Wok Wednesday – Make your own adventure

Cajun Stri FryI was feeling a bit under the weather Wednesday so I'm a day late. Sorry 'bout that. This time around we got to choose our own recipe to make and I decided to take another pass at my Cajun stir fry.

Possibly the most interesting part of the dish is the roux-based sauce. I've having some trouble getting the consistency right. There's got to be a middle ground between wallpaper paste and watery. And the dish feels a bit incomplete. It's basically just the trinity with a protein.

I'll keep plugging away at it. It tastes good at least.

Wok Wednesdays – Chinese American Cabbage with Bacon

Bacon Cabbage Stir FryWok Wednesday, for me this week, fell on a Friday. What can I say? The alligators were a bit deep this week. Anyway, as always, the recipes are drawn from Grace Young's Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge and this time around, we got to choose our own recipe.

As I was flipping though the book I noticed a recipe that really spoke to me on several levels. It's from a lady who grew up in New Mexico during the '40's without much access to Chinese produce. So her family was forced to do the best they could with what they had available. And I can certainly relate to that.

The stir fry also reminded me of some of my early efforts, before I really had a clue. So, without further ado, I made Chinese-American Cabbage with Bacon. I substituted some marinaded tempeh for the bacon and I also made some parsnip chips. Those were kind of my whimsical attempt at looking like bacon. And they turned out better than I thought so I'm happy.

And as Emeril used to remind us, "Pork fat rules"! So what's not to like?

Wok Wednesday – Wok-Seared Vegetables

veg_for_webWok Wednesday has returned and with a vegan dish to boot! I joked around with the group that, just to maintain to karmic balance of the universe, I should add some meat to this. Fortunately, it didn't come to that and the Universe is still intact and I've made a recipe without having to modify it! As always, the recipe is from Grace Young's Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge.

Spring is upon us and the use of asparagus here reflects that. A lot of fresh veg with a simple sauce that allows the flavor of the produce to shine forth. Giving the asparagus a quick blanch keeps it that bright green color and makes sure its crisp without being over-cooked.

Link roundup for 3 May 2013

Chain linksSome things I've found interesting around the web.

Duck awarma with smoked hummus

I'm not as interested in the recipe itself as the directions for using a wok as an impromptu smoker. Something to keep in mind if you don't have a smoker box.

How to Make: Stir-fries

This is a pretty generic 'how to stir fry' article but there are some decent bits of information. Just be aware things aren't quite as black and white as it says. Although not poking and prodding at your protein is pretty much always good advice.

10 Ways to Be a More Creative Cook

Just some fun ideas to keep from being bored in the kitchen.

Wok Wednesdays – Velvet Chicken with Asparagus

asparagus_stir_fryIt's back! After taking a Spring Break, Wok Wednesday has returned with a fresh new take on spring flavors. As always, the recipe comes from Grace Young's Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge and equally as always, I've changed the recipe around. Sorry Grace.

I tried a new seitan recipe for this one and the flavor was really great but the texture wasn't the best. I have some idea for fixing that though. I didn't velvet the seitan as it really doesn't add anything and I also added the seitan first as it needed to cook longer than chicken would. And I used a mix of white and green asparagus for visual impact.

This is a delicate dish that showcases one of my favorite early spring flavors, fresh asparagus. Probably better suited to a side dish than a main, it's quite tasty and I'll keep it in mind for future springs.

Don't forget to see what other group members have come up with!

Link roundup for 26 April 2013

Chain linksSome things I've found interesting around the web

Noodles in France - New Study Released

It seems Asian food and wok cooking in particular are becoming more popular in France. No word on whether snails are involved though.

Chinese food in India is the most popular foreign cuisine

I found this interesting because I came to Chinese cooking basically though Indian cuisine. A lot of Indian cookbooks contain 'Indianified' versions of Chinese dishes and I wanted to see what the original versions looked like.

Link roundup for 19 April 2013

Chain linksSome of the things I've found interesting around the Web this week.

Imported rice may contain dangerously high lead levels

I don't eat a great deal of rice but when I do, it's Indian basmati rice so this is of great concern to me. But about all I can see to do is to buy high quality rice from a supplier you trust.

