Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Wok Wednesdays: The Breath of a Wok | Jan Yueh's Beef with Onions and Peppers

 Mise en place.

Bowl 1: Flank steak, soy sauce, dry sherry, black pepper, cornstarch, vegetable oil
Bowl 2: Onions
Bowl 3: Bell peppers
Bowl 4: Soy sauce, dry sherry, sugar, cornstarch

What amazing flavor this stir-fry has, and without any enhancements such as ginger, garlic, scallions, or fish sauce, sesame oil, or chili paste - common ingredients in stir-fries - here we have just soy sauce, sherry and pepper.

This is why I love stir-frying. You take the freshest of ingredients, with minimal spices and/or condiments and give them a quick toss in a very hot wok, and you have an incredible tasting meal in mere minutes, which is healthy to boot! I don't understand why everyone hasn't jumped on the wok-wagon.

Pure deliciousness.

Wok Wednesdays is an online group of wok devotees (or should I say fanatics) who are currently cooking through Grace Young's The Breath of a Wok.

We have been asked not to post the recipes on our blogs. You will find this recipe on page 94. Why don't you grab the book and join in on the fun (for we've only just begun) and become a Wok Wednesdays member yourself. Non-bloggers are welcome too. Pay us a visit over on Facebook.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Wok Wednesdays: The Breath of a Wok | Liang Nian Xiu's Snow Peas, Tomatoes, and Chilies

As I mentioned in my last post, we have finished cooking our way through Grace Young's Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge, and so we begin a new odyssey with her book The Breath of a Wok, an IACP Cookbook Award winner.

Most people think of only stir-frying when they see or hear of woks; but there is so much more that can be done in this amazing vessel which we are soon going to discover - such as steaming, braising, boiling, poaching, deep-fat frying, pan-frying, and yes, even smoking in the wok, proving that the wok is quite the versatile pan to have in your kitchen arsenal.

Oh, and it makes great popcorn too!

 Mise en place.

Bowl 1: Bacon, ginger, garlic, chili
Bowl 2: Snow peas
Bowl 3: Tomato
Bowl 4: Salt, sugar

We started with a simple vegetable stir-fry of crisp snow peas, sweet tomatoes, and smoky bacon - what a wonderful fusion of flavors.

This makes a great side dish or even a light lunch served alongside some rice.

The recipe can be found on page 132 of The Breath of a Wok, which you may just want to pick up at your local bookstore for it is more than just a cookbook, it even has a whole chapter dedicated from finding the perfect wok to seasoning and caring for your treasured pan - a wok manual of sort and is filled with personal stories and gorgeous photos from Grace's travels during her research in wok cooking and culture, which sadly is becoming a lost art; but hopefully there will be a resurgence in authentic wok cooking thanks to Grace and her books, and the Wok Wednesdays group which is just shy (and by shy I mean 6) of 2000 members as of this posting.

We have been asked not to post the recipes on our blogs, so why don't you grab the book and join in on the fun and become a Wok Wednesday member yourself! Come check us out on Facebook.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Wok Wednesdays | Stir-Fried Beef and Broccoli | SFTTSE Finale!

WW wokking through Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge
by Grace Young

Wow. I can't believe it has been four-plus years that we began cooking through this incredible cookbook. We have had many a fine meal thanks to Grace Young and her recipe contributors.

And what better way to bring this journey to a close, then with the ever classic beef and broccoli.

Mise en place.

Bowl 1: Garlic, fermented black beans
Bowl 2: Flank steak, ginger, soy sauce, dry sherry, cornstarch, salt, pepper, sesame oil
Bowl 3: Onion
Bowl 4: Broccoli
Bowl 5: Chicken broth, oyster sauce, dark soy sauce, dry sherry

I am proud to say I have cooked all but three recipes in the book, including the supplemental recipes listed at the back, one of which should not be missed - Chinese Barbecued Pork - it is sooo good.

