Chinese Cooking

[The formatting is messed up from copying and pasting out of a word document of the recipes. Sorry.]

A sweet woman (Jane) in our branch responded that she’d show us some Chinese recipes when we asked if anyone would teach us how to cook some Chinese food. Her life is crazy busy (always) but she made time last Saturday (5/21) to show a handful of us some recipes. She’s from Hong Kong, and didn’t really learn how to cook until college at BYU but has lived in Shanghai and Beijing for about 7 years now.

First… chicken for Sweet and Sour Chicken and for General Tao’s chicken (the second recipe she admitted isn’t really Chinese, but she has to make food her kids will eat).

Chicken in batter


  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

Notes: We ended up quadrupling the batter (doubling it in two bowls). I’m not sure how much chicken we had…at least 8+ breasts. She used sunflower oil. Change the oil after a few batches. Check if oil is hot enough by putting chopsticks in…if small bubbles form around them, it’s ready.


  1. Coat the chicken pieces with 1/2 of cornstarch; set aside.
  2. Beat the eggs, salt, and pepper in a mixing bowl until smooth. Stir in the flour and baking powder until no large lumps remain. Mix in the chicken until evenly coated.
  3. Heat the vegetable oil in a deep wok or large skillet over high heat. Drop in the chicken pieces; cook until golden brown and no longer pink on the inside, about 12 minutes. Set the chicken aside; keep warm.


Sweet and Sour Sauce

  • 1 (8 ounce) can pineapple chunks, drained (juice reserved)
  • (Jane uses the juice and then fresh pineapple)
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 3/4 cups water, divided
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 2 drops orange food color (optional)
  • 8 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves – cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1/2 onion, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 green bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces(or red or yellow or orange)

***Batter: see General Tao’s Chicken recipe

In a saucepan, combine 1 1/2 cups water, sugar, vinegar, reserved pineapple juice, and orange food coloring. Heat to boiling. Turn off heat. Combine 1/4 cup cornstarch and 1/4 cup water; slowly stir into saucepan. Continue stirring until mixture thickens.

Slightly cook onion, add green peppers, pineapple chunks, add hot sweet and sour sauce, put chicken pieces on platter, pour sauce over chicken pieces.

General Tao’s Chicken sauce

  • 4 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger root
  • 1 clove chopped garlic
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onion
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup oyster sauce
  • 1/4 cup ketchup


Reduce the heat to medium-high and stir in the sesame oil, ginger, and green onion. Cook and stir until the onion is limp and the garlic, ginger begins to brown, about 1 minute. Pour in the water, vinegar, and sugar; bring to a boil. Dissolve the cornstarch in the soy sauce and add to the simmering vinegar along with the oyster sauce and ketchup. Stir until the sauce has thickened and is no longer cloudy. Stir in the chicken and simmer until hot.

Chinese Green Beans with Pork


  • 1/2 lb. ground pork
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons rice wine (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon peppercorns (if you have them) freshly ground
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons garlic chili sauce (optional)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 lb. fresh green beans or long beans, trimmed and cut in half if desired (and blanched or boiled first)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced

In a small bowl toss the pork with 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of rice wine, sugar and the ground pepper. Marinate at room temperature while assembling the rest of the ingredients.

Make the brown sauce: in a separate bowl combine the remaining tablespoon of soy sauce, the remaining teaspoon of rice wine (optional), chili garlic sauce (optional), sugar, sesame oil and cornstarch. Set aside.

Heat a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat and add the oil.

When the oil is hot add the beans, and salt and stir fry them for 10 minutes, or until they begin to brown and blister. Remove the beans from the pan using a slotted spoon and pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the oil. Return the pan to the heat and add the pork, garlic and ginger. Stir fry for about 3 minutes (optional, add some chopped chili peppers) or until there is no longer any pink color to the pork. Add the reserved sauce and green beans and mix well. The sauce will begin to thicken and shiny glaze the pork and beans.

Serve with steamed rice or pan fried noodles.

This recipe can be easily doubled. It works well with Chinese long beans, haricots verts, or green beans.

Fried Rice

  • 4-5 cups rice…not too soggy (don’t add too much water when you cook it).
  • 2+ eggs
  • soy sauce
  • green onions
  • veggies, meat, etc.

Heat oil in walk. Scramble eggs. Add rice. Break up rice. Press it flat. Use two spoons to break and stir. Add cooked meat, onion, veggies (diced tiny), diced tomatoes, etc. Add green onions. Add soy sauce until you get the color you want (1/4 – 1/2 cup).

