What's cooking in the wok? Just about anything

April 14, 1993|By Gerald Etter | Gerald Etter,Knight-Ridder News Service

Linda Drachman had been a cook and culinary teacher for more than 20 years, with one cookbook already under her belt, when she was asked to craft a year's worth of recipes designed for the wok.

The result? An interesting and usable "365 Ways to Wok" (HarperCollins, $16.95), the 11th book in the popular 365-Ways series.

It was her broad food background that helped her to see the wok as a giant skillet and not merely a vehicle for cooking Asian dishes.

"Even though woks were not my specialty at the time," she said, "I've developed recipes for over 10 years and taught a number of courses, so there was no difficulty taking the assignment."

Cooking in a wok, according to Ms. Drachman, is a good way to save time. It's an inexpensive purchase and can virtually replace almost all other pots and pans.

Because of its wide, sloping sides, the wok has more surface area than a standard, flat-bottomed frying pan or skillet. It can be heated to very high temperatures, which, coupled with stir-frying, seals in flavor while preserving textures.

Ms. Drachman's book explains how to select a good wok and how to get the most out of it. She covers stir-frying, sauteing, pan-frying, steaming, stewing, poaching, braising and even baking. There are also recipes for making wok desserts.

The book includes wok appetizers, snacks, soups, pastas, vegetables, rice, grains, stews and poached dishes. Each chapter begins with tips on the particular technique employed.

Here are some recipes from the book:

Hot-and-sour soup

(Serves 4)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

4 scallions, sliced

2 carrots, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced

2 cans (14 1/2 ounces) chicken broth

1 cup water

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1 package (6 ounces) frozen Chinese pea pods, thawed

1 can (8 ounces) sliced water chestnuts, drained

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil

In a wok, heat oil over high heat until hot. Add scallions, carrots and garlic and stir-fry until crisp-tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Add mushrooms. Cook, stirring, until softened, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add chicken broth and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium. Simmer 5 minutes. Add cilantro, pea pods and water chestnuts. Cook 2 minutes.

Stir in vinegar, soy sauce and sesame oil. Cook 2 minutes and serve.

Snappy chicken wings

(Serves 4)

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

3 garlic cloves, crushed

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon crushed hot red pepper

2 pounds chicken wings, tips discarded

1/2 cup chicken broth

1/4 cup vodka

In a large glass bowl, combine 1 tablespoon of the oil with the balsamic vinegar, garlic, cumin, paprika, chili powder and hot pepper. Mix well. Add chicken wings and toss to coat. Marinate covered, in refrigerator for 2 hours. Remove chicken and reserve marinade.

In a wok, heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat until hot, swirling to coat sides of pan. Add chicken wings extending up sides of pan in one layer, and cook, turning, until browned all over, 6 to 8 minutes. Pour off fat.

Add reserved marinade, chicken broth and vodka. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until wings are tender, about 20 minutes.

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