I love to wok, so I jumped at the opportunity to head to Kitchens Cookshop in Bath earlier this month for a cooking demonstration with the one and only Ken Hom as part of his latest UK cookery tour. He’s a true wok wizard.
This man is credited with teaching Great Britain how to wok over 30 years ago (and for helping to develop the flat-bottomed wok that is better suited to the UK’s gas hobs in 1986), and we as a nation haven’t really looked back. By 2005, one in seven UK households owned a Ken Hom wok. Blimey.
After grabbing a glass of bubbly at the door, I was ready to watch the master at work, and to eat some of his world-famous Asian cooking of course.
If you’ve ever seen Ken on television, he was every bit a calm and unflustered as you’d imagine – as well as genuinely incredibly lovely – and that must be because, as he said, he finds cooking relaxing, and didn’t really see it as work.
Remembering how wok cooking influenced his early life, Ken Hom said, “After losing my father when I was just eight months old, I was brought up by my mother in the China Town district of Chicago and went to work in my uncle Paul’s restaurant at the age of 11. We were poor then but my mum would still create a three-course meal every day in her tiny kitchen, just using her wok and cleaver.
“I remember her quick, delicious meals made out of a little rice, a little dried fish, some spice. Once when she could not work for a month, she still produced flavoursome meals out of these few ingredients, and her wok. We loved the simple, wok prepared food.
“To enjoy life and be happy means to eat well. That I believe, wholeheartedly, and wok cooking allows me to do just that”.
Ken Hom’s pork fillet stir-fry
Ken rustled up stir-fry for the hungry crowd to sample, with thinly sliced pork fillet that had been marinated for just a few minutes in soy sauce, rice wine and sesame oil, plus some cornflour to absorb the juices.
He heated the wok until it was very hot, then added groundnut oil. When it was hot and smoking, he added the meat to the pan until it was browned (around 3 minutes). He then removed the meat and drained the reserved oil, and wiped the wok clean with a splash of water.
After reheating the pan, he added a dash of the drained oil to the pan, and when it was very hot, he added mangetout and red pepper and stir-fried for a few minutes. Next came the stock and oyster sauce, which he brought to the boil, and then he returned the pork to the pan before adding chunks of mango right at the last minute so that it didn’t go soggy.
Uncomplicated, exotic, and executed with flair, needless to say it tasted incredible – the meat was tender, the vegetables were juicy and the balance of oils and sauces was superb.
I’ve found egg-fried rice pretty difficult to master, but Ken made it look so straightforward. Here are his top tips.
Ken Hom’s top tips for egg-fried rice
- Ken Hom added the beaten egg (with a dash of sesame oil mixed in) to the cold rice and stirred it all together so the egg was absorbed by the rice. Here’s a video
- This means you can avoid getting those dryish flakes of egg, which don’t really mix into the rice properly, and the rice tasted rich all the way through.
- He also explained that it’s important to make sure that the wok is very hot when the rice hits it. And you should cook the cooled rice in the meat juices if you can.
- Oh, and never add soy sauce.
Look out for Ken on Saturday Kitchen on 26 September, BBC1!
Kitchens Cookshop, 4-5 Quiet St, Bath, BA1 2JS
We were invited to this event for free, but we were under no obligation to write a positive review. They did not see this review before it was published.