Stir Fry Brown Sauce

  • 1/2 cup beef broth (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons oyster sauce OR 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch

Mutianyu Section – Great Wall of China

Friends in our church branch found out that we hadn’t been to the Great Wall all together. I took the kids with the WAs last June, and B went last August on a school field trip. They were super nice and offered us their van and driver on a day they could do without him. Basically, due to driving restrictions (the husband can’t drive on Mondays and the driver can’t drive on Fridays and has the weekends off) we had to pick a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday for B to call in sick. We also wanted to have nice weather and clean air. We’d decided on Thursday, May 19 when Little Guy threw up that Monday night. Then he threw up more on Tuesday and more on Wednesday. He was mostly recovered, and none of our kids had ever been sick (still puking sick) more than a couple of days so Thursday morning, we decided to go ahead. He carried a bowl (in a grocery bag) on the subway and we rode to their apartment early in the morning to meet their driver (and they loaned us their selfie stick).

We picked the Mutianyu section (less crowded but still close). B had been here before, but the kids and I had gone to Badaling (more crowded, accessible by a surburban train line that hooks up with the subway system). We arrived at the van around 7:30 and arrived at the Great Wall around 9. I miscalculated the cost (and they charged us adult prices for PS and Buddy plus, at Mutianyu we had to payY15 for everyone but Squidgems to ride a tour bus to the cable car area) and we barely had enough money for everything. We’d packed lunches but no water. Luckily we had Y20 left over and B bargained down an overpriced shop owner to get us four waters (still paying double what we’d pay a newstand for water in town). That was a bit stressful. We rode the cable cars up and took the toboggan/slideway down. It turns out the trip down was everyone’s favorite part.

 Figuring out the selfie stick in the van during the drive.

After disembarking the cable car, we headed left (east, I think). There will be a lot of pictures…

There were butterflies and large ants. Squidgems was seriously about to lose it at times due to these bugs freaking him out.

Little Guy had been feeling pukey most of the day (he ended up puking off the Great Wall later in the day) and Squidgems has little legs that get worn out easily, so the two little boys and I hung out in this tower eating snacks while B and the two big kids hiked to a higher up tower.


Sliding down.

We finished about an hour before we had planned to meet the driver. Luckily there are a lot of restaurants that looked like they might take a debit card (Chinese) so B went to Burger King (yes, at the base of the Great Wall) and bought everyone a bottle of water and we ate some more snacks/lunch while we waited.

Luckily the only times that Little Guy really couldn’t have thrown up (the cable car, the slideway sled, our friends’ van, the subway train to and from our friends’ apartment) he was able to hold it together. And now he can say he threw up off the Great Wall… not everyone can say that. 😉

We drove back to town past cherry trees full of fruit, found an ATM, put money on our subway cards and trekked back across town on the subway to our apartment. Overall, a successful day.

Yuanmingyuan Park (Old Summer Palace)


Line 4, Yuanmingyuan Park subway stop, exit B, walk east

Cost: Full access, adults Y25, kids Y10 + more for boats (Y20) and small trolley buses (Y8)

          under 120 cm = free

I’d heard that the ruins of the Old Summer Palace were fun for kids to just run around and the As (our friends from Virginia that live out in Shunyi and are homeschooling now) and the WAs had never been. They both drove and ran into a few problems (apparently when a light goes out here, you might be stuck in an intersection indefinitely because no one knows about treating it like a four way stop). So we arrived a little early and I managed to purchase the full access tickets all by myself.

Top right picture… the kids all congregated on this rock which was a great photo op but while the moms were all getting their cameras ready, this Chinese woman jumped in and had her picture taken.

The park is pretty big and we had a lot of kids with us so we took a boat (actually two boats, we filled one entire boat and then there were still four of us left). After the first boat ride, the little boats docked and then three boats worth of people got on a larger boat and we were altogether.

I like this bottom left picture PS took of me because while we were waiting for the second boat to fill up, my phone rang and I had to answer some questions about the Relief Society activity that was happening the next day and Squidgems was pulling on my sweater trying to tell me something. It just seemed to be a funny way to sum up how crazy my life is right now. I was in the Old Summer Palace, in Beijing, China on a boat talking on the phone for my church calling while kids were pestering me.

After the boat ride, we stopped and ate lunch before entering the ticket area for the ruins. The kids climbed up a “mountain” and had a blast while we ate. After the ruins, they begged to play there again so we let them.

We made the kids group together for this “maze.” All the shorter kids had to be in a group with at least one tall kid so we could keep track of them. While the moms waited for the kids to finish, an old Chinese guy with a selfie stick asked to have a picture of he and his wife with us. The kids finished and we told them out of the corner of our smiling mouths to keep moving or we’d be there all day getting our pictures taken!

