Spicing it Up: The Perfect Recipe to Help You Survive the Dreaded “I’ll Cook for You Date”

Chef Mike Ward has cooked in some of Sydney’s and Toronto’s most acclaimed restaurants and has owned several catering companies over the years. You can find more of his recipes at www.chefmikeward.com

Tonight’s the night.

It’s your second or third date and you’ve invited your potential new partner to your place for dinner. Suddenly, what seemed like a good idea a few nights ago when you were both tipsy and making out (while the cabbies metre kept running) has now hit home.

“What am I going to cook?”


As if you don’t already have enough on your plate; scrub the bathroom, fold the laundry, and hide potentially embarrassingly self help books….You have to cook the perfect meal for two, AND make it look easy.

First of all, relax; no one’s expecting a Michelin rated meal tonight. (At least, they better not be.)

So there are only two things you need to achieve:

1. Demonstrate that you can cook a little bit (aka: be careful not to bite off a recipe idea that’s so complicated you’re flirting with failure).
2. Get your date fed in a timely fashion so you can get back to getting to know each other.

Well, this delicious dish covers all your bases – fast, flashy, flavourful, and almost impossible to ruin.

Like a lot of Asian-style cooking, this dish is all about being prepared. Open a bottle of wine while you chop up your veggies and prepare your ingredients. The cooking time is only 5 minutes, that’s just long enough to give your date a glimmer of your awe inspiring culinary prowess without getting yourself into hot water. So let’s get at it.

Ingredients (Serves 2)
– 12 medium-sized peeled shrimp
– 2 handfuls of bok choy (any Asian greens will do)
– Finely chopped clove of garlic
– Birds eye chili (or any fresh chili, to taste)
– Teaspoon of finely sliced ginger
– Tablespoon of honey
– Tablespoon of soy sauce
– Tablespoon of rice wine vinegar
– Tablespoon of sesame oil
– 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds dry roasted in a pan (done earlier in the day)

Have your shrimp cleaned and de-veined, your bok choy chopped length ways, and all your sauces on hand. This dish cooks fast so having your ingredients ready and close is the key to showing off your mad skills.

Add shrimp to a hot pan with oil (any oil is fine). Fry 30 seconds per side, then add garlic, ginger, and chili. Before garlic browns (but softens) add honey, 30 seconds later add soy and vinegar. Then add bok choy, toss, 2 mins later add sesame oil, toss again, and plate (you want your bok choy still a little crispy). Garnish with coriander and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. And whatever you do light candles and throw on some tunes – trust me, that’ll make the meal taste even better.