As 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.
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.
- Oil for stir frying
- 1 tablespoon garlic, shredded
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 1 eggplant, peeled, cubed and salted
- 1 bell pepper, sliced (I used a red one)
- 2 zucchinis, peeled and sliced very thinly
- 28 oz can of whole peeled tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons of fresh oregano, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons of fresh mint, roughly chopped
- Heat the wok to the smoking point and swirl in oil
- Add Bowl A and stir fry until fragrant, about 10 seconds.
- Add Bowl B and stir fry until the eggplant is cooked though. Empty the wok into a bowl and set aside.
- Add Bowl C and stir fry for a minute.
- 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.
- Return the onion and eggplant mixture to the wok and add Bowl E. Stir fry until everything is cooked through.
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!