You Can Tell By The Way I Use My Wok

Yesterday evening around 5:30, hard at work in the studio, I realized that I needed to go in the house and make dinner or there would be hell to pay. I was not pleased about it, so I was grouchy, and the relative shortness of time made it even less relaxing. Fortunately, a well-stocked pantry came to the rescue as it so often does.

The key elements were a package of rice noodles and a can of coconut milk. I like these noodles for a lot of reasons, not least that they can just be soaked in hot water while you get everything together and then tossed in whatever you’re making to finish cooking at the very end. I began by throwing a cut-up head of cauliflower into the oven, tossed lightly with olive oil, salt, and smoked paprika. This is my current go-to configuration for cauliflower. I bumped the heat a bit, and turned on the fan, because time was tight and I wanted it tender as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, I got chopped onion and chard going in a pan, then added spices and pastes: grated ginger and turmeric, tamarind paste, curry powder, fish sauce, green chili paste, and the can of coconut milk. I let it all simmer for a bit, until the greens weren’t so green any more, then stick-blended it all into a fragrant purée and returned it to the heat until the cauliflower was done. I threw the soaked noodles into the hot wok, tossed them with the purée, and slid them into a serving bowl. Cauliflower on top, then some scallions, and dinner was served.

Not the prettiest thing in the world, but it tasted really good, and was coloristically pretty reflective of the season; as the snow melts and the ground begins to soften in the afternoons, I see wild garlic and daffodils starting to poke up in the warmer southern-facing spots that always go off first. It’s also worth mentioning the $10 Dr. Loosen Mosel riesling we had with this, which was a lip-smacking match. Plenty of acidity and subtle sweetness make it perfect for this kind of bright, spicy food, and at 8.5% alcohol it’s basically a soft drink.

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Yours Truly



I'm a painter who happens to also spend a lot of time growing, making, and writing about food. I'm particularly interested in the intersection of frugal peasant cooking techniques and haute improvisation. And I have a really great personality.

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