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Of Love And Woks

This is the wok R’s sister’s boyfriend got us for Christmas.


It is awesome.

In using it–and in discovering that I like using it–I have noticed several things about my relationship with cooking.  Formerly I associated my dislike of cooking things other than soup or stew (cooking not baking–I like baking things) with the need for presentation. If it had to look pretty, I had no interest in making it, which probably had no small amount to do with my being related to people who make things look pretty as a matter of course. And it is still true that I have no plans on making farewell cakes look like the Going To the Sun Highway, or in making someone’s birthday cupcakes look like the Seven Deadly Sins. I will fail. Comparisons will be made. People will snicker.

But the wok makes clear that it’s not just presentation that’s an issue for me. It’s cleanup time. The fewer dishes I need to prepare a dish, the happier I am. Preparing things for the wok is like preparing soup–sooner or later it’s all going to get thrown in there anyway. Maybe I’ll use a cutting board or a casserole dish to marinate the meat, but neither of these things involve food getting crusty and stuck to the dishes.  A quick rinse, a pop in the dishwasher, done. All the real cooking gets done in the wok itself, which is blessedly lightweight and easy to handle. (I hate heavy dishes. Big ceramic plates, for example–they’re a pain to hold under the water for heavy scrubbing, and I’m always worried when putting big stacks of them away that I’m going to hurt my wrists. Or drop the plates. Or both.)  My happiest moments with the wok are when everything is in there and all I have to do is stir–and as I stir, I am met at every stroke with proof that the cleanup is not going to dominate the majority of my evening. The stuff parts smoothly away from the edge of the wok, ensuring that I will not be stuck scrubbing and scrubbing with a hot sticky face and homework waiting and the beginnings of a headache winding up with each chisel at crusty cooked-on food.  All will go smoothly. The wok is very zen.

What’s in the wok in this picture incidentally is Bombay Style Pork. This seems rather odd to me as I was under the impression that the majority of people in Bombay would either be eschewing pork in particular or vegetables altogether. But then, I’ve never been there, so what would I know.  It goes:


2 tbs soy scause

2 tbs sherry

250g pork chops (yes, well, it’s a German recipe…I use 5-7 thin-cut chops; it’s somewhere around that weight)

1 tbs cooking oil (we received Williams + Sonoma sesame oil with the wok but mix it with canola to preserve it)

1-2 tbs curry powder

150g carrots

1 small onion

1/8 liter beef stock

1 teaspoon starch

2 tps single cream (or milk, or water…)

1 sliced banana

75g frozen peas

salt to taste

Slice the meat into 5mm cubes. Peel carrots and onion and dice. Stir soy sauce and sherry together and marinate the meat in the mixture for one hour. Stir-fry the meat and vegetables in hot oil. Sprinkle curr over it. Add the beef stock and let it simmer for approx. 10 minutes. Stir the starch and cream together and add to the meat and vegetables to thicken the sauce. Add the banana slices and peas and allow all ingredients to simmer for 5 minutes. Season to taste and serve.

Also there are oatmeal cookies in that picture. I should probably make some more before the oncoming blizzard.

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