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Working With a Wok


Jerry is constantly looking for more ways to get more vegetables into his diet. One of the best and most versatile is to start using a wok, or something very much like it. According to Chef Jerry Pellegrino, the wok is a simple tool, but there are some techniques you can learn to make your stir fries go better. Here is some of his advice and a few recipes.

Cooking with a Wok

I’ve found that these ‘WOK 10 COMMANDMENTS’ really explain the does and don’ts of wok cooking. Here’s a few great recipes to make in your wok:

Thai Stir Fried Beef

Paste Ingredients:

Fresh Small Thai Chili Peppers (prik kee noo) 6-8 Each

Garlic Cloves 6 Each

Salt ½ tsp

Stir-Fry Ingredients:

Vegetable Oil 4 Tbsp.

Ground Beef 400 grams

Fish Sauce 3 Tbsp.

Palm or Granulated Sugar ½ tsp

Holy Basil Leaves, Picked 1 Cup

Make a rough paste by pounding chili peppers, salt and garlic (including peel) in a mortar with pestle.

Place a wok on the stove and heat oil. When hot, add the paste and stir very quickly (do not allow it to burn). Add the ground beef and stir-fry very quickly over a very high heat for about one minute until the beef is almost cooked. Season with fish sauce and palm sugar; stir to evenly distribute seasoning.

Turn off heat and add holy basil leaves.

Serve over rice with a fried egg, sunny side up.

This dish is considered the equivalent of the “Thai hamburger” – it is the national go-to dish for a quick, satisfying one-plate meal. Pad krapao is actually a cooking term, meaning to stir-fry with chili peppers and garlic, finished off with holy basil. The seasonings do not change, but you can choose to add any kind of protein. -Serves 4

Pad Thai

Pad Thai Sauce:

Pickled Garlic 300 Grams

Fresh Garlic, Peeled and Chopped 100 Grams

Thai Chili Peppers 170 grams

Thai Chili Sauce 3 Cups

Ketchup 1 Cup

Pickled Garlic Juice 1 Cup

Palm Sugar 1 Kilogram

Distilled Vinegar 375 ml

Tamarind Juice 3 Cups

Salt 3 Tablespoons

Fish Sauce ½ Cup

Water 3 Liters

Pad Thai:

Vegetable Oil 60 mL

Garlic, Minced 3 Cloves

Prawns, Cleaned and Peeled 250 Grams

White Bean Curd, Diced Small 150 Grams

Daikon, Finely Chopped (Sweet Pickled Chinese Turnip) 80 Grams

Dried Shrimp 30 Grams

Dry Thai Rice Stick Noodles (Soaked in cold water until strands are white, and drained.) 300 Grams

Pad Thai Sauce 230 mL

Eggs 2

Bean Sprouts 150 grams

Chives cut to ½ Inch Length 70 Grams

Chopped Toasted Peanuts, Unsalted 50 Grams

Chili Powder

Optional Garnish

Lime Wedges

Garnish with 4 Pieces


Pad Thai Sauce Directions:

Place all the ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth.

Transfer the mixture to a saucepan, stir to mix well, and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer in order to allow the sauce too evaporate and thicken. Once the liquid is reduced by almost half and tastes sweet, sour and slightly salty, allow it to cool. Once cooled, transfer to an air-tight container and refrigerate until you’re ready to make Pad Thai.

Pad Thai Directions:

In a wok, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over moderate heat. Add garlic and stir-fry until fragrant. Add prawns and stir-fry until pink but not cooked through. Immediately take out of the wok and reserve.

In the same wok, add a little more oil, then add white bean curd and dried shrimp. Stir-fry until bean curd browns. Add the noodles and stir-fry to soften. Add Pad Thai sauce a little bit at a time. Stir-fry to mix quickly. The noodles will soften further and absorb the flavors of the sauce. Taste. If the flavors are not intense enough, add a little more sauce and allow it to seep into the noodles. Add the Daikon and more dried shrimp. Stir-fry to incorporate the ingredients. Move the noodles to one side of the wok. Raise the temperature and crack the eggs into the clear side of the pan. Cover the eggs with the noodles. Reduce the heat a little and allow the eggs to cook. Toss all the noodles together to spread the eggs. Mix in the bean sprouts, chopped chives and peanuts. Serve the Pad Thai, garnished with fresh bean sprouts, chives, lime wedges and a banana blossom if available.

Al Spoler, well known to WYPR listeners as the wine-loving co-host of "Cellar Notes" has had a long-standing parallel interest in cooking as well. Al has said, the moment he started getting serious about Sunday night dinners was the same moment he started getting serious about wine. Over the years, he has benefited greatly from being a member of the Cork and Fork Society of Baltimore, a gentlemen's dining club that serves black tie meals cooked by the members themselves who are some of Baltimore's most accomplished amateur cooks.
Executive Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Corks restaurant is fascinated by food and wine, and the way they work in harmony on the palate. His understanding of the two goes all the way to the molecular level, drawing on his advanced education in molecular biology. His cuisine is simple and surprising, pairing unexpected ingredients together to work with Corks' extensive wine offerings.