Spice up the kitchen with simple Chinese recipes

Break the habit of spending needlessly on expensive takeaways, these simple recipes will help you discover the confidence to do it yourself.

Simple Chinese recipes

We all love Chinese cuisine but many of us are still unsure how to cook even the most basic of dishes. Now with the aid of Simple Chinese Recipes, Ken Hom shares his knowledge and passion to demonstrate just how easy it is to recreate authentic and delicious dishes in your own kitchen.

The book contains forty of the most popular and well-known dishes, and uses simple instructions to guide you through each recipes from start to finish.  Each step is well explained, ensuring there are no culinary catastrophes!

Spicy Sichuan Prawns - simple Chinese recipes
Spicy Sichuan prawns

Spicy Sichuan prawns

Sichuan cooking is popular throughout China and in recent years adventurous Chinese restaurant diners have discovered how delicious it can be.  This is one of the best known dishes from that area.

Serves 4
Preparation Time: 25 minutes
Cooking Time: 5 minutes


  • 1 1/2 tsp of groundnut oil
  • 2 tsp finely chopped fresh root ginger
  • 1 tbsp of coarsely chopped garlic
  • 2 tbsp of finely chopped spring onions
  • 450g raw prawns, shelled and de-veined

For the sauce

  • 1 tbsp tomato sauce
  • 2 tsp of chilli bean sauce
  • 2 tsp of Chinese black vinegar or cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp of sugar
  • 2 tsp of sesame oil
  • Fresh coriander sprigs to garnish


Heat a wok over a high heat.  Add the oil and when it is very hot and slightly smoking add the ginger, garlic and spring onions. 

Stir fry for 20 seconds, then add the prawns. Stir fry the prawns for about 1 minute.

Add all the sauce ingredients and continue to stir fry for another 3 minutes over a high heat. 

Serve at once.

crispy aromatic duck - simple Chinese recipes
Crispy aromatic duck with pancakes

Crispy aromatic duck

This is one of the most popular and best-selling dishes in Chinese restaurants in the West.  Although it is available as a ready-cooked meal, nothing beats the home-made version.  Don’t be intimidated by the long preparation process.  Most of the steps are straight forward and can be done up to a day ahead, and the results are well worth the labour.  Steaming the duck rendered out most of the fat, leaving the meat moist and succulent.  The final deep-drying the skin beautifully.

Serves 4 – 6
Preparation Time: 15 minutes + 2 hours cooling
Cooking Time: 2 1/2 hours


  • 1 x 2.75kg duck, fresh or frozen, preferably Cherry Valley
  • 6 slices of fresh root ginger 7.5 cm x 5 mm
  • 6 spring onions cut into 7.5 cms strips
  • Cornflour for dusting
  • 1.2 litres of groundnut oil

For the spice rub

  • 2 tbsp five-spice powder
  • 65g of Sichuan peppercorns
  • 25g black pepper corns
  • 3 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 200g rock salt

To Serve

Chinese pancakes
6 spring onions, finely shredded
Hoisin sauce


If the duck is frozen, thaw it thoroughly. Rinse well and blot it completely dry with kitchen paper.  Mix all the ingredients together for the spice rub, then rub the duck inside and out with this mixture, applying it evenly.  Wrap well in cling film and refrigerate for 24 hours. 

After this time, brush any excess spices from the duck.  Stuff the ginger and spring onions into the cavity and put the duck on a heatproof plate.  Set up a steamer or put a rack into the wok. Fill it with 5 cms of water and bring to the boil.  Lower the duck and plate into the steamer and cover tightly.

Steam gently for 2 hours, pouring off excess fat from time to time.  Add more water when necessary.  Remove the duck from the steamer and pour off all the liquid.  Discard the ginger and spring onions.  Leave the duck in a cool place for 2 hours or until it has dried and cooled. At this point the duck can be refrigerated.

Just before you are ready to serve it, cut the duck into quarters and the duck into quarters, and dust with cornflour, shaking off the excess.

Heat the oil in a wok or deep fat fryer. When it is almost smoking, deep fry the duck quarters in two batches.  Fry the breasts for about 8-10 minutes and the thighs and legs for about 10-15 minutes until each quarter is crisp and heated right through.

Drain the duck on kitchen paper and leave until cool enough to handle.  Then remove the meat from the bones and shred it.  You can do this easily with a fork.  The Chinese eat it, bones and all.  Serve with pancakes, spring onions and Hoisin sauce.

More simple Chinese recipes

For more recipes ideas see our Food and Drink channel. If you fancy treating yourself to the book these recipes came from see here:

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Tags: , , Last modified: December 16, 2021

Written by 7:05 am Food & Drink

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