RECIPE OF THE WEEK: What Should I Make In My Wok?

Sub-question: Do I even deserve this wok?
Publish date:
April 28, 2015
cooking, xoFood, sandwiches, vegetarian, Recipe Of The Week

Hello again, and welcome back to Recipe of the Week, the hottest food discussion column around.

If last week's "meatless sandwich" assignment had been graded, you would all get an A+. You guys are very good at sandwiches, meat or no meat.

The most up-voted (and most creatively named) sandwich was the 1870 from Danni.

The above comment reads thusly:

As a vegetarian for 15+ years, I've made and eaten a lot of meat-free sandwiches. Tomato sandwiches are pretty high up on my list of favorites, but my all time favorite is a magnificent creation I call 'The 1870.' It's a grilled cheese sandwich with brie, sauerkraut, dijon mustard, and mayonnaise on rye bread. It is nothing short of transcendent. Make sure you drain the sauerkraut really well, and ideally heat it up in the microwave or a skillet before adding it to the sandwich. Use lots of brie and just a scant smear of mustard and mayonnaise. Light rye is my preferred bread, but you do you. Fry the whole thing in butter. Devour. As to the weird name? This sandwich unites the proud culinary traditions of two great cultures...and 1870 was the year of the Franco-Prussian War. I revel in obscure historical references. I am weird. I regret nothing. Also, one day I decided to replace the sauerkraut with kimchi (and omit the mustard and mayo) and it was fantastic.

First of all, I just want to acknowledge how clever this name is. I am very impressed. I consider myself a decently witty person, but the hardest part of recipe development (for me) is coming up with a name. Usually I panic and fall back on just naming the dish after its ingredients, so this very specific, history-inspired sandwich is kind of blowing my mind right now.

The sandwich ain't bad either. As Danni suggested, I drained the kraut well and then heated it up in the pan. While that was getting warmed up, I buttered the outsides of two pieces of light rye (also my preferred rye) and spread on a bit of mayo and a bit of Dijon. I then removed the rind from about half a wheel of brie and smooshed that on the bread. That was topped with the warm sauerkraut, and the whole thing was fried.

What a marriage of flavors. The pungent fermented cabbage cuts through the rich and buttery brie in a way that is most pleasing, while hints of sweet and spicy Dijon and creamy mayo add depth of flavor without distracting from the major players.

Well played.

Your trophy, dearest Danni, is "Rich Girl" by Hall and Oates, because just as sauerkraut cuts through brie, so do these sharp and sour lyrics cut through the rich and sweet melody of this song. (I was considering "Heaven is a Place on Earth, by Belinda Carlisle, but the music video terrified me.)

Upwards and onwards.

Last week, I was doing some unpacking (because I will be unpacking for the rest of my damn life) and I found even more kitchen stuff. This was both exciting and disheartening, because I love kitchen stuff but I'm kind of running out of room.

Anyway, one of the items I found was this wok.

The wok was a wedding gift. I have used it exactly once. I then failed to clean it properly and it rusted. I scrubbed all the rust off and it's fine, but I'm not totally sure how to proceed. I cannot however admit this to my husband because he didn't want a wok in the first place. "Let's not be those people who put things we don't really need on our registry," he said.

"But woks are so versatile!" I explained.

"What will you make with a wok?"

"Uh...stir fries and...other things. I'll Google it."

In spite of my unconvincing argument, the wok somehow ended up on the registry. (I was holding the registry gun.) Sean tried to get rid of the wok during the "purging" stage of the move, but once again I prevailed. (I snuck it in a trunk with my purses.)

Now I need your help. I need you to help me prove that it has all been worth it, that the wok is a very useful, multifunctional kitchen tool that I was right to put on the registry. I've read that you can steam, smoke, and deep-fry food in this magnificent pan, but I'm not sure where to start.

So tell me: what are your favorite wok recipes? (Sub-question: Do I even deserve this wok? Spoiler: Probably not.)