Most of you have found yourselves studying the Passive at one time or another in your CISL classes. Like many other concepts, how you construct it is not as confusing as why or when you should use it. We’re going to mention this month just one common use of the passive, and we’ll add a delicious example of it for you!

Forming the passive is easy – TO BE (present, future, any tense you like) + the PAST PARTICIPLE (speak/spoke/spoken; write/wrote/written, etc.) So we get sentences like “That book was written by Barbara Kingsolver;” and “The water should be boiled before you drink it.” That last sentence gives you an example of that common use of the passive we mentioned: we use it to GIVE INSTRUCTIONS. And what better place to find instructions than in a cookbook! For those of you who enjoy spicy hot Szechwan Chinese dishes, this will be a real bonus, but don’t forget the passive examples throughout!



  • 1 pound (1/2 kilo) sliced beef
  • 2 chopped green onions (scallions)
  • 2 Tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  • The peel (skin) of ½ fresh orange, chopped
  • Dried red chili peppers, chopped into small pieces
  • minced garlic and minced ginger
  • corn starch mixed with water

First, the beef is sliced into bite-sized pieces. Then it is mixed with the ginger, garlic and soy sauce and covered and left for about 25 minutes. While the meat mixture is being marinated, the green onions and the chili peppers can be chopped and the ½ orange peel needs to be cut up into small pieces.

After the 25 minutes, the beef slices are removed from the marinade and drained (THE MARINADE MUST BE SAVED. IT WILL BE ADDED TO THE SAUCE!)

The beef slices must be cooked in the oil over very high heat; when they are browned, then the green onions, chili peppers and orange peel are added. After about 3 minutes, the soy sauce, oyster sauce and sesame oil should be added to the meat and everything should be stirred and fried rapidly for another minute, then the marinade must be added and stirred in. When the mixture is heated, the toasted sesame seeds are quickly added and the meal is finished and should be served immediately! This is one of my favorite recipes and it should be eaten with plain white rice. Be careful – it is very spicy!