Okay, so it doesn’t seem like it would be a big deal and, in fact, I had assumed it would not be that big a deal but it’s hard to find a wok in Japan! Well, in Nagoya within non-car walking distance from the house, with very little knowledge of the city lol. You can find plenty of different cooking vessels for both Japanese and Western style cooking but an honest to goodness, non-electric wok is not that common (I checked Tokyu Hands and everything!) We used our (well, I say ‘our’ but it was actually Superman’s brother’s which he asked us to season and use till he needed it back many, many years ago) wok a LOT in Australia – not just for stir fries but for steaming, deep frying, poaching and on one occasion, which I have admitted to no-one till now, an attempt at smoking (Elizabeth Chong said it could be done, I swear!) Anyway it was beloved but the wooden handles were scorched and the more I learned to use it the more I realised that there is a reason purists push for the round-bottomed type, so we discarded it before the big move (Flash, if you’re reading this, we’ll buy you a new one any time you need it!) After all: OF COURSE it will be easy to find a good wok in Japan!
Saturday night I was really, really in need as we had friends coming over to whom I had promised tempura and I really didn’t have a pan which wouldn’t be sorely tested, if not destroyed, by deep frying. Et voila I found one! Don’t you love serendipity? It was in a little shop which stocks all sorts of special cooking things both Japanese and not and with which I am quickly falling in love. It was the same place I bought my superwhizbang pastel-yellow enamel steamer/double-boiler/stockpot which I also adore!
I seasoned the wok last night and made tempura (which the wok directions suggest you do as part of the seasoning process – more serendipity!) and I finally found out what the weird springy metal thing is that sticks up in the middle of the hotplate on the right on my stove. Under the “firing button” on the left there are 3 temperatures (160, 180 and 200) with a little tempura prawn picture next to it. Obviously I new this was about setting the temp for tempura but I didn’t realise that the springy thing was … the thermostat! While I was cooking the tempura the flame was constantly firing up and slowing down to make the perfect tempura! Okay, okay maybe I should have guessed thermostat but I just didn’t connect them.
When I cleaned and hung up the wok I noticed that the flames had made a lovely, metallic rainbow, flower pattern on the bottom! I’m not sure whether I should try to make the flames hit the same spots in subsequent uses or see if I can get a layered rose petal kind of effect lol!
So, we enjoyed the meal on the new dining room table which had arrived in the mid-afternoon. After a month of anticipation our living/dining room is finally complete!
With miso, sashimi, tempura and plenty of beer and chu-hi we had a great night and the table began it’s life as we hope it will continue: at the centre of much merriment – thanks for coming A&R!