We went in a little shop to buy water and as we were walking away, Squidgems started being sad because he wanted an ice cream. I don’t even think M WA heard him, she was just already being sweet and buying him in ice cream. She told me later that sometimes she likes to buy the food she can’t eat (gluten, egg, dairy allergies) for other people so they can enjoy it. She made Squidgems very happy! Then we road this little bus/golf cart back towards where we got on the boat.


Me, trying to be a photographer.

When we got home, Squidgems immediately wanted to make a thank you card for M WA for his ice cream. He even asked me what color her shirt was so he could do a good job drawing a picture of her holding his ice cream and he dictated a note to PS so she could write it for him.

Date Night


Some friends Brandon works with invited us to try a new Indian Restaurant with them and a few other people. Brandon and I met them there. First we walked around the Houhai Lake area and then around the outside of the Drum and Bell Towers and the hutongs there.


The kids and I went to the Drum and Bell Towers last year, but Brandon hadn’t seen them so we walked around the courtyard between them and snapped some pictures before walking through the neighborhood north of them and then back south and east toward the restaurant. It’s sort of a hipster neighborhood… so lots of oblivious Chinese people living their lives, and lots of young foreigners thinking they are awesome because they are the only foreigner on their street.




Insert dinner picture here.

Wangfujing Snack Street


Subway line 1, Wangfujing stop, exit and walk north.

We wanted to check out Wangfujing Snack Street (Donghuamen Snack Night Market) to see crazy stuff like scorpions on a stick. It was worth the visit for the pictures, but I’m not sure any locals actually eat this stuff. Mostly we just saw other tourists taking pictures like we were. The food wasn’t as cheap as other street food, so we just tried a few things that looked like they’d taste good. 

What we ate:

spiral potato on a stick (with tomato aka ketchup)

verdict: consistency of a chip, and messy due to the ketchup 


banana donut thing

verdict: delicious


pineapple rice bowl

verdict: yummy



verdict: always yummy


Tanghulu (candied haw fruit on a stick)

verdict: not as good as we were hoping, kind of weird and mushy


eggroll like things

verdict: hot, and just okay






Then we wandered into a bookstore that had an entire floor of English language books! That took awhile for this book loving family.





Then another bookstore, not at exciting (closer to the subway) but it did have an airplane bedroom set Buddy loved. THEN, we saw the real snack street and the crowds!




Everyone was still hungry so at our subway stop we exited the side where our street food carts are. It was hilarious because the police must have been driving them away. Just as we showed up, they all rode away, returning after a trip around the block. They did this once more before they finally were set up and secure enough to take our orders. Buddy and Little Guy had “hot dogs” on a stick with some spices. B, PS and I had Kao Leng Mian. B got his la (spicy) and PS and I got ours bu la (not spicy). While we waited, I had to dump water on a small fire that ignited one of the times the police had driven away all the street vendors, the kids had their picture taken a bunch, and a random, English speaking Chinese guy gave us a bag of muffins (from a Starbucks type shop) as a thank you for me taking his picture with the kids.



China Life

 Walnut delivery bike (each basket is full of walnuts and in the center is a scale).





In China, not only is 13 bad luck, but so is 4 (so also 14).



Once spring and summer roll in, Chinese men wear these utility vests all the time. Usually they are older than this guy.


 The Xu family from church had us over for dinner and she made us homemade jiaozi! AND, she got stuck eating the mis-shapen ones I made.

 Chocolate ships at an import shop. That’s almost $7USD. I just use M&Ms or chop of candy bars when I make chocolate chip cookies.


This is not the same dog. Two dogs in red shoes.




Right down the street from us is a Chinese Uighur Muslim restaurant. The other day we bought some flat bread from them. I loved the way it looked.


A friend took his picture of a sign. We think it means “no spitting,” which would be a novel idea in China.

A desk in the lobby of B’s building. I want a school desk like this on wheels!


I see bikes like this and I can’t help but think that these were around during the Cultural Revolution.


Matchy matchy couple (and sharing carrying a bag).


 Paul Frank monkey detailed SUV.

A clear day. Further west than I normally take pictures (this section is called Shijingshan Road.) Above, toward the pagoda west of town. Below, toward Beijing, you can see the tallest building.



Buddy’s hot dog lunch from Tous le Jours


 Outside Carrefour… a French grocery store chain, the emergency fire cart. :/


Can you see the long hair growing out of his facial mole?! I’m not sure what it is, but people here seem to keep hair that I would pluck in a second.



Waiting for the train to come home from church, PS took this picture. I guess it’s a little A/C booth.