Gok Cooks Chinese, and ginger beef stir-fry

Ginger beef stir-fry served with rice
Today I’ve got a cookbook recommendation from you, and one of my favourite recipes from it. You may already be raising your eyebrows at the title, since Gok Wan is probably more famous for his fashion tips than knife skills, but this book is fantastic. Incidentally, if you have watched his TV show Gok Cooks Chinese then you’ll know that Gok has enviable knife skills, especially with a cleaver, probably learned during his younger years when he helped out in his dad’s Chinese restaurant.
Gok Cooks Chinese cookbook
I was given this book for Christmas two years ago and since then it’s become a firm favourite in our household. The recipes that we’ve cooked have all been delicious, with easy to follow instructions and ingredients lists that aren’t too tricky to track down (a few more specialised ingredients might require a trip to the local Chinese supermarket, but I always find the products are cheaper than those from regular supermarkets anyway). Some recipes that I would highly recommend if you decide to pick up this book are his dim-sum collection (particularly the char siu pork buns and chicken and leek magic potstickers), Poppa Wan’s simple soy-glazed chicken (a quick and easy weekday dish), the unusual stir-fried cucumbers and the spicy Sichuan chicken (this one is strong in flavour, but very moreish).

I always think it’s really hard to recreate Chinese food at home that can compete with the food that you get out in restaurants, but the recipes in this book do absolutely that. In fact, they might even be better. The recipe I’m showing you today is similar to the crispy shredded beef that so many takeaways do, but without the deep-frying and the gloopy sauce. This version is sweet, spicy from ginger and garlic, and the beef is crisp on the outside but soft in the centre. Since I haven’t changed Gok’s recipe from the book I won’t take you through every step – his instructions are detailed enough to easily follow. Instead I thought I’d run you through a few tips that I’ve discovered are helpful, and then pop the recipe down below…

1. This tip applies to all Chinese cooking, not just this particular recipe, and it is to prepare all of your ingredients before you begin cooking.
Weigh out your ingredients, chop all the vegetables and meat, and mix up your sauce. This is usually the most time-consuming part of Chinese cooking, but it will really help when you come to cooking, especially you are going to be cooking quickly in a very hot wok.
Preparing all the ingredients for ginger beef before cooking
2. Buy good quality meat.
It might seem sacrilegious to some to use good quality sirloin steak in a stir-fry recipe, but trust me it is worth it. The beef is cooked quickly at a high temperature so you need a decent cut which will still be tender after this kind of cooking. Splash out on a couple of nice steaks (they don’t need to be huge) and you won’t regret it.
Ingredients for ginger beef stir-fry
3. Get your wok screaming hot and take the time to fry the beef in batches.
Make sure that the steak is spread out in one layer only, don’t (no matter how tempting it is) dump it all in at once. This will ensure that the beef is cooked as quickly as possible, resulting in a crisp coating while still being tender inside. Kitchen tongs are a really useful utensil for frying the batches of steak, and make sure you have a plate with a piece of kitchen roll placed on top to lift the cooked meat out on to. I find that using a freezer bag to coat the steak in seasoned corn flour is the easiest way to do it.
Preparing the work station before cooking the ginger beef stir-fry
Stir-frying the ginger beef
4. I make one and a half times the quantity of sauce stated in this recipe, but this is simply due to our personally preference to have a fairly “saucy” dish. Excellent when you have lots of rice on the side to soak it all up.

And now for the recipe!…
Gok Wan's Ginger Beef
Ingredients for Gok Wan's ginger beef recipe
Recipe for Gok Wan's Ginger Beef
Serve with boiled rice and some steamed green vegetables such as pak choi.
Ginger beef served with rice and steamed Asian vegetables
Do you have Gok’s cookbook and if so what are you favourite recipes from it? Or do you have a different favourite Chinese cookbook to recommend?…

Ginger-Spiced Stewed Rhubarb

Cooled stewed rhubarb with vanilla, ginger and cinnamon
Rhubarb has a fairly long and generous season, as I mentioned before when sharing my recipe for a Rhubarb Crumble. At the start of the year forced rhubarb starts to peak its golden-crowned head up, but now that spring is really upon us the dark red stalks are really coming into their prime. Now is the time to peruse the supermarket shelves or pop into your local greengrocers and grab a pile of stalks for a crumble or a pie or some simple stewed rhubarb. I’m lucky enough to have a green-fingered father who lives nearby, and received a beautiful bunch of rhubarb stalks freshly picked from his allotment two weekends ago. It was so perfectly fresh that I didn’t want to muck around with it (besides, with only two of us in the house most of the time, endless puddings and desserts can get a bit much…it’s a hard life, I know). So I stewed it up with a few complementing flavours: vanilla, cinnamon and ginger.
Fresh rhubarb for stewing with sugar, fresh ginger, vanilla and cinnamon
600g rhubarb (about 6 large stalks, with the ends chopped off)
150g caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp freshly grated ginger
6 tbsp water

1. Chop the rhubarb into small pieces, about 2 inches long.
Chopped fresh rhubarb for stewing
2. Place the rhubarb into a large pan and add the sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger and water. Stir and bring to a simmer. Cook on a low heat for about 5 minutes for a mixed consistency with some rhubarb still in whole pieces – you want a fork to easily slide through the chunks, and not meet with resistance. If you’d like a more liquid consistency then the take the cooking on for a couple more minutes, it won’t take long.
Rhubarb, sugar, vanilla, fresh ginger and cinnamon for stewing
3. Eat hot or leave to cool in the pan, then transfer to a bowl or container and refrigerate.
Stewed rhubarb with ginger, vanilla and cinnamon

This compote was so simple but utterly scrummy, and the ginger in particular made it wonderfully fragrant. If you follow me on Instagram, you might have noticed that we had it (the night I cooked it) on top of mini pavlovas:
Mini pavlovas with fragrant stewed rhubarb
All I did was follow the meringue recipe from a previous post (but without the extra flavourings and using just one egg white), shape the mixture into two large meringues and top with crème fraiche and the compote to finish. I also had the compote for breakfast every day for a week with coconut yogurt and never got bored of it:
Yogurt with fragrant stewed rhubarb
This would be perfect on top of porridge or cereal – I did try to tempt Ross to have it on his cereal, but he has a strict No-Fruit-On-My-Cereal policy. This will keep in the fridge for a week, or you can even freeze it for later. I’m hoping for another fresh rhubarb delivery this week and am thinking about a rhubarb and strawberry pie – a match made in heaven. What’s your favourite thing to cook with rhubarb?