I own a wok. It's stored in my basement alongside the bundt pan, waffle maker, canning pot, and other items I use a handful of times a year. Actually, I probably use the wok less. It's because, like many other people, I think of the wok as a tool for cooking Asian food only. In Everyday Wok, local author Lorna Yee expands the repertoire of the wok and reminds readers that the wok isn't just for Asian cooking. Woks are inexpensive, conduct heat very well and have a lot of surface area for cooking fast and hot. They're as good for poaching and braising as they are for stir frying and steaming.
The 55 recipes in Everyday Wok are divided into chapters for breakfast and brunch, mains, sides, and dessert. Breakfast recipes are largely centered around eggs--including a fried egg sandwich with Taleggio cheese and arugula, a chorizo, harissa and potato hash, and bananas foster French toast. Mains include a handful of Asian dishes like potstickers, kung pao chicken, and a beef and broccoli stir fry, but there are also recipes for pulled pork sandwiches, seafood paella, risotto, and mac 'n' cheese. Sides include stir-fried garlicky green beans, slow cooked collard greens, hush puppies, and French fries. And the desserts chapter includes churros, sticky toffee pudding, fried apple pies, and bread pudding.
In the introduction of this cookbook, Yee explains how to choose, season and maintain a wok. There's also an Asian pantry primer, describing the various Asian ingredients used in recipes. Most recipes however use items you can find at any well-stocked supermarket. In each recipe, headnotes describe the origin of a dish--either personally or historically. Some include suggestions for serving or making ahead, but otherwise this straightforward book provides recipes for delicious and unique ways to get the most out of your wok.
The only thing that isn't "everyday" about the recipes in Everyday Wok, is the richness of many dishes. Naturally, deep-fried ones such as old-fashioned southern buttermilk fried chicken, French fries, and oyster po' boys aren't healthy dishes to eat everyday. There's even an extra yolk in the fried egg sandwich--which is a brilliant idea--but also something 9 out of 10 cardiologists aren't going to recommend for everyday eating. When I reach for a pan to cook up breakfast this weekend though, I will definitely give my wok a chance.
Lorna Yee will be at Book Larder in Fremont for a free book signing and tasting event on Wednesday, November 28 6:30 to 8 p.m.