Pantry Basics

Wok This Way
March 19, 2010 • Posted by Jennifer Perillo

Busy schedules can make enjoying a healthy home-cooked meal challenging. Wok cooking is a tasty solution to beating the clock and enjoying more time for fun in the sun as the weather warms up. I’ve had my wok for about 20 years now. It’s one of the first kitchen gifts I ever bought myself when I was a teenager and up watching late-night infomercials—I’ve been hooked ever since. It gets pretty hot with the flame turned up, especially during summertime, so that’s when I switch to the electric skillet. Here are some of time-tested tricks for making stir-fries.

Ready, Set, Cook— Have all your ingredients prepped and ready to go. Once you start sautéing, the whole cooking process moves fast. This includes pre-measuring sauces too!
Lean Cuisine— Slice meats like chicken, beef and pork very thin so they cook quickly.
Tofu 101— Buy an extra-firm variety and drain any excess liquid. Cut the block into ¾-inch thick slices and layer them between paper towels on a dish. Place a cutting board on top layer and weigh down with a heavy pot or skillet. Let sit about 10 minutes, discard the wet towels and you can then finish preparing the tofu according to the recipe.

Orange & Sesame Stir-Fried Tofu
serves four

1 orange, cut into 1/4-inch thick triangles
1 clove garlic, smashed
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
Splash of white wine, optional
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 pound extra-firm tofu, drained and cubed
Fistful of fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon black sesame seeds

  1. Place the oranges in a deep bowl and mash them until juices are released (my bar muddler worked perfect for this step). Add garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, white wine, if using, salt and pepper. Stir with a fork, using the same motion as scrambling an egg. Add tofu and cilantro, toss well to coat with a rubber spatula. Let sit, covered in a refrigerator, two hours or overnight.
  2. Separately drain the tofu and orange slices, reserving the marinating liquid. Heat olive oil in a wok or deep skillet. Add tofu and sauté on high heat until nicely browned on all sides; transfer to a dish to keep warm (you may need to do this in two batches depending on size of work or skillet). Add the orange slices to the skillet and sauté until heated through. Return the tofu to the wok, add the sesame seeds and reserved marinating liquid. Toss well, and sauté two more minutes. Serve with hot jasmine rice.

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