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.
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:
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 thighsChop up the chicken into bite sized bits. Mix with the salt and soy sauce.
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
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.
Now fire up the 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.
With a wok this hot, ALL your neighbors will be able to smell that ginger. YUM!
As it starts to smell, add the chicken.
As always, I apologize for the photo of raw chicken. This is my best, yet, though...
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).
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.
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.