The New Year is a common time to adjust our eating habits for the healthier, whether it’s on the heels of an indulgent holiday season or a future long-term commitment we make with ourselves. Serendipitously, I was recently invited to attend the cooking class of Eleanor Hoh, aka the Wok Star, who has been part of Miami’s culinary tapestry for many years, wherein I learned that I should be cooking in a wok more often.
Eleanor was born in China and educated at a boarding school in Great Britain (which is clear from her lovely accent). All those years of poor quality, bland English-style food, motivated her to learn all she could from her mother’s Asian cooking once she returned home to Hong Kong. “I cook from instinct, not from a recipe book”, is the challenge we are first presented with that evening, “my mother never measured and therefore neither do I”.
Now, like many of us, I own a wok but use it rarely and feel I am pretty good at basic stir-fry. I was wrong on all fronts I learned, after three hours with Eleanor that evening: my wok is sub par, I should cook this way more often AND my techniques needed serious updating.
Held in the very sleek ALNO Kitchen showroom in the Design District, Eleanor begins by introducing the 10 or so person group, which that evening consisted largely of locals plus Bravo TV celeb, Adrienne Gang, Chef and Chief Stewardess on the reality, show Below Deck. Then, what unfolds is a series of tips and techniques that, if you are not familiar with the hacks of Asian cooking, you should be because they can really compliment your home cooking game.
Eleanor explains that her cooking class is designed to expose the new or experienced cook to basic Asian cooking techniques and to do so in an interactive yet simple way. She strives to make wok cooking simple and easy to do and for attendees to leave with the skills to make quick, healthy meals in about 30 minutes at home.
I left that evening with two major take-aways. The first was that after learning such things as Asian chopping styles, wok-cooking order of operations, key ingredients, gas flame management and the right tools, Eleanor has very complete Wok cooking kits to purchase at the end of the class that include the thin-gauge, cast iron wok and lid, portable, butane, single burner gas stove, wok spatula, basic ingredient basket that fits neatly into your fridge and technique sheets. It’s really perfect for those of us who have only induction burners at home with the inferior, flat-bottomed woks.
The second take-away reminded me of Michael Pollan’s introduction to his well know documentary, In Defense of Food, “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants”. As we know well, wok cooking incorporates a lot of vegetables, a little protein and sauce. I strive to eat more vegetables, especially from local farmers and I was reminded that wok cooking is a great way to do that.
So, I did buy the kit that evening and look forward to cooking some great, healthy meals in it, thanks to the Wok Star!
Current upcoming dates at ZONIN 1821 Wine loft in MiMo include Tuesday February 16th (makes a great Valentines Day gift!) and Tuesday March 15th both classes from 6:30-9:30 pm. And just added new venue, BOFFI, Italian kitchen showroom in Design District, on Saturday. February 6th, 10 am-1 pm, and Thursday March 31st , 6:30-9:30pm. More dates to come as well at ALNO Kitchens. Check back on MIAbites or on Wokstar site. All inclusive with wine, the classes are priced at $85 pp.
For more information about upcoming classes and to register, visit Eleanor’s Wok Star website at http://eleanorhoh.com/