Wok Like A Man

I know, I know. Terrible title. But I couldn’t help it – DB has gotten his wok and has embarked upon a stir-frying journey.

As you may have gathered from reading the blog, the DreadBrewer doesn’t do things by half measures. So when he started reading Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge and talking about buying a wok, I knew that there was no escaping the inevitable. We would be tackling wok cooking, whether I liked it or not.

Sure enough, we are now the proud owners of a 14″ carbon steel flat-bottomed wok. And of course, DB being DB, we had to get our wok from The Wok Shop in California because that’s where Grace Young (the author of previously mentioned stir-fry Bible) said to get it. We also had to buy our own edition of Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge and make copies of a large portion of the library’s copy of The Breath of a Wok (also by Grace Young).

Receiving our wok naturally prompted forays out to the Asian markets in the area – we’ve now checked out 2 of the 3, with plans to visit the last one this week. Given the fact that we neither speak nor read Chinese, we’ve encountered a bit of difficulty finding the specific ingredients we want. Thankfully, Amazon has come through with a couple of items that even the staff at the market couldn’t find for us. (Side story: When we took BIT to the first Asian market, these two Asian ladies asked me how old she was. When I said “5 days,” they started talking furiously amongst themselves. I said it was because they were commenting on how big and adorable she is. My friend Cris said it was because they were appalled we had her out at the store at 5 days old.)

So this weekend, the DreadBrewer undertook to season his wok and then to cook us our first authentic Chinese stir-fry.

Wok 1

Our freshly seasoned wok – before seasoning, it was a bright and shiny silver

Wok 2

Stir-frying chives – notice the appropriate wok spatula thing

Seasoning it involved rubbing it with oil, then baking it for a bit, and then stir-frying chives to make sure there was no residual metallic taste. It worked great but stunk up the house a bit.

For our first attempt at stir-frying, I picked a reasonably simple looking “Chicken with Shallots” – and it was so good! We were so tired by the time we got around to making it that we didn’t bother to make any accompaniments like rice or vegetables. But it was delicious enough that neither of us cared and just shoveled in copious amounts of chicken as enthusiastically as we could in our haze of exhaustion.

Last night we tried “Shrimp with Garlic Sauce” – again, this turned out really well. My main complaint was that we used some leftover frozen shrimp we had on hand and the recipe really needed fresh shrimp.

Wok 3And I made sides! (I was smart and did this before the girls went to bed and I collapsed into a chair, unable to move.) We had some white rice and a Chinese cucumber salad. The salad was excellent (recipe here) and gave me the opportunity to use one of DB’s experimental cultivars from this year’s garden: Suyo Cucumbers. Here’s the Littlest Brewster proudly displaying a Suyo that she helped harvest:

Suyo Cukes

And that’s not even the knobbiest, curliest one we picked yesterday!

So while the wok is very large and takes up a lot of space (we’re currently storing it on top of the dryer when not in use), it has so far been a successful investment. And it’s been a lot of fun making stir-fried meals together. I think this week we’re going to tackle “Pork with Bean Sprouts” and maybe another shrimp dish if I can make it to Whole Foods.

Granted, the tentative success of our wok venture has now prompted the DreadBrewer to start fantasizing about planting an all Chinese garden next year. I see vast quantities of bok choy in my future.

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