Years ago, someone gave me a wok as a gift. It wasn`t all that good, being made of thin steel. And it was a non-stick type, coated with something that came off easily. Since I wasn`t much into Chinese cooking, I didn`t really care, and figured I`d use the wok once in awhile.
Over time, I`d try various stir-fry recipes, but my main reason for buying from a Chinese restaurant was beef-fried rice. So I`d try making it in the wok at home, over and over again. And repeatedly, I was disappointed.
I concluded that some things you just have to buy from someone else.
Fast forward to a time when YouTube includes videos of just about anything. Recipe sites, cooking sites, instruction sites are everywhere, and once again, I thought about trying to make fried rice.
Looking at some videos, some from right in a restaurant kitchen, I began to see that a heavy, carbon steel wok was an important thing. In mine, being so thin, the metal quickly heated up to very high temps. But as soon as I put food into the wok, the temperature just as quickly dropped to "stewing" levels.
Kathy and I were out and about, stopping in at a resale shop. By gosh, there was a 14" carbon steel wok, going for $3. It was in great shape, and originally had a non-stick covering that had been scratched off with use. Since we didn`t want the coating, that was fine.
The videos we watched also showed a secret ingredient: sesame oil! Hoo-Hah! You sprinkle some at the end of the process, and it makes for a texture thing.
Then we found out how to make really good long-grain rice. I ended up reading a whole scientific white paper on rice, because I`m me. And I learned I was using a little too much water. So now we had great day-old rice, sesame oil, and all we needed was the type of meat.
All these recipes say, "add the meat." But what KIND of meat! Turns out it`s flank steak, cut very thin.
The last couple of days, we`ve made home-made Chinese beef fried rice, and it`s as close as I can imagine to restaurant quality and taste. Perfectomundo, to use foreign language terms!
I think I can make a case that cooking is a metaphor and analogy for life itself. That, and business. You can go cheap, but if you`re not able to do what ought to happen, then you quit or give up.
But I`ll tell ya, that fried rice sure is excellent! :-)