Martin Yan

Martin Yan
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Martin is dedicated to dispelling the mysteries of Asian cooking, he says. He strives to further understanding of the cuisines and the cultures that created them — always with a sense of fun and entertainment.

Martin Yan
Martin's Featured Recipe
Sweet Plum Vinaigrette

Click here for recipe

Martin Yan is a cooking consultant, teacher, and cookbook author who is perhaps best known for his daily television show, Yan Can Cook.


He has written more than 30 books, many of which have won awards. Some of the best known are Martin Yan’s Feast; Martin Yan’s Asian Favorites; Chinese Cooking for Dummies; Martin Yan’s Chinatown Cooking (with an introduction by Julia Child); Martin Yan’s Quick & Easy; and Martin Yan’s China. Martin Yan’s China is his most recent.


Martin launched Yan Can Cook in 1978 and since then, through the television show, has reached millions of viewers. Recently, Yan took his TV cameras to China to share with his viewers the multifaceted, varied cuisine of his home country. Called "Martin Yan’s China," the 26-part series is broadcast on PBS.


“Most Americans and I do not realize how complex China is and how different each region can be,” explains the chef. “They think of it as huge, but ‘huge’ does not begin to describe the multitude of dialects, cultural subtleties and distinct cuisines. Chinese cuisine is nuanced by the produce and meat or fish sourced locally, and by the variety of spices used. Each region has its own cultural and culinary profile, and that is what I hope to highlight for the American viewer.”


Martin was born in Guangzhou, China. His father was a restaurateur and his mother ran a grocery store. Imbued with a love of cooking at an early age, it was a natural move, when at the age of 13, he signed on as an apprentice at a popular Hong Kong restaurant. He next studied at the Overseas Institute of Cookery in Hong Kong.


He soon moved to California to attend the University of California, Davis, to study food science and it was there that he discovered how much he liked to teach when he became an instructor in the university’s extension program.


Since, Martin has taught at the Culinary Institute of America, Johnson & Wales University, The California Culinary Academy, and the Chinese Cuisine Institute in Hong Kong. He founded the Yan Can Cook Cooking School in California in 1985, and in 2007, opened The Martin Yan Culinary Arts Center. The Arts Center is an academy for chefs in Shenzhen, China.


Martin is also a restaurateur. His Yan Can and SensAsian restaurants offer pan-Asian food to American diners.


Martin lives in California. His website is


Latest Recipes

Black Bean Sauce

Black Bean Sauce is an essential condiment for anyone who loves making authentic Chinese food at home. This black bean sauce recipe is made from a combination of broth, black beans, rice wine, and green onions. The black bean mixture is combined with garlic and ginger that has been sauteed in oil. Cornstarch helps to thicken the sauce. This homemade black bean sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. It can be used in stir-fries or tossed with noodles for a simple but flavorful mean.

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Steamed Tofu with Black Bean Sauce

Ive heard the complaint countless times tofu is too bland. Instead of seeing it as a flaw, however, I see it as a strength. The neutral...

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Sweet Plum Vinaigrette

Chinese cooks can think of 101 uses for plum sauce and are taking advantage of the unique tart and sweet flavor to brighten up salads. Th...

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Sweet Vinegar Peanuts

Despite its diminutive size, the peanut has an important place in the Chinese kitchen. It is both a popular staple and the source of the ...

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Fortune Noodle Meatball Soup

Soup is the ultimate comfort food, and this is the ultimate soup. I love this soup on a cold, wintry day. It has everything I like: meatb...

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Rich Homemade Broth

A good broth has saved the reputation of countless chefs and home cooks. In a professional kitchen, two different types of stock are made...

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Chili Oil

Do not confuse this with vegetable oil, which is commonly used for stir-frying and deep-frying food. Chili oil is a flavoring agent; a li...

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Dry-Fried Green Beans

Green beans have had a rough time in North America. For generations, they have had the misfortune of being overcooked and served bland an...

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Red and Gold Fried Rice

This dish combines two Canton classics: tomato beef and fried rice. Tasty and fulfilling, it’s also quick and easy to make. The dash of k...

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Noodle Salad with Peanut Dressing

These days, chilled noodles are lauded as a new discovery in the West. Of course, in Sichuan, noodles have been served chilled as long as...

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Peanut Dressing

You don’t have to be choosy to choose homemade peanut dressing. It’s simple to make and you can create different flavors by substituting ...

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Prosperity Steamed Fish

In China, fish is a symbol of wealth and prosperity. Steamed fish is a popular dish to serve during special occasions, such as formal ban...

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