Bee Yinn Low’s Easy Chinese Recipes

by Farah Photography FriedChillies on Fri, July 06, 2012

We checked out blogger, Bee Yinn Low's cookbook, Easy Chinese Recipes. Packed with tips and great recipes, this is a a must-have book in the kitchen.

Easy Chinese Recipes!

Born and raised in Penang, Bee Yin Low grew up watching her mum lovingly prepare delicious meals in the kitchen. Years later, she found herself working in Southern California trying to replicate her mum's recipes. But due to limited time and ingredients, she realised that she needed to simplify them, making them easier to make without sacrificing the taste. Developing these recipes ignited her passion for Asian cooking and now her blog, has an avid following of 1.5 million page views per month. It has become the Internet's most popular Asian food site.

Book Cover; Book by Tuttle Publishing, US$24.95, available at all leading bookstores.

Her cookbook, Easy Chinese Recipe includes her all-time favourite dishes. It has more than 60 recipes, ranging from soups, noodles, rice, dumplings and even desserts. Bee's hands on approach (she did the recipe testing, cooking, styling and writing in the book) gives the book a nice personal touch that would inspire you to try the recipes, regardless if your new to Asian cooking or an experienced cook. She pairs each recipe with little anecdotes and even starts the book off with some insight into her family and how she started cooking.

There were so many dishes to choose from but we eventually decided to make Kung Pao Chicken, Mongolian Beef and Flaky Sweet Egg Tarts. The recipes in this book are concise and easy to follow. Bee explains everything perfectly even describing the flavours of the dishes to help you cook them successfully.

Mongolian Beef

Sticky beef pieces flavoured with soy sauce, oyster sauce and hoisin sauce. Photo by FriedChillies

Don't be fooled by the name, this dish does not originate from Mongolia, it is actually a popular Chinese-American dish served at Chinese restaurants in America. The picture in the cookbook shows glossy beef strips and sprigs of spring onions. Bee even shares her tip on how to tenderize the meat so you'll end up with soft beef strips that almost melt in your mouth. You have to cut the beef across the grain to ensure tenderness.

How to Tenderize Meat

8 oz (250g) beef tenderloin, flank steak or flap meat, cut into pieces
1 tsp baking soda

1. Cut or slice the beef across the grain to ensure tenderness. Make sure it's cut or sliced into uniform pieces.
2. Mix the baking soda with the beef. Make sure it is evenly coated. Set aside for 15 minutes.
3. Place the beef in a colander and rinse thoroughly with cold running water. Rinse a few times if desired. Pat dry with paper towels. The beef is now ready for the marinade or whatever preparation is called for in the recipe.

Once you've tenderized the meat you can start making the actual dish. This serves 2 as a main dish with rice or 4 as a part of a multicourse meal.

8 oz (250g) beef pieces (that has been tenderized)
2 1/2 tbs oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
One 1 in (2.5cm) piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into thin pieces
3 green onions (scallions), cut into 2 in (5cm) lengths

1 tbs soy sauce
1 tsp dark soy sauce
1/2 tbs oyster sauce
1 tsp hoisin sauce
1 tsp Chinese rice wine or sherry
1 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 dashes white pepper

1. Marinade the beef with all the ingredients for the Marinade, about 15 minutes.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a wok or skillet over high heat. Stir-fry the beef until the beef is browned on the outside but still pink inside. Dish out and set aside.
3. Heat the remaining oil in the wok or skillet over high heat. Add the garlic and ginger and stir-fry until aromatic. Transfer the beef into the wok or skillet and stir-fry until the beef is cooked through and the centre of the met is no longer pink, about 1-2 minutes. Add the green onion, stir to combine the ingredients well. Dish out and serve immediately with steamed rice.

Kung Pao Chicken

Bee had her first bite of authentic Kung Pao Chicken was at a traditional Sichuan restaurant in Chengdu, the culinary capital of Sichuan. Bee describes this dish as being explosively fiery, numbing, with a strong vinegary note. Her version is tamer (maybe our Malaysian tongues are somewhat immuned to the heaty chillies so we find it pretty mild). We used cashew nuts instead of peanuts to add some richness to the dish.

