Shaping Chinese Home Cooking in America
November 22, 2022 6:10 PM   Subscribe

The family behind the wonderful recipe blog The Woks of Life is profiled in Bon Appetit by journalist and author Kat Chow.

If you've not been to The Woks Of Life before, here's a couple of possible starting points:
The guides to Chinese cooking ingredients is a great general resource, with a quicker essential 10 for the daunted.
The family's personal pick recipes include Rou Zao Fan: Taiwanese Braised Minced Pork Over Rice (肉燥饭) but also General Tso's Tofu.
Bill, the patriarch, spent a number of years in his family's Chinese American restaurant, so there's a section of takeout dishes.
You might be able to use their leftover Thanksgiving turkey congee or lo mein later this week.
If you prefer your recipe internet neatly arranged on thin slices of tree, their cookbook is now out.
The Woks Of Life previously.
posted by Superilla (13 comments total) 47 users marked this as a favorite
Love the site! Their Katsudon recipe, their Red Curry Noodles with Chicken, and their 15-Minute Lazy Noodles have all earned spots in our rotation.
posted by xedrik at 6:18 PM on November 22 [1 favorite]

Their cooked lettuce recipe is sooooo good. If you bought a 3-pack of romaine and the third head is getting wilty, this is what you should do with it. Be sure to make extra of the sauce so you can pour it over everything! Now I know what I'm going to make this weekend when I'm tired of Thanksgiving leftovers and want something completely different. (You can use other hearty greens but cmon, isn't the idea of steamed lettuce a bit intriguing?)
posted by lunasol at 6:26 PM on November 22 [6 favorites]

Their cooked lettuce recipe is sooooo good.
Oyster sauce is tbh a flavour cheat code so long as you're not veggie/vegan. You can get somewhere close with soy, msg, sugar, & maybe some corn starch for consistency, but that's a hassle if you don't have to do it.
posted by juv3nal at 6:49 PM on November 22 [2 favorites]

This is great!

You can get somewhere close with soy, msg, sugar, & maybe some corn starch for consistency, but that's a hassle if you don't have to do it.

There are mushroom-based vegetarian versions of oyster sauce available! I've always been able to find the Y&Y one where I live.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 6:53 PM on November 22 [4 favorites]

Just looked and my Evernote cooking notebook has nine recipes from them, which has got to be the most outside of NYT Cooking and Serious Eats!
posted by praemunire at 7:29 PM on November 22

Their blog is so consistently good, with good writing and well-tested recipes. It's nice to know they are so succesfull, it's well deserved. And also a bit fascinating to know that millions of people all over the world are somehow sharing the family meals of someone in New Jersey.
posted by mumimor at 7:43 PM on November 22 [3 favorites]

Luffa (which I've always thought was spelled loofah) is edible? Whoa.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:50 AM on November 23 [1 favorite]

A similar, but smaller-scale site is Red House Spice, run by Wei, a self-taught cook from North-west China living in the UK. It looks to be inspired by the style and approach of the Woks of Life. The two sites have become my main sources for learning about Chinese recipes and ingredients.
posted by pipeski at 7:14 AM on November 23 [5 favorites]

Love Woks and also must recommend Omnivore's Cookbook for similar takeout favorite recipes.
posted by kingdead at 7:38 AM on November 23

The Woks Of Life previously. is missing something
posted by stevil at 8:23 AM on November 23

Oh, thanks for the heads up that their cookbook is out! I've been very excited for this.
posted by kitcat at 8:26 AM on November 23

Loved the Woks of Life for a long time, also glad to see the family get their due. And in the past few years I've come to love congee, but never made my own. That turkey congee recipe is going to be my Friday, so thanks for pointing that out!
posted by friendlyjuan at 9:44 AM on November 23

Their takeout version of hot and sour soup looks great, but is meaty and has a lot of specialty ingredients. This gives me the opportunity to share a vegetarian version my household loves that can require (and is better with) some specialty ingredients, but offers some subs. My other advice is to use cheap button mushrooms, but double the amount (keep the bamboo amount the same), and add extra egg.
posted by atomicstone at 11:44 AM on November 23

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