Turkey Fryer BTU's and Wok

An interesting question about how much heat do you really need for a good stir fry. I'm a little surprised that setting a wok directly onto hot charcoal didn't produce enough heat.

Swords into ploughshares (and vice versa)

A fun article from Fuchsia Dunlop about a company that's literally producing useful kitchen products from military debris. With recent events, it's very timely. Anybody know where I could find one of the knives?

Greek Stir fry and the Uberburner makes it’s 2013 debut

The Uberburner setting in my drivewayAs we all know, stir frying is about applying heat to food, a lot of heat. A home stove top is really kind of marginal and even a commercial stove isn't that great. For comparison, an average home burner produces 10-12,000 BTU and a commercial one comes in at about 25,000. So when I went shopping for a burner to use outside, I wanted all the heat I could find. (Insert Tim the Toolman laugh here)

I found a burner that's rated at 100,000 BTU. I obviously can't verify that but I can say the burner can heat oil to it's flash point in a matter of seconds. The first time I used it, I swirled the oil in, turned around to get the aromatics and turned back around to find three feet of flames shooting from the wok. Time to turn the heat down!

Cooking outside can be a lot of fun but it does require you to step up your organization. Stir fries happen fast enough that you really don't have time to run back in the house and grab something you've forgotten. I have a little side table I stack my bowls on.My mise en place

I wanted to come up with a Greek stir fry because we have an active Greek community around here and I have a number of friends who are Greek

So I started thinking about what flavors I associate with Greek food. Eggplant, tomatoes and zucchini, certainly. For spices, in honor of Greece's location between Europe and the Middle East, I'm going with oregano and mint.

I did salt and drain the eggplant. For strongly flavored dishes you don't need to do that but I wanted to avoid any hint of the bitterness you can sometimes get with eggplant.

Greek stir fry

Greek stir fry
Recipe type: Stir fry
Cuisine: Greek
  • Oil for stir frying
Bowl A
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, shredded
Bowl B
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 eggplant, peeled, cubed and salted
Bowl C
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced (I used a red one)
  • 2 zucchinis, peeled and sliced very thinly
Bowl D
  • 28 oz can of whole peeled tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh oregano, roughly chopped
Bowl E
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh mint, roughly chopped
  1. Heat the wok to the smoking point and swirl in oil
  2. Add Bowl A and stir fry until fragrant, about 10 seconds.
  3. Add Bowl B and stir fry until the eggplant is cooked though. Empty the wok into a bowl and set aside.
  4. Add Bowl C and stir fry for a minute.
  5. Add Bowl D, break up the tomatoes with the back of your spatula and stir fry until the tomatoes have released their juices and softened.
  6. Return the onion and eggplant mixture to the wok and add Bowl E. Stir fry until everything is cooked through.
To salt the eggplant, peel and cube it. Place in a colander and add salt, about a tablespoon. Let set for about 30 minutes, shaking occasionally.

So you can do Mediterranean in a wok and cooking outside is a very different experience from being in a kitchen. As the weather warms up, I'm looking forward to a lot more of it!

Link roundup for 5 April 2013

Chain links

Mediterranean Diet Could Improve Food Security And Lower Grocery Costs, Study Finds

I would have to wonder if it was the Mediterranean diet that lowered the costs or just learning how to cook?

Stir fry cooking made easy with a quality wok to hand

While it's nice to see an article about stir frying, there's a lot of misinformation in this one. I have never even come close to destroying a wok by overheating and I've gotten one of mine to glow before. And, no, no, no non-stick woks!

My Italian Wok

I love to see things about non-Chinese uses for a wok and this one is particularly well done.

Wok Wednesdays – Hakka Style Stir-Fried Cabbage and Egg

Stressed OutSome days you're the windshield, some days you're the bug. And recently, I've been the bug. Nothing major, just some really long days.

So, as you may have already guessed from the picture, I didn't make the dish this time around. There are ways to get close to the recipe while keeping it vegan but I've never used them at stir fry temperatures and, frankly, I don't have time to experiment right now.

So you can go here to see what others have come up with and hopefully life will let me take part in the next round. Wok on!

photo credit: greg westfall. via photopin cc