Wednesday, March 11, 2009

How to season a wok and other tidbits from Chinatown

It's always nice to meet new friends, learn interesting tidbits of history, taste different foods, and acquire new talents...all of which I got to do today! I toured KL's Chinatown along with about 15 others as part of a field trip organized by the American Association of Malaysia.

Of course, meeting new friends is the best! I met ladies from Whales, France, Canada, various states within the United States, and even a lady from Katy, Texas. That makes 2 women from Katy in 2 weeks. Can you believe it?

The most interesting food that I was served was actually a special drink. It was iced nutmeg tea. The owner of a Chinese restaurant located in KL's historical Central Market explained that it takes over five hours to brew as it requires a double boiling process. It was quite flavorful..sort of had a peppery taste and is claimed to have positive medicinal qualities.

As far as history, I learned things like KL was originally a tin mining town, and that the founder of the city, Kapitan Yap Ah Loy, has a very small street in Chinatown named after him in addition to an altar of honor at See Ya, the oldest temple in KL. I also learned about the three largest ethnic groups, Malay, Chinese, and Indian, and how their cultures, religions, and viewpoints on life contribute to a diverse experience for all.

However, the most unique lesson of the day was learned in a Chinese shophouse that sold anything and everything for the kitchen. One of my new friends and I returned to this shop after our tour was completed in order to purchase woks. I would've gladly paid twice what we paid just for the experience! Not only did we leave the store with cast iron woks, but also with very through animated instructions on how to season them given to us simultaneously by both the Chinese shopkeeper and an elderly Indian "auntie" who was also shopping at the store.

The instructions are as follows:
1. Wash the wok with soap and water.
2. Get a fresh coconut from the market and have the grocer mash the coconut.
3. Rub the mashed coconut flesh all over the wok
4. Boil water in the wok and add Chinese tea...allow to simmer.
5. Drain the tea and fry a chicken egg.
6. Throw the cooked egg away.

After completing these steps, the wok should now be seasoned and ready to use. According to many sites that showed up on a Google search, I could simply use vegetable oil, but how fun would that be? Tomorrow, I'm planning to shop for mashed coconut and Chinese tea. With any luck, the wok will be successfully seasoned, and Sam will have fried rice for dinner!


Anonymous said...

Let me know how that comes out! Having taught ESL students for almost 10 years now, I have received lots of interesting cooking "recipes" over the years!

Tracey, your blog continues to enchant - keep up the wonderful and encouraging work my friend...

David Michael said...

Wok this way! Sounds like it is going to be good!