following ways:

  • Again, I parcooked by passing through oil rather than blanching the squid.
  • I sliced the garlic and julienned the ginger (and doubled the amount in general).
  • I broke the chiles in half and removed the seeds, so that we could more easily enjoy them and not remove them when eating (not that I would have, but BF is not a whole dried pepper guy in stir fries).
  • Cut the mustard greens in half and added some fresh bok choy (bringing the sodium down a touch).
  • Used half mustard oil with my cooking oil for the stir fry.

We had this with jasmine rice. If you can get the squid already flower cut from your fish counter, it will be an even faster meal. I did my own, since I was working from whole squid bodies. I like the flower cut because it helps to keep the squid tender and the scoring helps to hold the sauce. Cutting the bodies into rings would be fine though, honestly.


I don’t know which book this is from, but my teenage son and I found this recipe online and made it for dinner tonight as we had the right size of chicken to fit in our steel pot.

It turned out really well. I made the chicken and rice components and my son made the 3 sauces.

I had half a jar of Tean’s Gourmet brand ‘Paste for Hainanese Chicken Rice’ left in the fridge so I used that in the rice (instead of minced garlic).


Hand torn cabbage stir fry. Fast, easy, delicious. It was a last minute veg addition to some other leftovers. I didn’t use any meat in the dish and used napa cabbage because that’s what I had. This is going to be one of those back pocket recipes that is so handy to have.



I’ve had this dish on my wish list since I ate it in flushing chinatown last year.

Simpler than I expected, and very flavorful.

My changes:
— Turkey instead of pork, but 10% fat, not lean).
— Added black mushrooms which were in some other recipes.
— No egg, just cornstarch to bind.
— Instead of deep frying, I used my appe pan.
— I wanted a soupy outcome rather than a sauce, so I used chicken bone broth instead of water and skipped the cornstarch.


Time for December nominations!

After eating some and giving a pint to my daughter, there was a lot left so I gave to my hairdresser (Chinese) and nail lady (Vietnamese), they loved it.

Tried this again but without chicken. Noodles got a bit more crispy but not like from restaurants, maybe this brand of fresh noodles or my technique.


The restaurants are cooking much hotter than we can achieve on our home stoves.

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Additionally I don’t think of these noodles as crispy at all. Toothsome, sure, but if I think of crispy chow mein I’m thinking this:

However, if you are using fresh noodles, perhaps steaming the noodles as in this video might help you, as well as his method. I think this is the kind of crispness @Aubergine is referring to:

(Definitely only like 15 seconds when he gives them a dunk in water. I’ve done this and it really does work great.)

ETA: I just went back and saw you rinsed in cold water after boiling. I find it’s better to not do that for this type of noodle. Even if you boil them, you’ll get better texture if you spread them out to cool rather than rinsing.

Yes, recipe said to boil for one minute (I do two) drain, rinse in cold water. I was only trying for crispy noodles because that’s what my daughter prefers, the way she gets from Chinese restaurants. I like it just fine not crispy.

How is it called on the menu when she gets it? Because that goes back to what type of chow mein is being ordered. The crispy kind (liangmianhuang aka Hong Kong style chow mein) is usually called “pan-fried crispy noodles” or something similar, whereas stir-fried chow mein like what you’re making isn’t known for being particularly crisp. You’re making the second dish they mention on the website and it sounds like your daughter is getting the third one.

Just from this recipe description, I wasn’t getting the browning and crispy noodles they mentioned.

Still tastes good.

When my daughter gets take out the noodles are really crispy, brown, stuck together. Personally, I prefer the way these noodles turned out.

That’s Hong Kong chow mein. It’s the dish I linked above from Souped Up Recipes and Serious Eats.
This is another link from Chinese Cooking Demystified:

It’s made completely differently from what you’re making.

You’re making something more similar to the Made With Lau recipe I linked. Hong Kong chow mein is not stir-fried noodles.


Late to the party, as usual. I find these review links very helpful, though, so I thought I’d add a quick post about a recipe I tried this weekend. (And I have a good excuse for being late-- I was traveling in China in October, now going through serious Chinese food withdrawal).

These wontons are quite small, much smaller than potstickers, and boiled. I think their main function is as a delivery mechanism for spicy chili sauce, so I also made the HOMEMADE CHILI OIL recipe which Tex mentions above. Both were delicious. No wontons left at the end of the meal. I will probably make the wontons again, though I think I would reduce the sugar in the accompanying sauce (added to the chili oil). Now I have chili oil for more tasty dishes.

Sorry forgot to nab a photo before all were eaten.