If it is possible to feel pride in one’s kitchen implements, I definitely am proud of my wok. I believe I paid $14 for it at Shuang Hur market down on Nicollet. The pride comes from the fact that I managed to not just season it, but season it perfectly, on my old electric stove in the Belmont. It took a long time. Many sessions of standing over the stove, rolling the oiled wok around the burner, breathing in the smoky oil fumes. Now it has a perfect patina from years of use.
It’s taken me a while to get the hang of stir fries, and I’m still figuring it out. I know, you chop stuff and cook it with some sauce. But figuring out that exact proportion of soy sauce to corn startch to fish sauce to sesame oil to hoisin to rice wine etc., combined with the 80 other things you need, is tough. Tonight I actually only used a recipe for reference, and was quite pleased with the results. Josh thought it needed Sirracha, but he says that about a lot of things.
Miscellaneous Stir Fry
I’ll keep this generic, as there are many ways you could vary the formula.
About a pound of meat – chicken, pork, beef, shrimp, etc. cut into 1″ or smaller cubes
1 egg white
1 tsp cornstartch
1 tsp soy sauce
Various vegetables – mushrooms, carrots, peppers, ginger, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, celery, etc.
One small onion
bunch of garlic
1 tbl cornstartch
1 tbl soy sauce
1/4 – 1/2 cup water or chicken broth
1 tbl Hoisin
pinch of chili flakes, if desired
Whisk together egg white, tsp. cornstartch and tsp. soy sauce. Maybe add a bit of oyster sauce too. Add meat and let marinate while prepping everything else.
Chop veggies, onion, and garlic and place in prep bowls. I usually sort by how long they take to cook – carrots and mushrooms don’t go in at the same time.
In another small bowl, whisk together 1 tbl. cornstartch, 1 tbl. water and 1 tbl. soy sauce.
Make sure meat, veggies, sauce, hoisin, and broth are ready and placed near the wok.
Heat wok on high heat. Pour in about 1 tbl vegetable oil and heat until smoking.
Add meat. When cooked through, remove from wok.
Add more oil if needed. Add veggies, starting with onion and garlic, then harder veggies, then soft. Stir fairly constantly.
Add meat back to wok with veggies. Add hoisin and stir. Add broth and stir. Add pinch of chili flakes. Finally, pour in cornstarch mixture.
Let simmer for several minutes.
Serve over rice.
Of course, after you have eaten your yummy stir-fry, and your belly is full of expanding rice, then you must clean the wok. Immediately. Which means hot water, and a soft sponge, and (Maureen, avert your eyes) NO SOAP. Ever. Never ever. If it has a good seasoning, it will be completely non-stick anyway, so everything just wipes off with a sponge. No harsh scrubbies, either. Dry it immediately, then put it on the burner again over high heat and pour in a bit of oil. Use a paper towel (watch your fingertips) to make sure the wok gets completely coated. Let it smoke for a while. Last night, I discovered the method of turning the wok upside down over the burner, so the flame can burn directly onto the inside surface. Needless to say, that part wouldn’t work with an electric stove. When the oil is baked on or all smoked off, let the wok cool down. Now it’s ready for the next meal!
(Which will be soon, because really I was motivated to make a stir-fry because I found an awesome-sounding ginger fried rice recipe, so I had to make something that would leave us some leftover rice. But then we ate most of the rice, so I had to steam more rice just to put straight into the fridge to wait for next week’s meal. I’ll tell you how it turns out.)