Yan Can Cook

Yan Can Cook - Siu Mai Presentation

Greetings Everyone:

This month’s newsletter is Martin Yan’s China

With his characteristic warmth and humor, Martin has been instrumental in bringing authentic Asian cusisine into home kitchens everywhere!

The Featured Topics are:


Yan Can Cook - Chef Martin Yan

Chef Martin Yan captured our attention, admiration, and all of our hearts by spicing his cooking artistry with a very important personal ingredient: WIT.

Born in Guangzhou, China, to a restaurateur father and a mother who operated a grocery store, Chef Yan possessed a passion for cooking at an early age. His formal induction into the culinary world began at age thirteen, with an apprenticeship at a popular Hong Kong restaurant.

He now is the author of over 35 cookbooks and star of the popular PBS series “Yan Can Cook”.

Knife skills are very important to cooking says Yan. He sliced and diced with incredible skill and everyone was in awe! He cut up a whole chicken in 18 seconds flat! And made beautiful garnishes for his dishes. His philosophy is “never waste anything”.

His new book has over 100 recipes and is packed with stunning photographs and fascinating stories from Martin’s extensive travels.

Yin Yang Seafood Pockets

In Chinese philosophy, the universe operates as two opposing but complementary principles: “yang” meaning fire, light, and dominance, and “yin,” meaning air, water, and submission. The dominance of one over the other creates health or financial problems. One way to restore harmony is through diet. For instance, eating only proteins and deep-fried foods creates too much yang. Cool down with vegetables, fruits, and water.

When balanced, these principles coexist productively: Yang creates ideas and yin produces material forms. Chef Yan says he has given you the yang – great recipe ideas. Now you supply the yin – go make them!

Yan Can Cook - Yin Yang Seafood Pocket

Makes 10 to 12 dumplings


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 cup shredded napa cabbage
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrot
  • 1/2 cup yellow chives or bean sprouts
  • 1/4 cup shredded red onion
  • 1 tablespoon oyster-flavored sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 lb. raw shrimp, peeled, de-veined and chopped
  • 20 to 24 round potsticker wrappers
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar

To prepare the filling, place a stir fry pan over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil, swirling to coat the sides. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 10 seconds. Add the shrimp, cabbage, carrot, chives, and onion and stir-fry until the vegetables are tender-crisp, about 2 minutes. Add the oyster-flavored sauce and sesame oil and toss to coat. Transfer the vegetable mixture to a colander to drain. Set aside in a medium bowl.

To form the dumplings, place 1 dumpling wrapper on a clean, flat surface, keeping the remaining wrappers covered with a damp kitchen towel to prevent them from drying out. Place 2 heaping tablespoons of filling in the center of the wrapper. Moisten the edges with the egg wash. Top with a second wrapper and secure the edges. Starting from one end of the wrapper, slightly fold over the edge (like a pie crust) and continue folding around the dumpling. Repeat this process with the remaining wrappers and filling. Keep the dumplings covered with a damp kitchen towel to prevent them from drying out.

To cook the dumplings, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of the filled dumplings, flat side down, and cook, without turning, until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Add the vinegar and water. Reduce the heat to medium, cover, and steam until the dumplings are tender, about 4 minutes.

Combine the soy sauce and vinegar together in a small bowl. Set aside. Transfer the dumplings to a serving plate. Serve with the dipping sauce on the side.

Siu Mai with Spicy Tomato Sauce

After feasting on dim sum (touch the heart) you’ll appreciate its name! This small-plate cuisine can be traced to ancient teahouses along the Silk Road. Following an imperial physician’s dictum to never ingest tea with food, teahouses origianlly offered weary merchants and farmers only tea.

When tea later became known as a digestive aid, enterprising teahouse operators began serving snacks. During the tenth-century Sung Dynasty, the art of dim sum flourished, with chefs creating more than a thousand tasty little dishes to accompany tea. And the classic Chinese brunch was born!

Yan Can Cook - Spicy Tomato Sauce

Makes 12 dumplings, about 4 servings


  • 8 ounces ground beef
  • 2 whole water chestnuts, minced
  • 2 teaspoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
  • 2 teaspoons oyster-flavored sauce
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 12 square wonton skins


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 2 teaspoons water
  • 2 lettuce leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • 1 green onion, chopped

To make the filling, combine the ground beef, water chestnuts, rice wine, oyster sauce, and cornstarch in a bowl until well mixed.

To make the dumplings, place a heaping teaspoon of the filling in the center of a wonton wrapper.(Keep the remaining wrappers covered with a damp kitchen towel to prevent them from drying out.) Bring the sides of the wrapper together, bunching them around the filling and smoothing any pleats. Flatten the bottom of the dumpling by tapping it against a flat surface, and squeeze the sides of the dumpling gently so the filling plumps out of the top. Keep the formed dumplings covered with a damp kitchen towel to prevent them from drying out.

To make the sauce, heat a wok or stir fry pan over high heat until hot. Add the oil, swirling to coat the sides. Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 10 seconds. Add the tomatoes and stir-fry until the excess liquid is evaporated, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the broth, chili garlic sauce, soy sauce, and sesame oil and bring to a boil. Add the cornstarch mixture and cook, stirring, until the sauce boils and thickens, about 1 minute. Keep the sauce warm over low heat.

Prepare a wok or stir-fry pan for steaming. Line a steaming basket with the lettuce leaves. Arrange the dumplings, without touching one another, in the prepared basket. Cover and steam over high heat until the filling is cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes.

Pour the sauce onto a serving plate. Arrange the siu mai on top of the sauce. Sprinkle the cilantro and green onion on top and serve.

Below is Siu Mai garnished and the featured image is of Yan’s superb knife skills.

Yan Can Cook - Diu Mai Steamed

Dry-Fried Glass Noodles

You might find noodles in a variety of colors at your Chinese market-yellow from eggs, green with ground tea or spinach, or tinged purple by tiaro root, for example. Although most noodles are processed by machine, “hand-pulling” noodles remains a classic culinary art still practiced by Chinese noodle chefs. In Shanxi Province-the noodle capital of China- you can find chefs hand pulling noodles in many popular noodle restaurants. It takes years of practice to perfect the technique of stretching and twirling the dough until it’s the right length and elasticity. After repeated folding, the prepared dough can then be cut into noodles that are broad and fat or thin like string, but never, never cut short!

Yan Can Cook - Dry-Fried Glass Noodles

Makes 6 servings

4 ounces dried bean thread noodles


  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 4 ounces ground pork or turkey
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1 tablespoon hot bean paste or chili garlic sauce
  • 3 whole dried red chilies
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 fresh hot chili, sliced into rings, for garnish

Pour enough warm water over noodles in a large bowl to cover completely. Soak until softened, about 10 minutes. Drain thoroughly. Cut noodles with scissors into 3 inch-long pieces.

To make the marinade, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Add the meat and stir to coat evenly. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Place a stir fry pan over high heat until hot. Add the oil, swirling to coat the sides. Add the garlic, ginger, bean paste, and dried chilies and cook, stirring, until fragrant. Add the meat and stir-fry until meat is no longer pink, about 2 minutes. Add the soy sauce, salt, and noodles and cook, stirring, until well mixed, about 4 minutes. Stir in the green onion and sesame oil.

Transfer to a serving plate, garnish with the fresh chilies, and serve.

I hope you all enjoyed these wonderful recipes from Chef Yan’s new book.

He truly is a delightful man and so very talented with his signature all purpose chef knife that he promotes. Of course I had to purchase one. Hoping that one day, I could slice and dice, chop, cut up a chicken, and do everything else he can do with that knife.

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