Friday, February 11, 2011

True Love

With all is this talk of Valentine’s Day coming up lets talk about something I love – my pots and pans. And they are specific. Of course, my knives are extremely important to me and I have quite a collection of slicing, dicing, chopping options, but sooner or later they fail requiring a trip to the sharpener.

My number one partner in the kitchen has been from the start of my adult-life is a wok I purchased while in college down in Chinatown which has managed living around with world with me. If I had to give up all but one of my pots and pans, it would be that wok coated with years of experimenting and serving meals that would remain with me, I always say. It wilted the first bok choy I had ever eaten, presented years of paellas before a traditional container found its way into the kitchen. There were occasions when that bowled pot allowed chunks of pork to sizzle and crisp in deep fat.

Like an episode of Sister Wives I have brought others into the mix. An old, rust encrusted cast iron skillet was found on a table at a Pennsylvania flea market. Scrubbed with fine steel wool to rid it of its years of neglect its potential was once again recognized and requested. Now, mind you rescuing this pan came with living instructions. After scouring it was dried over an open flame to bone dry. Then I lightly oiled it, and heated over a high flame until it smoked. Then for the first twenty years that we were together I have never cleaned it with more than a soft sponge, a suspicion of soap and hot water. Then over a flame to dry – airing drying it would surely start it onto its previous path of corroded despair. I will admit that this pan that can easily pass through generations and found a fallow period when a Teflon clad interloper worked to usurp its power. Today, no flecks of that technical wonder can be found. As a disclaimer, be aware that cast iron skillets are heavy, so stop carrying them around the house.

Then there is the field of stainless cooking vessels from everyone and their promoter. They are our modern day workhorses. Though not all is equal. I am a fan of All-clad and am smitten by a new pan I received from a company called 360 Cookware, a eco-friendly production facility based in Wisconsin. They promote a vapor technology due to their rimmed pan and tight fitting lids that allows cooking to be done in a steaming like state. But I am a creature that craves brunt edges and needs to brown things than having a majority of my foods steamed – regardless of how healthy it is. So, I tried the pan as encouraged, heated over a medium flame, and not my usual blast. I laid down a filet of hamachi and allowed it to sear. Then I placed a few baby bok choys on top with some ginger and scallions and secured the lid. So far, no oil in the pan – I lowered my heat and cooked it for 10 minutes. To my pleasure the bok choy was cooked and fish lifted off crisped bottom in tact.

With a drizzle of ponzu sauce and sesame oil I was feeling love.

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