Making this one-dish meal is even faster than waiting for the Chinese food to arrive—and it's a brilliant use of packaged coleslaw mix and presliced wild mushrooms. Since you can't buy moo shu pancakes at supermarkets, flour tortillas are a perfect cross-cultural substitute.
"I was a student in Beijing during World War II," says chef Cecilia Chiang. "To flee occupied China, I walked with my sister to Chongqing; it took close to six months. Crossing different provinces, I found out the foods are quite different. In the north, for instance, people eat a lot of sorghum, millet and wheat instead of rice. In Shanghai homes, this stir-fried cabbage-and-pork recipe is typical."
Zach Brooks adores this sweet-spicy Chinese-American restaurant staple. The version here is lighter than take-out because the chicken is only lightly coated in cornstarch and is pan-fried rather than deep-fried.
Wendy Leon gives this classic Chinese squid dish a fun twist by flavoring it with five-spice powder (typically a ground mixture of cinnamon, star anise, black peppercorns, fennel and clove). "It's her version of a Super Bowl snack," says her son Humberto. "Most kids eat chips; we grew up eating squid."
Large nonstick skillets that can create a sear are ideal for stir-fries. For this recipe, mkgallery's Grace Parisi creates layers of flavor with Chinese chile-garlic sauce and matchsticks of fresh ginger.
Sylvan Mishima Brackett uses Dungeness crab to make these open steamed dumplings, but any lump crabmeat will work well. The dumplings are juicy and flavorful on their own, so they’re best served simply with just a little Chinese mustard and soy sauce, for dipping.
The ingenious topping of quick-fried cellophane noodles makes this eye-catching slaw irresistibly crunchy. Wendy Leon likes to serve it alongside Peking duck; tossing it with shrimp or tofu would make for an even healthier main course.
Takashi Yagihashi cooks scallops, squid and shrimp in stock, soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, chili oil, sesame oil and mirin, then tops the dish with crispy deep-fried noodles. For a simplified version, stir-fry shrimp in a small amount of oil and top with a light sprinkling of crunchy instant ramen noodles.
Fermented black beans, the key ingredient in black bean sauce (along with garlic, sugar and salt), give this Asian stir-fry an enormous amount of flavor while keeping the overall ingredient list simple. Bottled black bean sauce is available in the Asian section of most supermarkets; Grace Parisi recommends the Kikkoman brand.
Joanne Chang's mother used to make this sweet-and-spicy shrimp stir-fry all the time. When she was old enough to cook, Chang asked her mom for the recipe." She hemmed and hawed until she finally gave it to me, revealing her secret ingredient: ketchup."
Melissa Rubel Jacobson seasons chunks of tender, succulent pork shoulder with Chinese five-spice powder (a mixture of cinnamon, fennel seeds, cloves, star anise and Szechuan peppercorns), which is a fast way to add Asian flavor.
"A few years ago," Sang Yoon recalls, "I caught a cold and my friend Sal Marino invited me for a bowl of stracciatella alla romana, the Italian soup with egg strands and semolina. I went home and made my own ghetto version with broth from a box, and realized it would taste even better with ginger and spinach."
Asian street-food carts sometimes serve food in banana leaves instead of using plates or bowls. Look for them at Asian markets. Here, Melissa Rubel Jacobson wraps the leaves around silky Chinese noodles.