The Kung Pao Chicken is ready! Photo by FriedChillies

Serves 2 as a main dish with rice or 4 as a part of a multicourse meal

8 oz (250g) skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized cubes
1 tsp Chinese rice wine or sherry
1 tbs cornstarch
2 tbs oil
1 tbs Szechuan Peppercorn Oil
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
One 1 inch (2.5cm) piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into thin pieces
10-15 dried red finger-length chillies, deseeded and cut into 2 in (5cm) lengths
3 heaping tablespoons roasted peanuts (we used cashew nuts)
1 green onion (scallion), trimmed and cut into small rounds

11/2 tbs soy sauce
1/2 tsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp Chinese black vinegar
1/2 tsp Chinese rice wine or sherry
1 tsp sugar
3 dashes white pepper
2 tbs water
1 tsp cornstarch

1. Tenderize the chicken the same way as the beef in Mongolian Beef recipe.
2. Marinate the chicken with the rice wine or sherry and cornstarch for 10 minutes.
3. Mix all the ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl. Set aside.
4. Heat 1/2 tbs of the oil in a wok or skillet over high heat and stir-fry the marinated chicken cubes until they are half-cooked or the surface turns opaque. Dish out and set aside.
5. Heat the remaining oil and the Sichuan Peppercorn Oil in the wok or skillet over high heat. Add the garlic and ginger, stir quickly with the spatula before adding the dried red chillies. Stir-fry until you smell the aroma of the dried chillies.
6. Return the chicken to the wok or skillet and stir quickly with the spatula. Add the Sauce and stir contnously until the chicken meat is nicely coated with it.
7. Stir in the roasted peanuts/ cashew nuts and green onion, combining them thoroughly with the ingredients in the wok or skillet. Dish out and serve immediately with steamed rice.

Flaky Sweet Egg Tarts

Egg Tart Recipe from Easy Chinese Recipes Cookbook.Photo and recipe by Bee Yinn Low.

Bee says that this is a 'no sink custard' egg tart recipe. After countless attempts, with plenty of trials and errors, she found out that the simple key to 'no sink' egg tart is to not whisk the egg custard mixture because whisking incorporates too much air to the filling.

We gave a more rustic look to our tarts by baking them in a muffin pan. Photo by FriedChillies

Makes 24 tarts

6 large eggs
2 cups milk
6 oz (175g) sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

8 oz (250g) butter
1 large egg, (lightly beaten)
12 oz (350g) all purpose flour, sifted
2 oz (50g) confectioner's sugar

1. To make the filling, beat the eggs very gently with a fork in a bowl. Do not whisk. Mix the rest of the ingredients in a separate bowl until the sugar is completely dissolved. Stir in beaten eggs to mix well. Strain the filling using a fine mesh strainer slowly. Repeat 2 to 3 times. Make sure the surface or the Filling has no air bubbles. Chill the Filling in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
2. Mix all the Pastry ingredients together and knead it into dough using your hands, about 10-15 minutes. The dough is ready when it no longer sticks to your fingers.
3. Grease the tart moulds (3 inches/7.5 cm in diameter) with some butter.
4. Divide the dough into 24 dough balls and press them into the molds. The pastry should be thin because the dough puffs up slightly after baking.
5. Preheat the oven to 325 F (160 C). Prebake the pastry first, about 10 - 15 mins.

6. Remove the tart moulds from the oven and gently pour the Filling into each tart mould, about 90% full. Make sure there are no air bubbles forming on the surface of the Filling.
7. Bake the egg tarts at 325 F for about 20 - 30 mins, or until Filling is set. Check at the 20-minute mark for doneness.
8. Remove the egg tarts from the oven, let cool for 5-10 mins. Loosen the egg tarts from the moulds and serve warm.