Recreate your favourite east Asian dishes with these simple yet tantalising wok recipes by chef Ching-He Huang.
If the only thing you ever make in a wok is a rather dull stir-fry, you’re missing out. The deep, rounded frying pans can be used to create everything from rich, creamy curries to sinus-clearing noodle soups and seared, intensely seasoned meats – and Taiwanese chef and cookbook author Ching-He Huang is an expert in them all. Her cookbook Wok On contains over 70 fresh and easy wok recipes inspired by countries across east Asia, covering techniques including braising, steaming and deep frying.
Below, she shares three surprisingly simple recipes packed with good stuff: a vegan Thai green sweet potato curry, a chunky Malaysian-Chinese cod laksa, and a black pepper duck and kale dish inspired by Macanese and Cantonese cuisine. You’ll never see your wok in the same way again…
Thai green sweet potato curry recipe
Ching says: “First, roast the sweet potatoes and then make a quick Thai green curry in the wok and serve with jasmine rice. Perfect in every way and so wholesome, yet easy to make, and above all – vegan too!”
Prep time: 15 minutes
Oven time: 30-35 minutes
Wok time: 6 minutes
- 300g sweet potatoes, cut into 2.5cm chunks
- pinch of salt
- 1-2 tbsp rapeseed oil
For the curry:
- 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
- 2.5cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
- 2 small baby shallots, sliced, or ½ white onion, diced
- 1 stalk of lemongrass, any tough outer leaf discarded, cut into 4cm slices
- 2 tbsp Thai green curry paste
- 1 tbsp tamari or low-sodium light soy sauce
- 200ml coconut milk
- 300ml vegetable stock
- pinch of salt
- 100g sugarsnap peas or mangetout, whole
- Thai basil leaves
- 1 red chilli, seeds in, sliced
Preheat the oven to 180°C, Gas Mark 4. Put the sweet potatoes on a baking tray and season with the salt and oil. Roast in the oven for 30-35 minutes.
For the curry, heat a wok over a medium heat, add the rapeseed oil and give the oil a swirl. Stir-fry the ginger, shallots or onion and lemongrass for a few seconds to release their aroma.
Add the Thai green curry paste and tamari or light soy sauce and stir around to distribute in the wok. Add the roasted sweet potatoes, followed by the coconut milk and vegetable stock and bring to the boil. The sweet potatoes should look lightly crisp and browned at the edges.
Add the salt and sugarsnap peas or mangetout and cook for 30 seconds. Garnish with the basil and sliced chilli. Spoon out and serve with jasmine rice.
Chunky cod laksa recipe
Ching says: “Laksa is a Malaysian-Chinese curry noodle broth. The spices usually travelled from India and the egg noodles came from southern China. It’s easy to make your own laksa paste – just blend all the ingredients in a food processor. Then cook up with coconut milk and stock and add cod, crunchy vegetables, such as beansprouts, and fresh herbs, such as coriander, for a fabulously spicy, moreish meal. Enjoy!”
Prep time: 20 mins
Wok time: 30 mins
- 250g dried egg noodles
- 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
- 400ml coconut milk
- 500ml vegetable or fish stock
- juice of 1 lime
- 1 tsp soft brown sugar
- 1 tsp fish sauce
- 200g cod loins, cut into 2.5cm chunks, or raw prawns, shelled with tails on, deveined
- 80g beansprouts
- pinch of salt
- pinch of ground dried chilli flakes
- small handful of coriander leaves
For the laksa paste:
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- ½ onion, chopped
- 40ml coconut milk
- 1 tbsp freshly grated peeled ginger or galangal
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 15g lemongrass, roughly chopped
- 1 red cayenne chilli, deseeded and roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp shrimp paste
Put all the ingredients for the laksa paste into a blender or food processor and whizz to a smooth paste.
Meanwhile, cook the noodles in a pan of boiling water for about 3 minutes, then drain under cold running water to get rid of starch and help keep the noodles springy.
Heat the rapeseed oil in a wok and cook the laksa paste for 1 minute.
Stir in the coconut milk, stock, lime juice, sugar and fish sauce, then bring the soup to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes.
Add the cod or prawns to the soup and simmer until the fish changes colour (becomes opaque) and is cooked through.
Add the beansprouts, salt and chilli flakes to taste.
Divide the noodles evenly between serving bowls and ladle the soup over. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve immediately.
Black pepper duck and kale wokked rice
Ching says: “Inspired by my love of Macanese black pepper roast duck, which is served with Cantonese gai lan (Chinese broccoli) and rice, I wanted to have all the flavours of the duck and greens in the rice and so here it is – a simple, quick and delicious duck wokked rice.”
Prep time: 10 mins
Wok time: 5 mins
For the duck:
- 200g duck breasts, skinned and finely diced
- ¼ tsp cracked black pepper
- 1 tsp Shaohsing rice wine or dry sherry
- 1 tsp dark soy sauce
- 1 tsp cornflour
For the fried rice:
- 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
- 100g kale, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp freshly grated peeled ginger
- 1 red pepper, deseeded and diced
- 350g cooked brown rice
- 50g French beans, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp tamari or low-sodium light soy sauce
- 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
- pinch of ground black pepper
- juice of 1 lemon, to serve
Season the duck with the cracked black pepper, rice wine or dry sheery and dark soy sauce. Sprinkle over the cornflour and set aside.
Heat a wok over a high heat until smoking, add the rapeseed oil and give the oil a swirl. Stir-fry for 2-3 minutes until well done and slightly crisp. Pour the duck and oil into a heatproof colander set over a heatproof bowl and drain the duck well, reserving the oil.
Reheat the wok and add 1 tbsp of the drained oil. Add the kale, garlic and ginger and stir-fry for 4-5 seconds. Add the red pepper and stir-fry for 30 seconds.
Add the duck, rice, French beans, soy sauce, sesame oil and black pepper and stir-fry for 10-15 seconds until the rice, duck and vegetables are mixed well with the tamari or light soy sauce and everything is heated through. Dress the rice with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and serve immediately.
Wok On by Ching-He Huang (£20, Kyle Books) is out now
Photography: Tamin Jones