What are the odds of whipping up a hot healthy dinner in the time it takes to have pizza delivered? Excellent, if you’re using a wok.
Wok cooking may be the original fast food. For over 2,000 years, the Chinese have been using the wok as their primary cooking utensil. In traditional stir-fries, small cuts of vegetables and meat are quickly cooked over high heat for a delicious meal in a matter of minutes. This healthy technique preserves the colors, texture and nutrients in foods using very little oil.
In addition to stir-frying, the multi-purpose wok is an inexpensive kitchen tool used to steam, braise and poach. The flat bottom design efficiently distributes heat up the slanted bowl shaped sides, allowing for rapid even cooking. Like cast-iron skillets, metal woks become “seasoned” with use and more valued over time.
Newly opened Canton Cook II is the place to visit for wok cooking “inspiration” and a delicious meal. Located in the Sandy Springs Crossing Shopping Center [near LA Fitness] at Roswell and Abernathy Roads, this 100 seat eatery is operated by the three Xu brothers, Eric, William and Ming. They honed their cooking and restaurant skills working at the popular restaurant, which is owned by their sister Kathy.
The Xu brothers bring Canton Cooks’ extensive menu, deftly prepared dishes and attentive service to the new restaurant. You’ll find the usual Chinese American fare, as well as, more classic and exotic dishes for adventuresome palates.
During a recent lunch visit, we began our meal with the Dragon Soup for two, an egg white thicken chicken broth loaded with crabmeat and shrimp. Next, we dug-in to a generous portion of Pan-Fried Spicy Salted Squid (calamari) served over a bed of lettuce. Lightly seasoned with a thin crispy batter, the calamari was so tasty and tender my dining companion swooned, “It’s the best I’ve ever eaten!”
The crisp crackling skin and succulent juices on our BBQ Duck made it finger licking good. A few of the duck pieces were a little boney; however, we were content savoring the flavorful juices with the fluffy steamed rice.
A side order of crunchy stir-fried Chinese Broccoli with a drizzle of oyster sauce was the perfect vegetable to round out our meal.
If you need more incentives to try Canton Cook II, take advantage of their grand opening special, a 10 percent discount on all meals through the end of the year. In addition, they offer optional steamed brown rice and happily accommodate special dietary restrictions since all meals are freshly cooked to order.
Use these handy Cooking Tips when making this sweet and savory Mango Shrimp & Veggie stir-fry in your wok or deep skillet/sauté pan. Substitute a bag of pre-washed stir-fry vegetables if you want to save prep time. Happy woking!
Wok Cooking & Stir-fry Tips
1. Know Order/Sequence of Steps. Stir-fry is usually done quickly in batches over high heat using small amounts of oil. Seasonings first, meat/protein stir-fried & removed, vegetables stir-fried, meat/protein added back, sauce added and mixture thicken. Prepare and measure all ingredients, Have everything you need close-by.
2. Pre-heat the wok first for a minute or two. When you feel the heat by holding your hand over pan or a drop of water sizzles, add the oil by pouring down side of pan to disperse, swirl pan to coat evenly. Use canola or peanut oil because their high smoke points can take the heat without burning.
3. Stir, Don’t Stare. Keep stirring & tossing food to cook fast and evenly. Use a wide metal pancake turner or a stir-fry spatula with sides to facilitate the stir-fry motion. Don’t overcrowd wok. If batch is too large, ingredients give off too much moisture and won’t cook evenly or brown; will steam or boil instead of getting crisp.
4. Taste and adjust seasonings. Garnish. This little touch makes a big difference. Use a bit of ingredient in the dish to enhance but keep it simple (i.e. slice of orange, sprig of cilantro or sprinkle of sesame seeds). Enjoy!
Mango Shrimp & Vegetable Stir-fry
1 Tbsp. oyster-flavored sauce (or reduced-sodium soy sauce)
1 tsp. corn starch
1 Tbsp. Chinese Rice Wine or Dry Sherry (optional)
1 lbs. large shrimp, shelled and deveined
2 Tbsp. Canola oil, divided
4 slices fresh ginger, lightly smashed, (1 inch piece)
2 cloves garlic, lightly smashed
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 cups ripe mango, cut into small cubes
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 handfuls fresh pea pods
½ cup sliced water chestnuts (optional)
2 Tbsp. hoisin sauce
2 tsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce
½ tsp. sugar
½ cup whole almonds or cashews
Combine marinade in bowl, add shrimp and stir to coat. Let stand for 10 minutes.
Place wok or skillet over high heat until hot. Add 1 tbsp. oil, swirl to coat sides. Add 2 pieces of ginger with 1 piece of garlic; cook until fragrant, about 20 seconds. Add shrimp to wok in a single layer; let sizzle for about 30 seconds to sear before flipping and fry other side another minute or two, until just cooked through and no longer pink. Remove to bowl and set aside.
Add remaining 1 tbsp. oil and swirl to coat sides. Add remaining ginger and garlic with onion; stir-fry a couple minutes until onion softens. Add mango, red bell peppers, pea pods and water chestnuts; stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add hoisin sauce, rice wine, soy sauce and sugar; mix well. Add shrimp and cook until heated through, a couple minutes. Add nuts and mix well. Adjust seasonings to taste. Serve with steamed rice or noodles.
Note: Substitute fresh ripe pears, peaches or pineapple for mango; tofu, chicken or beef for shrimp.