10 August 2010

Chicken with ginger

Ginger chicken

I'm pretty vocal about my love of outdoor cooking.  So people come talk to me about food.  Given a *massive* rearrangement at work, many of us have less to do than we usually do, so have more time to talk about stuff.  So I find myself talking to a colleague about outdoor wokking...

Your average stove burners and oven put together have about 15,000 to 20,000 BTUs of heat output.  If they're all operating.  At once.  A wok burner has the capacity to put out up to 75,000 BTUs of heat.  That's more than 3 times of the TOTAL heat output of your home kitchen capacity.  What does that mean?  It means you should measure your outdoor cooking capacity in pounds of thrust.  It means that when you're making a "stir-fry" in your kitchen, that the moment you add the meat and veggies to your pot of hot oil, the temperature drops, and instead of stir-frying that stuff, you're stir-steaming.  The only way you can truly keep your wok hot (and the way that good Chinese restaurants keep their woks hot) is by providing a ridiculously powerful heat source.  Those of us who want to do that at home need to purchase an outdoor wok burner.  Me, after getting recommendations from friends and the internets, I chose the Big Kahuna burner.  So I ordered one from Amazon, for the low, low price of $170 (including wok and tools).


Imagine my excitement.

Wok burner bits

After 15 minutes of assembly...  (and I must add, this burner is well put together, every joint is supported from two different sides) ... I have this:

Wok burner

Alright.  So the first recipe to go onto my new wok burner was Chicken with Ginger from Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook.  My colleague had pointed out that given the heat output of such a critter as a wok burner, you really need to get all the ingredients ready in advance...  Here we go:
1 lb boneless chicken thighs
¼ tsp salt
2 tsp light soy sauce
3-inch piece fresh ginger, unpeeled and sliced into small bits
1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
dried chili flakes
2⁄3 cup turkey stock
3 scallions, sliced
1 tsp sesame oil
3 tbsp peanut oil
Chop up the chicken into bite sized bits.  Mix with the salt and soy sauce.

Marinating chicken

Meanwhile, prepare everything else in small containers for once the crazy wok-burner heat starts.  You want to set yourself up like you're doing a cooking show, cause once you fire this thing up, you've got minutes from start to finish.  Everything has to be ready in advance.

Ginger chicken herbs

Now fire up the burner.

Wok burner

So this is where I made my main mistake. I was a teeny, tiny bit nervous about 75,000 BTUs of heat. I was cautious to start. Don't be cautious. Go to full two-thirds of full heat. You want to really work this.

Heat the peanut oil in your wok. Add the ginger when it gets hot.

Wokking garlic

With a wok this hot, ALL your neighbors will be able to smell that ginger. YUM!

Wokking garlic

As it starts to smell, add the chicken.

Wokking chicken

As always, I apologize for the photo of raw chicken. This is my best, yet, though...

Wokking chicken

I didn't catch a photo of the deliciousness of the darkened chicken, but it looks crazy good when cooked hot like this. Dark crusted brown, in about 2 minutes, it looks great.

Toss in the wine and the chili flakes and let it go another 30 seconds or so.

Toss in the turkey stock (or chicken, or water - but I have a TON of turkey stock in the freezer still left over from Christmas).

Wokking ginger

Reduce the stock until there is no liquid left. You want a faint film of turkey/chicken stock goodness on the outside of your chicken. But the liquid, you want that gone. Again, I reduced that stock to nothing inside of 45 seconds. 75,000 BTUs is some serious heat.

Turn off the heat, and toss with the scallions and sesame oil.

Ginger chicken

Serve. With rice. Holy yummy gingery, spicy goodness! And the texture of that chicken - you cannot create that texture on a stove top. Any time I've "stir-fried" chicken on the stove top it ended up considerably drier and chewier. This texture was straight out of a Chinese restaurant in China-town in Manhattan. Delish.

I served with sake I brought back from Tokyo - not Chinese - but better-suited than a cabernet sauvignon.



jacqueline f. said...

Hey Bbq Dude!

I love your blog. You have a ton of recipes that I want to try! And btw thanks for checking out my blog!


Bbq Dude said...

Jacqueline F.

Many thanks. I do enjoy checking out what other folks are eating and cooking.

John K. said...

Dude! Because of you I have added several items to my "must cook list"...now I have a new toy to add. That wok looks awesome. I've seen them before -- but your explanation of the btu differential makes so much sense -- I am sold! I have to get one now before our Ohio summer fades away....

Bbq Dude said...

John K.

Yeah, it's a pretty fun toy. The billows of steam coming off when I reduced the turkey stock were hilarious. And having everything pre-chopped and pre-measured into little cups made me feel more than a little like I was on TV...

KirkK said...

Hey BBQ Dude - Nice Big Kahuna.... I bought mine five years ago, and it had given me some great dishes. You can't beat the heat. It's too bad they make you buy all the "stuff". I bought just the burner for $49.95. BTW, is that a carbon steel wok? I hope you seasoned it before using.....

Bbq Dude said...


Yeah, it's good fun. I'm looking forward to more fun. I haven't seasoned it, I don't have space in my oven (it's a 22" wok). I should season it on the burner top, perhaps this weekend...

Dave said...

Man, that's one rocking wok! I don't think I have room for any more cooking toys, so I gotta find a wok that'll work on the Big Green Egg. How do you like the quality of the Eastman Outdoors wok?

Bbq Dude said...

The Eastman Outdoors wok is lovely. It's 22 inches, so it's big enough to put my 4 1/2 year old comfortably in it. I also purchased a smaller wok from the Wok Shop (http://www.wokshop.com/). Also seems good quality. It's really pretty hard to go wrong with a carbon steel wok, given how inexpensive carbon steel is...

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