It’s been great having my mother here with me in Dallas — every morning when I wake up I am greeted with a warm “Good Morning Xin xin!” opposed to my usual routine of Collin tickling the bottoms of my feet and me grumpily falling out of bed.  Don’t get me wrong, the feet tickling hasn’t stopped., but now I wake up with a sense of excitement because I have my mother there for company.  I no longer clumsily search for my pot of coffee and skip breakfast because nothing sounds good because… okay before I go any further, please refrain all judgment of me being a spoiled child… my mom will be there with a cup of ginseng tea because “Too much coffee is no good Xin xin! Ginseng give you energy.”  After my tea routine my mother continues to check all aspects of my health — “OKAY lemme see your tongue! Oooooh tsk tsk tsk, today tongue is no good I will fix you medicine.  Hmm lemme check your heels!  OOoooh dry heel, sign of bad health, I go get you ointment I massage for you.”

Wow.  A girl could honestly get use to this treatment.  After not living with my mother for almost 10 years, one forgets how well she had it, and trust me I am soaking up the glory right now…every single drop.  When she arrived we made a cooking schedule “Okay you make American Monday Wednesday Friday, I make Chinese Tuesday Thursday Saturday, Collin order pizza Sunday!” Except I haven’t cooked at all because my mother has taken over the kitchen with her wonderful glorious food, and frankly it’s been absolutely frikkin’ AWESOME.

And as I promised, I am going to share the wonderful food with you guys.   Results are best achieved by cooking with a wok on a propane fueled fire station — the temperatures are hotter and as a result gives the dishes a nice smokey flavor.

Ingredients for Pork with Garlic Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 2 teaspoons minced ginger
  • 2 small dried chiles
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless pork, preferably from the shoulder (Boston butt or picnic), cut into thin shreds and thoroughly dried
  • 2 teaspoon corn starch + 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/4 cup dried tree ears, soaked in hot tap water until softened, drained, patted dry, and torn by hand into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup carrots, finely shredded
  • 1/4 cup green bell pepper, finely shredded
  • 1/4 cup white onion, finely shredded
  • 1 bunch of scallions, trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths, white and green parts separated


  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons hot chile paste
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch

Combine the pork, cornstarch, and 1 tablespoon of water in a medium bowl. Cover, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Heat a large wok over high heat. Add enough vegetable oil to come about 1 inch up the sides of the wok, and heat it to 325° F. Add the pork and stir gently until it turns light brown, about 40 seconds. Using a wide wire-mesh strainer, transfer the pork to a colander to drain. Discard all but 4 tablespoons of oil from the wok.

To start the sauce, mix the vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, and rice wine in a small bowl and set it aside. Dissolve the cornstarch in 3 tablespoons cold water, and set it aside. Return the wok to high heat. Add the ginger, garlic, and scallions, and stir-fry until they are fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add onion, carrots, tree ears, and bell pepper and stir-fry until the bell pepper starts to soften, about 30 seconds. Transfer the vegetables to the colander. Add the vinegar mixture to the wok and stir for 10 seconds. Then add the hot chili paste and stir for 10 seconds more. Return the pork and vegetables to the wok, and stir-fry until the sauce comes to a boil and thickens, about 20 seconds. Add the hot chili oil, if using, and stir-fry for 10 seconds. Add the sesame oil and serve immediately.

Wow, it’s a tough life I live here in the Wells household…:)

I would also like to share a couple photography shoots I’ve done recently — one was an engagement shoot for my bestfriend and the other was of my adorable nephew.


  1. Sara says: 25 Aug ’10 • 09:36:15

    Wow, Joy you are so lucky to have your mom stay and COOK for you!!! Lucky girl~Enjoy your Mamma!!! :) Love the recipe!
    I wonder what it means to have dry elbows~ could ya ask your mom?! :)


  2. Kate says: 25 Aug ’10 • 09:54:12

    Sounds like an “in home” vacation! How nice to be so spoiled! You are lucky to have your mom visiting you.


  3. Michelle says: 25 Aug ’10 • 10:07:39

    This looks wonderful! Thanks for sharing!


  4. Lawyer Loves Lunch says: 25 Aug ’10 • 10:16:54

    Joy, this is such a nice post! It totally made me miss my own mom. I would totally relinquish control of my kitchen for my mom’s cooking too :) Oh, and your nephew has the best hair ever!


  5. RavieNomNoms says: 25 Aug ’10 • 10:20:18

    First off, food looks fantastic! Thank goodness it is my lunch hour at work. Second off, your pictures are fabulous, thanks so much for sharing them


  6. Suzee says: 25 Aug ’10 • 12:11:13

    Do you think your mom would want another daughter? Sign me up!!!
    The food looks amazing too!


