Before heading up north one weekend I decided I wanted to try stir frying by putting my wok directly on the coals of the bonfire. I had some veggies from the CSA box that I wanted to use, but I don’t like to spend a lot of time cooking up at the cabin. One of the interesting things from the CSA were some greens that aren’t really green. They’re amaranth leaves and they’re fuscia. But you cook them like greens.
I stir fry a lot at home but I can never get the wok as hot as I would like on my gas stove at home. I’d like to give it a try on a propane burner some time. But for now I was intrigued with the idea of setting the wok directly on the hot coals and being able to make dinner outside with everyone to keep me company.
It ended up being a lot of fun and we all got involved. The coals weren’t as successful a heat source as I had hoped, but we still had a delicious dinner in the end.
One of the possible problems was that we didn’t arrive until late afternoon and didn’t have enough time to build a good coal base for heat.
We moved the burning wood aside and set the wok on a bed of coals to heat up.
The ingredients were all ready to go: Bell & jalapeno peppers, onion, sirloin, amaranth leaves, noodles, Thai chili garlic sauce, xiao xing wine mixed with some soy sauce, and some vegetable oil. We stopped at Shamp’s Meat Market in Pine River and picked up some sirloin.
I carefully added some oil to the smoking hot wok and let that heat up until almost smoking. Then I added first the onions and then the peppers. This was when I realized I might not have the heat I hoped I would have.
After the veggies stir fried for a bit I added the sirloin, which had been marinated with some additional xiao xing wine, soy sauce, and a little corn starch
It now became apparent I really didn’t have the heat I needed. Since, there are always a lot of strange things laying around a Northwoods cabin, I wondered aloud about something to act as a sort of bellows. We found a large metal pipe which our friend used to try to breath some life into the coals. We advised him not to inhale.
I started out stirring with a spoon but soon abandoned this in favor of using a long stick.
In go the beautiful amaranth leaves . . .
. . . and now the noodles. See the stick? After that I added some xiao xing wine, soy sauce, and the chili garlic paste.
Could you ask for a more beautiful evening to eat outside?
The meal was finished with the traditional campfire treat of roasted marshmallows for dessert. We like ours charred!