Local Heart, Global Soul

November 8, 2017

Step-By-Step: Wok Are Your Tips And Tricks?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In yesterdays post I covered our discovery of “Eazie” in Scheveningen, one of a chain of restaurants in the Netherlands.

The principle behind the cuisine is that diners select fresh ingredients which are then wok fried in front of them, the prepared food can be eaten in the restaurant or taken away.  As usual I asked permission to take photographs of the restaurant interior and once given, added that I would love to also take photographs of the cooking process.

Permission was given for that too and soon I was clicking away. During this observation I also picked up some wok cooking tips and tricks. The first tip for doing this at home is probably the most basic: all meat, fish and veggies have to be cut in sizes suitable to them all cooking evenly together.

The thickness of all the carrot pieces, for instance should be as uniform as possible. I have the luxury of having an electric slicer, and during the summer tried an experiment that turned out to be a huge success. I got Himself to bring home a huge bag of veggies from the Haagse markt where  the prices are less than half the price of the supermarkets.

That said, you will need to do a fraction more work with your bargains: (a) often you have to check veggies for bad spots or the odd bit that’s well on the way to going rotten,(b) veggies are often waaay cheaper because they are misshapen, so be prepared to spend more time peeling around knobbly bits of carrots etc. (c) veggies are usually more on the “ripe” end of the scale than the “under ripe” end of the scale, so be careful buying in bulk if you can’t use it all before it’s past being edible.

Since sitting is something I do rather well these days, I sat on a stool and washed, peeled, topped, tailed, stripped off nasty outside bits of carrots, onions, beans, chinese cabbage, cauliflower, capsicum peppers, broccoli, and other seasonal veggies so that I had a massive pile of whole, but prepared veggies for slicing. Then the slicer came out and on a thin setting I started slicing it all.

Soon I was surrounded by mounds of white, green, orange and yellow veggies, which I then mixed up together. The last step was easy: fill up freezer bags and stack them all in the freezer. Whenever we fancied a stir-fry at a later date, all we had to do was grab a bag of pre-cut veggies from the freezer and head towards the stove. The thinness of the veggies means they separate, thaw and cook easily. The biggest surprise is that the onions and Chinese cabbage stayed white and mostly kept their shape, I had imagined I’d get a soggy brown mess once it thawed so this was a wonderful surprise.

Here at “Eazie” the veggies are fresh of course and not frozen; and have already been cut to appropriate thicknesses and even sizes.  An excellent tip I learned from these professionals is that they put your meat/fish/veg into a sieve and plunge it into a pot of boiling water to blanch them for a couple of minutes, then drain/ shake the water off and transfer everything to the waiting hot wok.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This not only partly cooks harder things like carrots, broccoli and cauli stems and the like, it also keeps the colours bright so the end result doesn’t look like a dull coloured mess. (I’ve been there with my stir-frys, I’ll bet you have on occasion too).

Then the hardest bit of all: a serious heat and a decent wok pan. Stupidly when I bought my new stove I was delighted that it had a special Wok burner that goes far harder than the other gas flames.

Less intelligent of me was that on this model stove this element is near the wall and not in the middle row (I have six burners), so I can only use a very small pan to use it with. I have been making do with a regular fry pan but think that I should think about getting a proper wok for the job because then the heat is in the right place at the right time.

The problem with a fry pan is that you have a lot of heat but the flames get too big around the pan so I keep turning it down, and needing longer cooking time and my stir-frys have been a little more wilted than I’d like.

I’ve heard raves about Ken Hom stainless woks so maybe I need to have a word with Santa about that one. The next thing I learn from watching the Eazie chefs is that they keep the heat high and the pan moving more than I imagined they would. They use the long handled spoon/ ladle thingy to work the sauce around the meat and veggies as the meal cooks. I am going to try this technique, especially the quick blanching first and see if I can improve not only the appearance but also the taste of my wok meals from now on.(Please note that my photos are a compilation of several different meals since I was tired and not all of my pics were sharp).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

https://www.thuisbezorgd.nl/eazie-scheveningen
Eazie, Restaurant Scheveningen / The Hague/ The Netherlands

2 Comments »

  1. WOW!! This is an amazing tutorial on proper wok cooking and much needed by this poor excuse for a cook. Long, long ago and in another life it now seems – I was married to a chef. He was an amazing chef, but as a husband and father – not so much. The point of this being, I did not have to cook and never quite mastered beyond the simple boring fare (as my poor grown children would now attest to). I do believe that Santa’s ears will be abuzz with requests for a Ken Hom wok and perhaps that electric slicer too, as I’ve been so very good this year! Thank-you for this very interesting and informative post. Your photos are wonderful teaching tools too!

    Comment by Ellen — November 8, 2017 @ 1:29 pm | Reply

    • Ellen,
      One of the reasons I started my blog (or at least, made it “Public”) was that I hope that other people would find the things I learned as interesting as I did.
      I’m someone who learns by seeing and doing, so lists in instruction books are not really my thing. For me these are also handy reference points to refer to so that I have everything in one place. That said, with this restaurant having home delivery I am getting lazy and letting them do it for me 🙂

      That may change after I get my wok… it will be interesting to see if I can match this, I have my doubts since they do this daily and are experts, …but I can dream). One of the best phrases ever uttered: “a picture tells a thousand words’ is true, photographs of a technique can help so much more than written instructions. I am delighted that these help you too.

      DO look for second hand slicers, because they are far, far cheaper: often people get them for themselves or as gifts, use them once or twice and then sell them after they have sat in a cupboard for a while. These machines can be just like new for a fraction of the cost. I got mine new, only because there were none available second-hand for some months when I wanted one and I got impatient. Two friends picked up excellent second hand ones for half the price a little more than a month later. (sigh) Timing and patience CAN pay off. I happened to have neither.

      Comment by kiwidutch — November 9, 2017 @ 9:57 pm | Reply


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