Chinese Food in Minutes continues on Five

Tuesday 13 April 2010 at 7.30pm on Five

The series exploring the joys of Chinese cuisine continues. This instalment sees two Yorkshire estate agents experiment with groundnut and sesame oil. Ching cooks crispy king prawns in a sweet-and-sour sauce, Taiwanese three-cup chicken and spicy pork and prawn wontons. It is then the turn of her two proteges to recreate the recipes for their friends and family.

Before she starts cooking, Ching-He Huang takes her latest students, Bridlington estate agents and friends Lianne and Nicky, to London’s Chinatown for some ingredients shopping. Today she is focusing on the store-cupboard staples of groundnut oil and sesame oil. Although Lianne and Nicky both love good food, they spend more time showing clients new houses than they do in their own kitchens. After long days at work, they have both picked up the habit of eating regular takeaways, and are keen to learn some fresh and healthy new recipes.

Ching takes the pair to her outdoor kitchen to prepare her first recipe of Sichuan-style sweetand- sour prawns. She coats fresh juicy prawns in a light batter made from eggs and potato flour, then fries them until they are golden brown. She then makes a base for the sweet-and-sour sauce from garlic, ginger and chillies. Ching believes these three elements are so vital to Chinese cookery that she refers to them as “the holy trinity”. To this base she adds tomato ketchup and brown sugar to sweeten, then lime and spring onions to sharpen the taste. She then drizzles the sauce over the prawns to serve.

The second dish Ching makes is called three-cup chicken. This recipe is very close to her heart, as it comes from her birthplace of Thailand. She chops and fries chicken thighs in ginger and garlic, then adds rice wine, soy sauce and sesame oil in equal measure – the ‘three cups’ to which the name refers. She then sweetens the dish with brown sugar and garnishes with chopped chillies and fresh basil leaves. Ching takes the couple’s silence as a sign that they are savouring the food. Nicky uses this as an excuse to have a light-hearted dig at her friend. “The only time Lianne’s quiet is when her mouth’s full!” she says.

The two estate agents clearly have the gift of the gab, but can they cook as well as they talk? Lianne tackles the three-cup chicken while Nicky tries the sweet-and-sour prawns. Both are confident that they will win the competition, so Ching leaves them to it as she prepares her wontons. She mixes finely chopped prawns with pork mince, rice wine and spring onions, then fills her pre-made wonton cases and boils them for five minutes.

Meanwhile, Nicky’s prawn dish is coming along nicely until she overdoes it with the fiery Sichuan peppercorns. As the pals plate up their food to serve to their friends and family, it appears Lianne has the upper hand. “Don’t worry Nicky, they can eat mine instead!” she jokes. Is her confidence justified, or is she about to learn some harsh truths about her cooking skills?

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