After a killer conference this past weekend at the CIA in Napa on Asian cuisine, it dawned on me that I hadn't seen my wok in ages. Could it have been lost in a move? Stolen by marauders? Vanished. So I sallied forth to my local Asian grocery store and rifled thought the piles of teflon coated flat bottomed travesties and found a shiny new hammered steel wok. The biggest I could fit on my stove (though they had even bigger ones).
On a whim I decided to season it with duck fat, and the results were truly spectacular.
Here's the method: wash the wok and dry thoroughly. Put the whole thing in the barbecue grill, mine was just barely big enough, and crank up the heat, covered. Let it heat for about 15 minutes. Then rub a few tablespoons of fat all around the interior surface and cover the grill. Repeat 4 or 5 times, using nearly a cup of fat. The result is a gorgeously laquered vitrually non-stick surface, as shown above.
For the maiden stif fry I did a simple medley of broccoli, carrots, baby corn and other sundry vegs. I also had to break out the steamer and made some shrimp ha gao, which I haven't done in ages. As well as a lovely red-cooked short rib dish with chilies, star anise, black cardamom and tangerine peel. Lush.
Whatever could have lead to this long hiatus in Chinese cookery, I can't say, but the revival promises to be pretty exciting. If you haven't seen it yet, go out and buy Fuchsia Dunlop's new book on Hunan Cuisine. Absolutely fabulous.