wok in charcoal grill?
My kitchen remodel is a couple of years away, and I'm currently cooking without ventilation in my tiny house. I've pretty much given up using my wok, since the house gets filled with smoke and grease, not to mention the incessant blaring of the smoke detectors.
Now that the great New England spring weather is here, I'm interested in trying my wok directly on the coals in my charcoal grill so I can get a little bit of carmelizing, if not some wok hay. I use hardwood charcoal, which burns pretty hot. Does anyone have any experience using a wok on a grill? Any thoughts appreciated.
It works very well. Just be sure you realize you're dealing with heat that's WAY hotter than your stovetop can crank out, and be sure the wok is stable, preferably flat-bottomed.
Cooking in a wok that's in direct contact with hot coals is *exactly* how it's supposed to be done. You'll be amazed at the difference the extremely hot bottom center makes. Just remember to keep tossing the food in the wok, you really can't let it sit moe than a few seconds if the wok is properly heated.
I have had fantastic success using a wok over lump charcoal in a Japanese "shichirin". basically a round, bucket shaped brazier made of an earthenware material. It actually has 3 rounded protrusions on top that are perfectly designed to support a round bottomed pan like a wok. Pretty much the kind of heat source the wok was designed for and has been traditionally used for millenia.
Use a nice big charcoal chimney starter with about half a quart of charcoal -- very efficient/ I have done this on rainy camping trips when I got fed up with the pathetic cook stove in the cabin and it was to wet for a proper cooking fire.
The big Weber chimney is more stable than the cheaper smaller ones. It works fine to sort of wok and sit or squat or you can stack some concrete blocks and put a piece of patio block on top to make an impromtu fireproof table.
Use a wok with a one loop handle and one pot style handle so you can move it around.
Thanks for the helpful suggestions, everyone. I had some fresh rice noodles that I needed to use up, so I decided to go carefully with the equipment that I have, which is a good-sized carbon-steel wok and a 1/2 barrel smoker. After checking to make sure that the wok would be stable, I built a fire to one side in the smoker and put the wok directly on it. I used a long wok spatula to stir the food, and found that my "Ov-Glove" worked just fine to protect my hands from the heat.
This was definitely the best stir-fried food I've ever made. It had a nice charred, slightly smoky taste from the hot wok. I heated the wok in the fire, added some peanut oil, then threw in the noodles for a few seconds. After removing the noodles, I let the wok heat up a bit, added more oil and aromatics, and then cooked for a bit. Then I added the veggies and let the food sit for a few second in between stirring to let the veggies carmelize a bit. I moved the veggies to one side, added seasoned ground pork and cooked through. In went the sauce, and then the noodles, and that was one tasty dish. I really think the key was letting the food sit in the hot wok, but not so long that it burned.
In the meantime, I'll pick up a wok ring and another Ov-Glove to make things a little safer. A long-handled wok would also be ideal.
Klieglight, did you buy your shichirin in an Asian market, or over the internet? I checked them out, and they look really neat. The smaller ones especially seem like they would be convenient and portable, but they don't seem to be readily available.
Thanks again, everyone!
I actually purchased my first shichirin several years ago from Marukai supermarkets in CA, and they graciously shipped it to me in PA. The second one was bought from the Imperial Kamado company, www.imperialkamado.com, but I don't think they carry them any longer since the original owner retired and the distributorship moved to NY state.
The third was an Ebay purchase of a never used shichirin from the 1960's which I keep as a backup
Finally, a Thai version of a similar charcoal brazier perfect for wok cooking is available at Grocery Thai online
Hope this helps!
Oh man, I've been looking for something like a shichirin all last year, not knowing what the name of it was. Most of the ones I found were all sold in the Philippines (including one called the joy charcoal stove). That's when I found out about the "Volcano stove". Not sure how it compares to a shichirin (I'm so glad I know the name of that now!)
Here's the site
Btw, are there any synonyms in other languages for shichirin in case I want to look for one? Like for instance, in a Chinese store. They have a similar thing in Kenya called a "jiko"