  7. MaryMoh says: 25 Aug ’10 • 13:06:23

    I’m enjoying this post with a big smile that you are so spoilt now with your mom around and yet with envy….I need a good massage…haha. How awesome to have your mom around! She is such a good cook :D Joy, love your photography. They are very beautiful and your nephew is so adorable :D Enjoy your days to your fullest while your mom is there with you.


  8. TS of eatingclub vancouver says: 25 Aug ’10 • 15:28:29

    Oh, your mother sounds adorable! Lucky, lucky you! =)


  9. [email protected] says: 25 Aug ’10 • 16:41:10

    This dish looks absolutely scrumptious.. as soon as I get some pork I’m trying it on my night to cook. Your pictures are great!! This post made me miss my mom.. but I get to see her next week :)


  10. tigerfish says: 25 Aug ’10 • 18:40:14

    You and your nephew have lots of resemblance :) …lovely family dish cooked by Mom is the best.


  11. kristy says: 25 Aug ’10 • 19:11:04

    How nice of that your mom is finally here! That’s also mean she’ll be leaving for Shanghai soon. I’m pretty sure you going to miss her dearly. So, never waste a thing she cooked for you! , Guess, you &
    Collin going to put on weight these few weeks. haha…. Have lots of fun and enjoy your day.
    Blessings, kristy


  12. City Share says: 25 Aug ’10 • 20:27:30

    How wonderful to have your mother staying with you, and then on top of that she cooks for you too. Enjoy your time together! Thanks for the Shredded Pork with Garlic Sauce recipe. It looks delicious.


  13. penny aka jeroxie says: 25 Aug ’10 • 23:05:23

    I love when my mum comes over too. She can’t cook but I am happy to cook for her.


  14. Squeaky Gourmet says: 26 Aug ’10 • 07:50:00

    I want your mom to come and teach me how to cook! What a nice mama to come and take care of you, too!
    The recipe looks heavenly–I do not know what tree ears are…..:(

    The pictures of the photo shoots you did came out GREAT!


  15. All That I’m Eating says: 27 Aug ’10 • 11:44:57

    This has made me so hungry. It looks really good. I’m very jealous.


  16. cath1991 says: 28 Aug ’10 • 18:04:22

    Your nephew is SOOO very adorable! And the food looks delish! :D


  17. Say What? says: 29 Aug ’10 • 12:02:43

    You lost me with the goofy friend photos. Otherwise a fun blog. Love that you finagled your mother to move in after you got married. Genius!


  18. Christine @ Fresh Local and Best says: 29 Aug ’10 • 13:51:44

    You are so lucky to have your mom with you right now. What am I saying – you’re lucky anytime your mom is treating you with so much care. This looks like a delicious stir-fry, I love the addition of wood ears.

    I’m sending the sending the wedding planner tomorrow, so you should have it by Thursday. Sorry it’s taken so long!


  19. Lisa {AuthenticSuburbanGourmet } says: 29 Aug ’10 • 14:21:23

    That pork dish looks out of this world and a must make. Great job on the photos!! :)


  20. lemonsandanchovies says: 31 Aug ’10 • 14:08:21

    How lucky are you? You get mom’s TLC everyday and are fed well to boot! Your mom’s pork with garlic sauce looks awesome. So much better than what I would get at my local resto and you’ve get to eat it at home! :-)


  21. Nadia says: 1 Sep ’10 • 11:42:43

    I always love your photos, Joy! So inspiring!

    I will definitely try this dish with chicken!


  22. TripleScoop says: 1 Sep ’10 • 17:01:33

    Joy…Hmm..I bet your neighbors get hungry when your mom is cooking outside with the WOK. Do they ever come knocking at the door after smelling that great Chinese food? :)


  23. …Something To Learn… says: 1 Sep ’10 • 22:17:37

    So nice to hear how much you love spending time with your mom — and that she is cooking! And that you are sharing her recipes! As always, great photography… Thank you.


  24. Angie says: 9 Sep ’10 • 17:26:34

    Your nephew is adorable!

    And beautiful photos you took of your friend, I haven’t seen her in ages and she looks lovely! Please tell her congrats!


  25. Brad Bradley says: 13 Sep ’10 • 20:54:43

    Thanks for the tasty recipe, I hope you had a nice summer!


    • Joy Zhang says: 30 Sep ’10 • 01:10:18

      Hey thanks Brad!! You too :)

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