Archive for the ‘Kitchen Tools’

How to Host Potlucks with Wok Hay

April 26, 2013
By Holly Jennings

Wok portrait collage


Above (from top left, clockwise): Judy, with her Teflon-coated wok (Judy ordered a flat-bottomed, carbon-steel wok, but was unhappy with the construction and returned it); Melanie, with her beautifully seasoned carbon-steel wok (she’s had it for years); Bhakti, with her 2-month-old carbon-steel wok (that looks as if she’s had it for years); Me, with my 2-month-old-plus wok, looking not nearly as nice as Bhakti’s; Marianne with her skilletful of Spicy Garlic Eggplant—notice the handmade label (she does not own a wok); Judy, again.


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Most recipes in The Breath of a Wok are intended to be stir-fried rapidly over furiously hot heat and dispatched to diners will equal speed. If a finished stir-fry loiters on a kitchen counter even for a few moments, eaters may miss their chance of experiencing its wok hay. Make a dish ahead and reheat—the common MO of potlucks—and you can forget about wok hay or enjoying those just tender but still perky snow peas.


How then to host a potluck of recipes from The Breath of a Wok, or for that matter any (more…)

Using a Cleaver to Cut Through Hard Stuff

March 17, 2013
By Holly Jennings

The cleaver and mallet method


Up until recently, I was using a cleaver all wrong. Not for chopping, but when attempting to cut through something hard and dense.


As though splitting firewood, I would hold the cleaver with both hands out in front of me and, with legs slightly spread for stability, whale down on my intended target, such as the middle of a large butternut squash.


My feeble attempts were seldom effective (about as effective as my wood splitting efforts), and what was worse is that the cleaver would usually get stuck in the squash. At those moments I would solicit the aid of the man of the house who could finish the job, sometimes with half a squash flying off the counter.


There had to be a better way, a less perilous way, but I had no idea what it could be. The way, it turns out, lies in (more…)