All The Ovens In China Are Knackered
(Originally written in 2009 – I now have a working oven again)
Anyone who knows me will know I’m partial to Chinese food.
The REALLY lucky ones will have actually got to taste my Chinese cooking.
I’m good. I mean good to the point that there are now several dishes that I make much better than any Chinese restaurant! I’m still learning and still experimenting, but I seem to have a knack for this stuff!
It’s a bloody good job I’m good, too! My oven is knackered, and takes three or four times longer to cook anything, and even then it only cooks from the bottom electric element. Oh how I long to eat pizza again that isn’t sloppy on top with a rock hard bottom… So using the wok for anything and everything is most definitely on the cards!
I’m also a perfectionist, and am constantly refining everything from how long and how I cook stuff for, right down to how I cut the meat and vegetables in preparation!
I’ve just had my first crack at Prawn Kung Po – one of my favourite dishes from the local restaurant (Called ‘Trans’!!! “HARRO TRANS!”) – although they batter and deep fry all the meat in theirs. Deep frying in the wok is next on my list to do Kung Po their way and also Crispy Shredded Beef. OM NOM NOM NOM!
So I’m going to let all you buggers in on a few of my secrets that you’re welcome to try for yourself.
First off has to be the base of many meals:
Egg Fried Rice
Ideally, you’ll be using cold leftover rice that’s been in the fridge for about a day. This hasn’t happened for me yet, so I have to improvise a bit!
Boil up your rice (white long grain) in a saucepan of water for around 20 mins until the grains are soft but still a little firm. Some people do all that crap where all the water is gone just as it’s cooked etc but they’re witches and I’ll report anyone who can do it. I mean, what’s wrong with just tipping the stuff out into a sieve like normal people do? Right? So do this.
Then give it a good running under the cold tap. The colder you get it the better, because if not it all goes clumpy and mushy and you’ll have to tell everyone you’ve cocked it up in your Facebook status. So get it all nice and cool and then leave it in the seive while you prepare the rest of your food so it drains off as well as it can.
For the egg fried rice my style, this means chopping the green leafy part of a spring onion as finely as you can. If you put peas in this I will find you and kill you. Also make sure everything you’re going to need is easily to hand with the top off/open. One thing I love about Chinese cookery is the preparation and then the way it all happens at once and makes you wish you had about another five arms to sort it out! Intense, baby!
Probably the most imprortant tip I’ll give you is to use Peanut Oil or ‘ground nut oil’ in your wok. Seriously, this tastes far better than any other oil – mainly because you can’t taste it – and also has a higher boiling point so you won’t burn stuff and catch fire! If you have peanut allergies it’s tough titty and it sucks to be you!
Put the wok over the gas on high for a few seconds then add a splash of oil.
Now I have two methods for this. I used to fry/scramble the eggs first and add the rice last, but I’ve tried the more traditional method tonight and may well stick to this…
So whack the rice into your hot wok. At this point in any cooking, if you haven’t done it already, I would STRONGLY recommend that you have a good old Hurdy Gurdy Shurdy Flurdy Birdy.
What? I’ve lost you???
Ok, ok… Go and watch a clip of Chef from The Muppet Show. I’ll wait.
Got it now? Yes! This improves ANY dish you ever make!
So you fry the rice for a few minutes so it’s all nice and hot. Make a kind of nest in the middle of the rice (so the bottom of the nest is your wok and all the rice is around the sides) and crack your egg into there. Give it a poke around until it’s scrambled and cooked, and then fold it into the rice. Add your sliced spring onion and a bit of garlic powder (if using fresh crushed garlic add this to the oil at the start), and fry for a while longer. I’ve found the ‘secret ingredient’ here is to add one to one and a half drops per serving of Sesame Oil. If desired you can add a few dashes of soy sauce here or on the plate.
Tip it out onto a plate then put this in your broke-assed oven to keep warm whilst you cook the main dish.
Now go and enjoy!