Wok Star

by zydecopaws on November 19, 2010

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I finally got around to seasoning the wok I purchased while on vacation in the Bay Area last month. The wok in question was an authentic handmade cast iron 2-handled one that is quite possibly the thinnest piece of cast iron I’ve ever seen. It was purchased at The Wok Shop in San Francisco’s Chinatown, and if there was ever any doubt about what this place was all about, this picture ought to clear that up.

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This store had everything imaginable that you would ever want to use with a wok, and, as you can see, a pretty large selection of handmade woks imported from China. For an extremely reasonable price, I walked (wokked?) out of the store with the package deal that included a 14″ wok, lid, cleaning tool, Chuan (spatula), fire ring, and a nice backscratcher with their name on it. The backscratcher was thrown in for free; the rest of the loot I escaped with for under $35. It’s probably a good thing we were on foot and it was still early, otherwise I might have spent a lot more time (and money) in the store…

At any rate, it was time to break in the wok properly. Once the seasoning process was done (in the oven, and I managed to get it done without setting off the smoke alarm) I fired up Bubba Ho-Keg and used the diffuser ring to hold the wok in place. Unlike the heavy Lodge cast iron wok, the handles on this one don’t quite reach to the sides, and the pan itself isn’t sturdy enough to dangle from the handles while cooking even if it was.

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On the menu was Spicy Chicken and Green Beans, a concoction I mixed up after ignoring several recipes I found online. My wife asked me if I remembered what I put in it; generally this is a sign that the dish will be requested again in the future. So here is the recipe for you to ignore too.

Spicy Chicken and Green Bean Stir Fry

  • 3 chicken breasts
  • 1 pound fresh string beans
  • 1/2 medium sweet white onion
  • 1 tbs. minced garlic
  • 1 tbs. minced fresh ginger
  • 2 tbs. soy sauce
  • 1 tbs. Hoisin sauce
  • 1 tbs. sweet chili sauce
  • 1 tbs. hot chili sauce (Sriracha)
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tbs. corn starch
  • 3 tbs. cold water
  • 2 tbs. sesame oil
  • 1 tsp. sesame seeds

Slice the chicken breasts into thin strips, and mix in a bowl with the garlic, ginger, soy sauce, Hoisin sauce, sweet chili sauce, hot chili sauce, and 1 1/2 tbs. of the corn starch. Set aside and let ingredients combine for at least 10-15 minutes.

Slice onion into thin strips and set aside.

Heat wok directly over hot coals. Hotter is better; the idea behind stir fry is to cook food quickly at very high temperatures. Add sesame oil, then add chicken mixture and stir constantly until chicken is browned thoroughly. Be careful to not overcook the chicken, as it will dry out quickly.

Push the chicken off to the edges of the wok and make a depression in the bottom of the wok. Add the onions to the pan and stir well for about a minute. Add the green beans to the mixture and stir well. Pour in the chicken broth and let cook for about 2-3 minutes or until the green beans are heated all the way through. Mix the cornstarch in the water, add to the mix and stir well. Let cook for about another minute, then remove.

Sprinkle sesame seeds over the top and serve. Goes well with brown or white rice and serves 4.

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Well, it serves four, but don’t expect there to be any leftovers. The only complaint I heard last night was that there wasn’t more of it.

I guess that makes me a Wok Star…

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