Monthly Archives: May 2017

Zen and the art of wok cooking

By George DeLuca
May 1, 2017

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Fujianese-Style Stir-Fried Fish

New Year’s Day came and went and by January 3 my resolution to modify and upgrade my eating habits was by the cupboards.

Then one day, I’m reading a novel about two lovers named Anabel and Tom who decide to buy a wok – as if wok cooking offers a Zen-like experience that will enhance your life and existence on planet Earth – and I have an epiphany.

According to http://www.zen-buddhism.net, “Zen is the experience of living from moment to moment, in the here and now.” After a brief contemplation of what wok cooking brings to the table, including the combined efficacy of meditation and sustenance, I decide to give it a try.

Within fifteen minutes my brand-new triple coated, non-stick, flat bottomed 12” Calpholon wok with glass cover is en route, along with a roadmap to culinary delight called “Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge” by Grace Young.

Thanks to Google and Amazon the new kit arrives within four days, and suddenly my path to enlightenment includes achieving cooking nirvana.

So, my sparkling new wok is unpacked and prepped with a little warm water and dish detergent. There it is … on the stove and ready to go … and so … empty.

During a quick browse of the cookbook, I examine some basic stir-fry recipes along with the guidelines to preparation, and thus I enter the world of wok cooking.

Let’s see, there’s “Spicy Orange Chicken,” “Stir-Fried Ginger Tomato Beef,” “Stir-Fried Salmon with Wine Sauce” … hmm … ok, let’s start with those!

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One shopping spree goes a long way

Upon further review, I find that many ingredients are used repetitively and cover a wide-spectrum of delectable desires and gluten-free gastronomies.

Exotic items like peanut oil, ginger, rice wine, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil and black bean garlic sauce go on the shopping list along with various essentials like vegetables, rice and pasta. Next stop, Market Basket.

What’s that? Market Basket doesn’t have everything on the list? The good news is that the Market Basket on Broadway Street in Lowell has an aisle devoted to Asian cooking supplies and ingredients.

As for items Market Basket doesn’t carry; no need to scour websites of the orient. There’s a Southeast Asian food store on Merrimack Street called Ocean Garden Market. As you walk through the entrance, you feel like you’ve been transported through space and time to a rustic food store in Phenom Penh, Cambodia.

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Fujianese Cod on a bed of angel-hair pasta

Ok, so now I’m ready to test drive my new wok with the glass cover and have all the basic ingredients for “Fujianese Cod with green beans, green pepper and red onion.” Grace Young … lead me to the promise land!

Within the first week, I cooked the four previously mentioned dishes and discovered that wok cooking is healthy, tasty, fast and easy.

You also save money on food, supplies and condiments, all of which can be reused, mixed and matched to serve your preferred textures and tastes. Soon you will be experimenting with recipe ideas of your own.

One potential drawback is that the dishes and mixing bowls tend to pile up during preparation. But if you move quickly, you may find that the work is manageable, fun and maybe even relaxing.

Here are some additional tips: if it comes in a glass bottle – put it in the fridge after opening. Oh, and in case you’re wondering – cooking wine is not for drinking.

As for the “fast and easy” part – once accustomed to stir-fry technique you may become an aficionado of wok cooking as you season your trail of life with a little Zen.