Wacky Wok

by yearoffood

Szechwan Shrimp & Must Have Black Bean Crab from Wok Fast by Hugh Carpenter

Still Searching for Wok Hay but did find Wok Fire!!!!!
I went on a shopping spree at my closest Asian Market – prowling the isles, reading labels and asking for help locating special soy sauce, chili bean sauce, dark sesame oil, fermented bean curd, etc.  I  actually had to clean out my kitchen cabinets just to have room to put everything away when I got  back home.  At least ingredient wise I should be ready for any recipe.

O.K.  I’m not the master wok chef yet but I have learned a few things such as wok sizzle is great but wok flames shooting up around the pan are not really desirable.   I was so excited to hear the sizzle that Grace Young, in her book Stir Frying to the Sky’s Edge, says is imperative to hear when stir frying that I got a little carried away cooking last night’s dinner.   I tried to flip the veggies around swiftly, twirling the wok as I worked, but managed to flip oil out onto the burner and suddenly there were flames shooting up all around the pan.  Well – the wok can take it and I figured that the oil needed to burn away for the flames to stop so I just kept on cooking but flipping a little less vigorously and cautiously watching the flames .  I’ve read that master chefs in China will sometimes have 2 foot tall flames shooting up around the sides of their huge woks as they cook – I will try not to go there again in my kitchen.    That was my most exciting lesson – be careful with hot oil.  The Szechwan Shrimp was delicious but the sauce was watery.  The Black Bean Crab wasn’t watery but definitely had too much sauce – it was pretty fantastic though.   Hugh Carpenter says to always mix up a small bowl of cornstarch and water to have ready to add to any stir fry look too watery.  Hugh’s book starts with all the basics – very well done – and then lists many sauces that can all be interchanged in any of the recipes that follow.  He states that most of the recipes yield between ½ and ¾ cup and that should be enough for one recipe.  The Thai Black Bean Sauce that I used last night made double that amount and I added all of it to the dish.  It did taste wonderful but definitely would have been better with less sauce – so no more than ¾ cup to a recipe.  Might take a wok break tonight but I did just see a picture of Scallops and Bok Choy that looks amazing.