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It came as a surprise to me and my wife Sue when we learned that Gok was about to start a new tv series on Channel Four - that wasn't about dress design or style. Yes, it was a different side of Gok and one that after watching the first few programmes was one Sue and I would like to see a lot more of. This was a revelation seeing just how skilful Gok is at cooking Chinese food that he had learnt predominantly through working at his parents takeaway and quite regularly they are featured in his programmes (and in the book).
I remember quite well when Gok Cooks Chinese was released as it was announced at the end of the programme with only 4 episodes remaining in the series. It was published on 10th May 2012 and was only a few weeks later when Sue bought it through Amazon for £8.86 (free shipping) despite having a recommended selling price of £20. It was a surprise to me that she had ordered the book because I was intent on buying it for her as a birthday present as she loves reading cookery books.
By far the recipe that we come back to most often is Poppa Wan's show-stopping twice-cooked melting pork which you just have to try because it is delicious.
Gok Cooks Chinese contains 240 pages of which 5 pages are index and 18 pages of introduction (including list of essential ingredients and equipment). There are lots of good quality photos throughout the book some of which detail how to cook or chop ingredients.
Gok's contents page is written in the form of a menu:
Chinese Takeaway Classics - spicy Sichuan chicken, prawn chow mein, Poppa Wan's honey-glazed char siu pork
Chinese Sunday Roast - Poppa Wan's amazing pork ribs, dim sum
Favourite Family Wan Dishes - dragon scallops with burning oil sauce, Poppa Wan's simple soy-glazed chicken
Chinese Classics - choi sum in oyster sauce, perfect plum sauce, happiness in a bowl
Street Food - spring rolls, Vietnamese style Summer rolls filled with pork
Feasting - luxurious lobster noodles, stunning stir-fried Chinese mushrooms
One-Pot Wonders - Dad's drunken chicken, braised beef short rib
Modern Dishes - roasted crispy pork belly, salt and pepper pork chops
In total the book contains 82 recipes some of which we have tried and some which so far require too many ingredients to try! Our favourite recipe in fact uses half a bottle of sherry, star anise, ginger, garlic, spring onions, soy sauce, 3lb of belly pork, honey and a fresh red chilli. Recipes are written in easy step by step instructions.
This is an entertaining read and is still on sale (new) through Amazon for £8.86 in hardback or with Prestige Wok for £35.99. At current price this is certainly worth considering with Christmas looming! I have seen many Chinese cooking programmes on tv and his series and accompanying book are probably the best ones we have seen.
After watching Gok Wan's cookery show 'Gok Cooks Chinese' I was keen to try some of the recipes for myself as they looked so easy and sounded so tasty.
My husband, ever the generous soul, not wanting to see me without a cookbook when I had the urge to cook ordered a copy from www.amazon.co.uk. The book is currently (Oct 12) priced at £8.86 with Amazon but prices do vary widely online and in store.
The edition I have is hardback and as far as I know there is not a paperback edition available at the moment.
There are 82 recipes in the book and at the front there is a list of all the dishes set out like a Chinese menu.
The book is broken up into 11 sections. These are: Introduction, All about ingredients, essential equipment, Chinese takeaway classic, Chinese Sunday roast dim sum, favourite family Wan dishes, Chinese classics, street food, feasting, one-pot wonders and modern dishes. There is also an index and the usual acknowledgements at the back.
Introduction: This section is just an introduction by Wan explaining his love of food, Chinese attitude to food and why he chose to write a recipe book.
All about ingredients: Gok has included a glossary of the essential ingredients needed to complete all the dishes in the book. Each item is listed with and explanation of their origin characteristics and some of the best and worst ways to use each item.
Essential equipment: In this chapter Gok lists the 5 pieces of kitchen equipment he feels are essential to best produce the dishes in the book.
Chinese takeaway classics: There are 13 recipes in this chapter includes many of your takeaway favourites such as Fried rice, Sichuan chicken and Prawn chow mein.
Chinese Sunday roast, dim sum: Again there are 13 recipes listed in this section including steamed mushroom dumplings, sesame prawn balls and pork ribs.
Favourite family Wan dishes: There are 14 recipes to choose from in this section including black beans and tofu, sweet and sour fish and simple soy glazed chicken.
Chinese classics: With only 8 recipes in this chapter there is still some amazing food to try with lemon and ginger sole, easy pecking duck with pancakes and perfect plum sauce.
Street food: Spring rolls, Noodles with pork and ginger and Lap Chong and squid are just 3 of the 12 recipes in this section.
Feasting: This is the real show off section and although there are only 6 recipes they include Lobster noodles, Melting pork and fragrant Chinese chicken.
One-pot wonders: The 9 dishes in this chapter include drunken chicken, curried clams and braised aubergine with pork.
Modern dishes: The final chapter features 7 dishes including Salt and pepper pork chops, baby squid and grilled mackerel with sesame spinach.
The whole book is beautifully put together with clear concise instructions on one page and gorgeous pictures on the facing page.
Each recipe is started with a short introduction from Gok explaining a bit about each dish and the ingredients needed. The introduction is often funny and you can really hear Gok coming through the page to you.
I admit I did have the book a few weeks before I plucked up the courage to have a go but so far things have gone quite well. I have tried 2 recipes from the book and both were quite well received. I admit I did have a few problems souring the ingredients from my local supermarkets but I live in rural Lincolnshire so I wasn't really surprised. I found my local Sainsbury had the best selection and I did manage to get everything I need in the store.
The first recipe I tried was Ginger Beef from the Chinese takeaway classic chapter. I chose this recipe first because it is Gok's take on Deep fried shredded crispy beef. Both my husband and myself like the crispy beef from our local takeaway but do find that sometimes it is all crispy and no beef so to be able to make this myself would be a better option than getting a takeout. I got most of my ingredients ready before I started and found it quite easy to make. I got in a bit of a mess trying to cook and read the instructions but managed to make a half decent dish so it wasn't all bad. I found it was a bit of a pain having to fry the pork first and then clean the wok before making the sauce but I could see why it was done that way. Next time I think I would make it a bit gingerier and make extra sauce so there was some for pouring over the finished dish but other than that it was very nice. The dish was much tastier and far healthier than anything from the takeaway.
The other recipe I have tried is Poppa Wan's Honey-Glazed Char Siu Pork also from the takeaway classic chapter. I chose this recipe to try because I saw it made on Gok's accompanying television show and thought it sounded yummy. It was gorgeous and so easy. I got all my ingredients ready and mixed them up in a bowl the covered my meat and left it all to marinade for a few hours. The recipe suggests that you used a pork loin but I marinated pork steaks instead. I put the marinade into a bag with the steaks made sure they were well covered and then cooked them under the grill when I was ready. The smell was amazing and they were so tasty much better than a shop bought marinade. Definitely one I will be making again.
Some of the recipes are made with fish like sweet and sour fish and prawn chow mein so for me, as I am not keen on fish, I would substitute the fish for chicken.
Some of the recipes do look quite tricky to make so I won't try those until I feel a little more confident. I found watching the programme very helpful and think that there are definitely enough recipes in the book to generate another series.
On the whole I am very pleased with my book and I am looking forward to making many more of the delicious recipes.