In a recent recipes I posted I talked about ‘authenticity’ in cooking. I think there was a general concensus in the comments that followed that it’s also good to push recipes a little and try out the odd extra ingredient here or different combination there.
So, what about the equipment used? Well, a little while back, I posted a comment on a nicely seasoned wok in a post by Conor Boffin. Geek! I hear you shout, and you’d be right, but this is a good example of where authenticity works best.
Like the Moroccan Tagine, or the Paella pan, some things just work best because they’re designed for the purpose.
I’ve had a number of woks over the years, mainly cheap ones it must be said, but all had a non-stick coating on, and all inevitably failed in some way. Either the non-stick coating ‘stuck’ (Ken Hom, you really let me down here), or the pan simply couldn’t get hot enough to cook the ‘Chinese way’.
And so finally, spurred on by Conor’s aforementioned photo, took the time to go out to the Chinese supermarket in the City and invest in a proper carbon steel one.
I say ‘invest’ but it was a fraction of the price of my current one. I got a round bottomed version as I have a dedicated burner on my hob, but a flat bottomed one is needed otherwise, or for ceramic hobs apparently.
Once home, I set about seasoning it based on a number of internet sources and Youtube videos. The process effectively renders the wok non-stick and stops it rusting and was far simpler than I thought:
Wash the the pan gently with a foam pad and washing up liquid to thoroughly remove the manufacturer’s protective oil coating. On the biggest hob you have, heat the wok on high heat until it starts to discolour and smoke fiercely. Don’t lose your nerve! Turn it round to heat evenly, it’ll turn golden brown and blue.
Turn the heat down half and carefully wipe the inside of the wok with some groundnut oil using tongues and a folded up wad of kitchen paper. Heat until smoking again and wipe off the oil – the paper towel should be brown/black. Repeat the wiping and heating until it stops colouring the paper towel.
Now, this never happened for me, the paper was just “less brown”. Maybe it was simply burning in the heat, who knows, but I repeated the last steps about ten times to be sure. It turns out that was enough (and probably overkill to be honest).
Armed with my new wok and oozing authenticity, I set about making a stir fried dish for dinner…
I’d defrosted some Char Siu pork fillet from the freezer, uncooked and still marinating nicely. I recommend this actually, I used the same recipe as I’d written about before, but it ultimately had far more flavour.
Char Siu pork stir fry with fried rice:
- 1 Char Siu pork fillet – recipe here
- Groundnut oil
- 2 tbsp Soy sauce
- 1 tbsp rice wine
- Mushrooms (of your choice) sliced.
- 1 medium onion, finely sliced,
- 1 thumb sized piece of ginger, grated or chopped finely
- 2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
- 2 spring onions, one finely sliced, one less so for serving
- 1 pak choi cleaned and separated.
- 150g grams long grain rice, cooked and cooled
- 1 egg
- Sesame oil to serve
Drain the Char Siu pork from the marinade (and reserve it). In a hot oven(200°C/400°F), roast the pork until just done, it should take 20 mins or so. Use a thermometer so as not to overcook it.
Slice and allow to rest a little. Heat the wok with 3 tbsp groundnut oil until smoking. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and stir fry for a few seconds. Add the mushroom for a minute more.
Tip in the sliced pork and any resting juices. Keep the heat high. and stir to colour. Add 1tbsp soy sauce, rice wine, and some of the reserved marinade and stir well. Lastly, add the pak choi and finely sliced spring onion. Stir well to coat.
Set aside in a bowl and keep warm
Wipe the wok clean with a paper towel (wow – non-stick!), reheat and add a little more oil. Get it hot again. Fry the rice for a minute on high heat then make a gap in the middle and crack an egg into it. Stir rapidly to scramble and mix into the rice. Add a tbsp soy sauce and stir fry for a couple more minutes, until dried and evenly coloured. Season with a few drops sesame oil to taste.
Serve the dish up with some jauntily sliced fresh spring onion on top.
I’m a big fan of cast iron pans and i have a huge and quite heavy skillet. I can cook a 24 egg tortilla in it and just about flip it with no sticking whatsoeverI I’ve also got a seasoned wok and a couple of griddle pans. Once you get into the habit of seasoning, it just becomes second nature and they are so nice to cook with 😉
Me too, in fact that’s why I’m not sure why it took me so long to get one of these! Trouble is, more and more of my cooking bits and pieces have to stay out the dishwasher these days!
I have one of these woks too! (and a post on it) I love it and its so smooth to cook on. Once its seasoned properly the maintenance is really quick and easy.
Hi Sofia, thanks, I’ll have a look. Must admit, I found it so much better, even on the first use!
I love my carbon steel wok. I cook with it at least once a week, and seasoning makes all the difference. Nice post.
Thank you! It’s such a flexible piece of kit isn’t it? Feels like I’m finally doing things ‘properly’ now 😉
My type of a great & well flavoured wok dinner! yummmmm!
Many thanks Sophie 🙂
Delicious looking meal with your new wok.
Thanks Karen, I really should have had gotten one a long time ago. No sure what took me so long…