I’ve just bought a new hob, after our last one broke in a depressingly final manner. Having no stovetop is clearly not an option in the Lemur household so we had to get a new one installed PDQ. As it turned out, the only one that fit the space was a fancy-schmancy type with a special wok-burner in the middle. I swear it was Mr Lemur who made this purchase, not me rationalising my need for an Asian food oriented kitchen. Really! Once we got the thing up and running (i.e. after we dealt with the mildly terrifying gas leak and made sure we were not actually about to blow ourselves up) it seemed only right to bust out the wok and stir fry some stuff.

I’m always a bit sceptical of stir frying at home. I know I can’t begin to get my wok hot enough for proper wok hei, the roasty quality imparted to food in a properly made stir fry. Plus, I’m not realistically going to cook one portion at a time, so I probably always have a bit too much in the wok for optimal speed of cooking. That said, the new work burner is kind of impressive. It has two concentric rings of gas and is big enough that you can actually get the whole wok pretty well heated. So to inaugurate the new wok burner, I decided on a simple Sichuan dish of bok choy and minced pork with chilies and Sichuan peppercorns. The unique Sichuan flavour of ma la, or numbing and spicy, is for me the perfect way to bring out the toastiness of wok-cooked food.

Sichuan wok-fried pork and greens

  • 250 g minced pork
  • 4 heads of bok choy
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 5 cm of ginger
  • 10-12 dried red chilies
  • 1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 tbs dark soy sauce
  • 2 tbs oil

Cut the bok choy into quarters lengthwise, so that they hold together and sit in a bowl of water for several minutes to wash. Parboil them for 2 minutes and drain well.

Chop the garlic and ginger fine. Heat the wok and, when very hot, add the oil. First add the chilies and peppercorns – fry for just a few seconds until you can smell them, then add the pork. When the meat is just browned, add the garlic and ginger. Fry for another minute and then add the greens. Move the meat out of the way so that the greens come into good contact with the wok – ideally you want to char them a little on the outside.

Stir constantly for a minute more and then add soy sauce. Stir through and serve immediately.

Serves 2-3

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