April 30

Wok Hai (or Wok Hay) is a Cantonese expression that means, roughly, “breath of the wok.” “Hay” is “Chi” in Mandarin, so it’s as much “energy” or “spirit” as “breath,” but the idea is the same: the food has a particular flavor that can only come from quick cooking in a wok. It’s something I’ve known about for a long time, and it’s one of the qualities that has eluded my Chinese cooking for even longer. No matter how good, it never tasted authentic. Until now. See, our gas range in Brooklyn was OK, but not great. And the execrable piece of shit of a hotplate that came with this house, well, let’s never speak of it again. But the new stove–the gleaming, stainless beast that it is–was the missing ingredient. All of the circular cast-iron grates lift out, allowing a wok to sit down low and get very close indeed to the burner. And when the burner in question is 22,000 BTUs, that wok gets obscenely hot. The thin steel becomes a highly conductive membrane bathed in fire, so your food is cooking right in the flames. It’s bad-ass, and it makes the best Chinese food possible.

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April 28

We’re still sick. It’s not too bad, really–just a cold. But the timing is not…

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