Hop Sing had a real life cookbook

Bonanza's Victor Sen Yung cooked on and off TV.

Have you ever watched Bonanza and thought "I wish I could eat like those Cartwright fellows." Especially that Hoss. 

Well, it turns out that folks have been able to cook dinner the Ponderosa way ever since 1978. That's the year when Victor Sen Yung, the show's Hop Sing, released his "Great Wok Cookbook." The actor capitalized on Bonanza's popularity, and his profile as the show's chef character, to get his recipes into bookstores everywhere.

In a 1978 profile in the Lincoln Journal Star, Sen Yung detailed what made his recipes so special.

"There's no mystery to Chinese cooking," said Sen Yung. "It's as simple as frying an egg — the main thing is to try."

His goal in writing the book, according to Sen Yung was to "have a wok in every home" in the United States. A wok is, to him, a "very scientifically constructed" piece of kitchenware, and so he included a lot of info about care and maintenance.

Apparently, a common mistake made by new wok-owners is overcleaning. Once a wok has been properly cured, it's important not to scrub it too much. A hot water rinse, a light wipe-down, and a few drops of oil are all it takes to keep up a good wok. When the wok has taken on a black color like a cast iron skillet, it's reached its prime.

"That's when it's good," said Sen Yung. "Like an old friend."

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11 Comments

tootsieg 6 months ago
I always thought Hop Sing was a good cook. The food he made for the Cartwrights always looked good.
jvf 7 months ago
We have this book!
GloryGrace jvf 7 months ago
How do you like it?
jvf GloryGrace 7 months ago
It's an interesting book. A lot of the recipes are American-Cantonese dishes, very few authentic Chinese recipes. Mind you, this book was released in 1974 so Americans weren't ready for authentic, Chinese food yet.
harlow1313 7 months ago
A wok is among a bachelor cook's best friends.
CarolKelley harlow1313 7 months ago
And a busy wife and mother's best friend. I have three wok cookbooks already, but sure would not mind a fourth!
harlow1313 CarolKelley 7 months ago
It does a nice job with food textures, and it cuts way down on dirty pots and pans. I like a one-wok meal.
Runeshaper 7 months ago
This is AWESOME! Never knew this book existed. Way to go, Sen Yung!
Bapa1 7 months ago
He used to come down here in Miami and put on cooking demonstrations in Dept. stores. We went once.
Deleted 7 months ago
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GloryGrace 7 months ago
It's because real Chinese food is way different the American. Especially to cattlemen of that era. You cook what the boss likes to eat. Plus I don't think you could actually get a lot of the ingredients either. So not really a big mystery when you know the era and the culture.
Irish 7 months ago
Wow! I never knew that Hop Sing wrote a cookbook! How cool!
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