Do we really eat Sweet & Sour Pork, Lemon Chicken, Mongolian Beef, Satay or Honey Chicken like what 'Chinese' restaurants or those little 'Asian' foodcourt outlets sell? The answer is NO, we very seldom, if at all, cook those sort of dishes at home. In fact, traditional home-cooked dishes are almost nothing like what you'd find on the menus of 'Chinese' or 'Asian' restaurants in Australia. I have not seen any dish in all the restaurants I have been that is similar to what I cook at home - which sometimes may be a 'good' thing as I can order something that I won't cook at home!
In a restaurant kitchen environment, by virtue of how they have to cook dishes to order within a very short time, they need to prepare tubs of different 'sauces' beforehand so they can very quickly 'mix' sauces into whatever combination of meat and vegetables to make up dishes like Mongolian or Black Bean whatever. And in most busy restaurants, even the battered pieces of meat for, say, Sweet & Sour Pork, or Lemon Chicken are most probably pre-fried during prep time. A serving amount would then be re-fried quickly to crisp them up, and cooked in whatever sauce needed with whatever pre-cut vegetables that go with that dish, then served. It is just not possible for the kitchen to prep each and every sauce and dish individually from scratch within the limited time frame for an order to go out.
At home, we don't (or at least, I don't) use those bottled, sugar and salt laden 'simmer' sauces like sweet/sour sauce, or satay sauce where all you need is add meat/vegetables, simmer and serve.
|Choy Sum and Chicken Stir Fry|
However, commercially available pastes like fermented bean paste, black bean paste, miso, etc, and sauces like soy sauce, oyster sauce, etc, are widely used by virtue that they take can months of proper fermentation to produce, so they are not something a normal household can (or would) make from scratch. However, only small amounts of such pastes and sauces are used as a base flavour in a dish. Other flavour profiles are added with the use of aromatics such as garlic, onions, other seasonings, spices or herbs.
Below are pictures of some dishes that I cook and serve at home - some traditional, and some I adapted or invented. Most stir fries are cooked on the stove top using a wok as that is the best method for stir fries. However, I do adapt certain dishes to be cooked with the help of an air fryer and/or a thermo cooker if I believe the results will be just as good using these modern appliances.
I have shared home cooked dishes in previous posts, and plan to share more of them going forward. Some dishes may have familiar names like Mapo Tofu (but adapted using ingredients we like), some may have super weird names that I grew up knowing them as, and some I simply name them myself lol.
|Braised Vegetarian Dish|
|Vegetarian Mock Duck Stir Fry|
|Crispy Skin Salmon with Spring Onion Sauce|
|Braised Pork Ribs with Pumpkin and Potatoes|
|Stuffed Bitter Melon|
|Apple and Mince Pork Stir Fry|