I want to cook celery so it tastes like it came from a Chinese restaurant

IME, the flavor people most associate with Chinese restaurant cooking is from the sesame oil added at the end.

“Delicious” isn’t the point. “The same as the restaurant” is a different question.

Use bokchoy instead of [American] celery.

I also endorse 2 other suggestions in this thread: cut pieces at an angle, and sprinkle a little Chinese sesame oil on the completed dish immediately before serving.

But to get the same taste as American celery from an American Chinese restaurant, you need American celery.

Tangent: from the reference:
“The reason a flame ignites is due to the water on the ingredients causing fine oil droplets that mix with the oxygen in the air coming into contact with the flames below the wok when the food is tossed.”

Actually, mixing oil with steam causes thermal cracking: you get short-chain volatile hydrocarbons mixed with the air.


:slight_smile: You aren’t being clear there. There aren’t too many home cooks that use the * flame * technique. They all use woks.

Very very many chefs and good translations recommend (and I can vouch for it) that a the simplest and best way to saute greens is with (peanut) oil a touch of salt, and a touch of either chicken fat or lard at the end; I prefer lard, because it is less recognizable as a taste but simply adds it’s depth to the dish.

If you’d like to serve celery, either slice it thin thin shreds vertically (after cutting it quarterly), salt it lightly, let it sit for a while to shed water, squeeze it and serve it up (“raw”) as a salad with a little vinegar and sugar and maybe sesame oil if you feel like it.

For sautéing, the spinach, soft greens, etc., the quick stir in oil and salt with the fat add does the trick; many times you can add a little minced garlic first.

For celery sliced in thin rounds or ovals, and, as for boy choy stems, other quick stir preparations for harder vegetables, give it a quick boil or steam–30 secs? a minute?–to “break the rawness,” as I’ve read the expression is. Then proceed as above or for whatever.

Yes there are other recipes for hardish vegetable of course–gosh, if you like celery you must get your hands on celtuce- (this english name has “celery” as part of it for a reason—but the above is standard sure fire and tasty.

ETA to above. Just to be clear, Chinese celery (tastes like more concentrated Western celery) is way different that celtuce.

Coincidentally enough, I spent the long weekend as a tourist in Chicago, and one of the things that I found kind of neat was a Chinese restaurant (north of the river north of the loop, don’t remember the name) that had really, really good food, and there was, indeed, a Mexican-looking cook using a wok.

I guess it’s regional. When I think “generic Chinese restaurant” I think of the ones like I mentioned above, i.e., everything including the business plan being provided by a single supplier. You know: the Taco Bell of Chinese food. While there are a few standout Chinese restaurants (including a truly excellent one near me), these are kind of the exception in my area.

Note the Location: Michigan. :wink:

here they cook everything on a flat round stove type of thing and do this bit where they do a lap around it cooking and chopping and by the time they get to where they started the foods done