It's still my intention to post two of the three missed recipes; as for the third (Singapore-Style Stir-Fried Lobster) - I just can't bring myself to plunge a live lobster into boiling water or the alternative (Google it - it's not pretty).

Grace Young, I salute you! Without your books and this group, Andy & I would probably still be eating over-salted, oily, gloppy food that is passed on as Chinese food here in the Western hemisphere. Thank you for sharing your most delicious, authentic Chinese recipes with the rest of the world to enjoy; and Matt Lardie, thank you for starting Wok Wednesdays, which has become filled with fun and witty members that can put a smile on one's face even at the most dismal of times. 

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, this journey comes to an end, but fear not, we start anew with Grace's other masterpiece, Breath of a Wok. Here we will learn new techniques: steaming, braising, boiling, poaching, deep-fat frying (this does wonders for the patina), pan-frying, and even smoking! in our wok.

And so we embark on another exciting culinary adventure. I hope you continue following along or better yet, join us!

I have received permission to share with you this week's recipe. Wok on my friends!

Stir-Fried Beef and Broccoli
Serves 2 to 3 as a main dish with rice.

12 ounces lean flank steak
1 tablespoon minced ginger
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon Shao-Hsing rice wine or dry sherry
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons chicken broth
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 teaspoons dark soy sauce
12 ounces broccoli florets and stems, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon fermented black beans, rinsed and mashed (I like to add extra beans left whole as well)
3/4 cup thinly sliced onion

1. Cut the beef with the grain into 2-inch-wide strips. Cut each strip across the grain into 1/4-inch-thick slices. In a medium bowl combine the beef, ginger, soy sauce, 2 teaspoons of the rice wine, cornstarch, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. Stir in the sesame oil. In a small bowl combine the chicken broth, oyster sauce, dark soy sauce, and the remaining 1 tablespoon rice wine.

2. In a 1 1/2-quart saucepan bring 1 quart water to a boil over high h eat. Add the broccoli and  cook, stirring 1 minute or until the broccoli is bright green and the water almost returns to a boil. Drain in a colander, shaking out excess water.

3. Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or 12-inch skillet over high heat until a bead of water vaporizes within 1 to 2 seconds of contact. Swirl in 1 tablespoon of the peanut oil, add the garlic and black beans, then, using a metal spatula, stir-fry 10 seconds or until the aromatics are fragrant. Push the garlic mixture to the sides of the wok, carefully add the beef, and spread it evenly in one layer in the wok. Cook undisturbed 1 minute, letting the beef begin to sear. Then stir-fry 1 minute, or until the beef is lightly browned but not cooked through. Transfer the beef to a plate.

4. Swirl the remaining 1 tablespoon peanut oil into the wok, add the onions, and stir-fry about 30 seconds or until the onions are just translucent. Add the broccoli and stir-fry 15 seconds or until just combined with the onions. Return the beef with any juices that have accumulated to the wok. Swirl the oyster sauce mixture into the wok and stir-fry about 30 seconds or until the beef is just cooked through. (The sesame seed garnish was my personal touch - add a sprinkle if it suits you.)

Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge | Grace Young

If you want to join us, look us up on:

Facebook:  (for real time discussions)

Wok Wednesdays Blog: (mainly the recipe schedule)

And for all your wokking needs contact:

Tane or Randy at the Wok Shop, located in San Francisco. Tane has been selling woks for over 45 years! She and Randy will fit you with the perfect wok for your current situation (gas cooktop, electric, induction, etc. )

If you cannot visit the Wok Shop personally, give them a call! They also have a website to order online. I have personally purchased a few woks and other items from them; they are so very helpful!

The Wok Shop
718 Grand Avenue
Oakland, CA 94108
(415) 989-3797

This is one store you don't want to miss visiting if you have the opportunity! Here is a peak inside the store, and Tane's heartfelt story of how her wokking career began.