Sunday, June 19, 2016

My Wok Jumped the Shark

So I bought this carbon steel, hand-hammered, flat-bottomed, wooden-handled, 14" wok from WOKSHOP, and seasoned it according to these instructions.

I bought Grace Young's legendary book, "The Breath of a Wok", and read the Chowhound "Cookbook of the Month" threads about that book and about Ms. Young's other work, "Stir-Frying To The Sky's Edge". And I was inspired by Jennifer Bain's article on wokking in the Toronto Star (including three great freebie recipes from Grace Young).

And I had some fun stir-frying onions, broccoli rabe, and egg, and heating up leftover foods in ways that gave them new life.

But then I tried to do a very innocent thing that snapped me out of my blossoming wokomania. I sliced two carrots and attempted to stir fry them. Seven minutes later, they were still raw (I have a decently powerful gas stove, and left it on high the whole time).

"You've got to parboil them first," my friend Paul explained.

Really? This is when my wok jumped the shark. It's very clear that on home kitchen gas stoves, woks are for warming, wilting, and reheating, not for serious cooking (unless you want to stand there like an idiot stir frying carrot slices for a quarter hour).

Update: Melanie Wong notes, via Facebook, that "Even in Chinese restaurant kitchens with more BTUs, things like green beans, eggplant, and carrots that require longer cooking are oil-blanched first, and then stir-fried with seasonings." Here's more info on oil blanching.

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