Flash in the pan: Adam Liaw’s 20-minute wok dishes | Australian food and drink

Used appropriately, a wok will be the saviour of weeknight dinners. I would like to emphasize used appropriately right here, as a result of the manner so many people have been taught to cook dinner with a wok is the precise reverse of how they’re greatest used. A wok isn’t a giant pot. Its most important function is to cook dinner small portions of food shortly.

The enormous woks over fire-breathing wok-burners in eating places prove a single plate at a time, however at residence, we attempt to load sufficient components to feed the entire household right into a wok and marvel why it seems soggy.

If in case you have eight components, make 4 smaller wok-fried dishes utilizing two components every, as an alternative of 1 massive one which makes use of all eight. You’ll have a larger number of servings, and they’ll prove like correct wok-fried dishes as an alternative of 1 massive stew.

Prawn and corn fried rice

(Pictured above)
Many fried rice recipes take their cue from the basic Yangzhou fried rice (typically seen on Australian menus as particular fried rice), the place small quantities of various components give the rice a multi-coloured confetti look – however fried rice doesn’t must be made up of quite a lot of issues. This model merely makes use of prawns, corn and spring onions, and makes for a tremendous meal.

Utilizing chilly rice from the fridge will assist you to separate the grains with a squashing movement of your spatula, with out turning it into mush. Be sure to use loads of oil, as the oil ought to coat the grains. Not utilizing sufficient oil is certainly one of the most typical errors folks make with fried rice.

Serves 4
Prep 10 min
Cook dinner 10 min

¼ cup (60ml) vegetable oil, plus further if wanted
12 massive uncooked prawns (about 400g meat)
, peeled and butterflied
2 garlic cloves
, finely chopped
2 corn cobs
, kernels stripped
3 eggs
4 cups (740g) leftover cooked jasmine rice, fridge chilly
Salt and floor white pepper
, to season
3 spring onions
, finely sliced

Warmth a big frying pan over a medium warmth and add the oil. Add the prawns and fry for about two minutes till not fairly cooked by. Toss the garlic by the prawns.

Add the corn kernels and cook dinner for an extra minute or two till they brighten. Take away the combination from the pan.

Add a bit further oil to the pan if wanted. Add the eggs and combine vigorously till the egg is cooked and begins to interrupt into small items.

Return the prawn and corn combination to the pan and add the rice. Fry, tossing, till nicely mixed and the rice is heated by and frivolously toasted. Season nicely with salt and pepper.

Stir the spring onion by and serve.

Scallops, asparagus and bacon

This can be a western stir-fry, and why not? A couple of components tossed collectively in a frying pan and seasoned is strictly what a stir-fry is – you don’t even must do it in a wok. You’ll be able to name it a sauté in case you choose.

We don’t speak about vinegars sufficient. Most cooks I do know spend quite a lot of time discovering good vinegars to complete dishes with, and are much more particular about the vinegars they use than they’re about oils. Salad dressings apart, a fast splash of vinegar is a wonderful option to end sauces, stews and even stir-fries like this one.

Serves 4
Prep 5 min
Cook dinner 10 min

Wok-fried scallops, bacon and asparagus
Wok-fried scallops, bacon and asparagus. {Photograph}: Steve Brown

25g butter
8 massive scallops
, roe off
80g bacon or speck
, reduce into lardons
½ brown onion, finely sliced
1 bunch asparagus
, reduce into 5cm lengths
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Salt and black pepper
, to season
Comfortable bread rolls
, to serve

Warmth a big frying pan or wok over a excessive warmth and add a bit of the butter. Sear the scallops for a minute or two on both sides till simply barely cooked by. Take away to a plate.

Add the bacon to the pan and fry till frivolously browned, then take away and add to the scallops.

Add the onion and remaining butter. Toss the onion for a minute till softened, then add the asparagus and toss for about two minutes till the asparagus is simply cooked. Add the vinegar and season generously with black pepper and a contact of salt, if wanted.

Return the bacon and scallops to the pan and toss to mix, then take away to a plate and serve with bread to mop up the buttery juices.

Cashew nut rooster

The origins of this dish return to the Chinese language basic, gong bao ji ding – typically Anglicised as kung pao rooster. Sichuan peppercorns are disregarded, scorching dried chillies are changed with capsicum, spring onions with common onions, peanuts with cashews, and black vinegar with white. I really like each variations.

Observe: Including a bit cornflour slurry (cornflour combined with chilly water) at the finish is an important step in many stir-fried dishes. It thickens the pan juices and sauces and helps them coat the components. It’s as vital to wok cooking as turning a fond right into a sauce is to French delicacies.

Serves 4
Prep 10 min
Cook dinner 10 min

Wok Cashew Nut Chicken
Wok-fried cashew nut rooster. {Photograph}: Steve Brown

1 massive boneless, skinless rooster breast (about 250g), reduce into 2cm cubes
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
2 tsp cornflour
¼ cup (60ml) vegetable oil
3 slices of recent ginger
, bruised
2 garlic cloves
, roughly chopped
1 small brown onion,
reduce into 3cm chunks
½ purple capsicum (bell pepper)
, reduce into 3cm chunks
½ inexperienced capsicum (bell pepper)
, reduce into 3cm chunks
1 cup (150g) unsalted roasted cashew nuts

For the sauce
2 tbsp rooster inventory or water
2 tbsp white vinegar
1 tbsp darkish soy sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
1½ tsp sugar
½ tsp sesame oil

Mix the sauce components and put aside.

Place the rooster, soy sauce, Shaoxing wine and one teaspoon of the cornflour in a bowl and combine nicely to coat the rooster. Mix the remaining teaspoon of cornflour with ½ cup (60 ml) chilly water and put aside.

Warmth a wok over a excessive warmth till highly regarded. Add two tablespoons of the oil round its edge, letting it run down into the centre of the wok. Add the rooster and fry for about three minutes till browned and separated. Take away the rooster from the wok.

Add the remaining oil to the wok, then add the ginger, then the garlic, and toss for about 30 seconds till the garlic is browned. Add the onion and capsicum and toss for a minute or two till simply beginning to soften. Add the stir-fry sauce and convey the sauce to a simmer.

Return the rooster to the wok and toss by the sauce. Drizzle in a few of the cornflour combination, shaking the wok and utilizing solely as a lot as is required to thicken the contents to a silky consistency.

Toss the cashews by and serve.

  • That is an edited extract from Tonight’s Dinner by Adam Liaw, printed by Hardie Grant Books and SBS, RRP $45. Accessible in shops nationally. Pictures: Steve Brown; Set images: Bruce Walters

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