Wok This Way

I love my wok. I mean, just look at it.

So simple, so elegant.

And it can do so much.

My wok was the first addition to my kitchen…my mom gave it to me on my birthday this past August right before I moved to Hartford, and I knew it would rely on it often. To be honest, I don’t have much in the way of pots and pans, but I’ve found that a wok is really all I need to conquer the vast majority of recipes out there in the blogosphere. Who needs a bunch of big, fancy skillets when you have a wok at your disposal? Not this girl (although just for the record, if someone would like to donate me some big, fancy skillets, I would not turn them away).

Obviously, the wok and I are pals. However, I’ve been neglecting it as of late…I knew this neglect had to be remedied tonight with a little stir-fry action.

I’ve been trying to use up some of the staples in my freezer and pantry before I move to CO in a couple of months. I have this horrible tendency to snap up exotic grains and frozen vegetables when they’re on-sale at Whole Foods and then forget about them.

In my pantry right now, I have brown rice, quinoa, bulgur, farro, a whole grains blend, black pearl rice, whole wheat couscous, whole wheat orzo, whole wheat Israeli couscous, soba noodles, Udon noodles, whole wheat lasagna noodles, whole wheat shells, 2 types of whole wheat spaghetti, and whole wheat rotelle pasta.

Whew…I feel tired after typing all that.

And I have only two months to use it all up…along with the random stuff in my freezer. I thus deemed tonight a freezer-pantry-wok meal!

I used only staples, and created something tasty and healthy. I present to you tonight’s meal: Spicy Tofu and Vegetable Stir-Fry

I started off by making a marinade of sherry, honey, chili paste, sesame oil, low sodium soy sauce, and 5-spice chinese powder. I placed half a slab of thawed (previously frozen) tofu in the marinade for about 30 minutes.

I then set about cooking the brown rice. Basically, I just let the rice absorb simmering water for about 40 minutes while I got the rest of the stir-fry together.

After the tofu was done marinating, I set aside the marinade and added cornstarch  and water to it. I then fried the tofu in some sesame oil until browned on all sides.

I then removed the tofu from the wok, and added some more sesame oil plus my ginger and frozen veggies! The smell of ginger frying in oil is one of those things that just makes me smile. Ditto the smell of garlic frying in oil…I would have added garlic to this if I had had any on hand that hadn’t already sprouted (whoops). I hate it when that happens!

After stirring the veggies for a few minutes, I added a 1/4 cup sherry to the wok and placed the lid on top.

At this point, I left the wok alone for a while and checked my e-mail…I needed to do something to prevent me from removing the lid every 5 seconds to see if the veggies are ready. I’m notoriously impatient when I cook. I’m like that child who keeps opening up the oven to check on the progress of the baking cookies.

Looking at my e-mail for the zillionth time today kept me occupied for about 5 minutes or so at which point the veggies were hot and ready to roll. I gleefully removed the lid and dumped the marinade and tofu back into the wok. I let the tofu + veggies + marinade flavors meld together for a few minutes. I was also hoping that the marinade would thicken up at this point, but it never did. Maybe I didn’t add enough cornstarch? Or I added too much water?


Anyway, something didn’t go quite right with those efforts. Because the whole thickening thing wasn’t happening, I instead decided to let the tofu absorb the marinade and have the rest of it boil off. It eventually did, leaving a very flavorful stir-fry as the end result. Thick sauces are overrated anyways…

I served my spicy tofu and veggie stir-fry atop a portion of brown rice and garnished it with red pepper flakes. Can’t stop the heat!

Yummy yummy in my tummy. I love tofu if it’s nice and flavorful like this. Freezing it beforehand also gives it additional texture, and I have read that it makes it absorb flavors more easily than fresh tofu.

With my spicy tofu creating heat in my mouth, I wanted a dessert to cool it off!

I chose the last of my lemon sorbet.

Nighttime activities will include watching tv, reading, sneaking bites of the honey cashew-coconut butter (did I just type that?), and doing dishes. Oh, the life I lead. It’s just too exciting for words.

Is anyone else out there obsessed with their wok? Or do you have another pot/pan/appliance that’s claimed your heart?


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