Stir-Fry on an Electric Stove?

Stir-frying requires high heat!
In the early to mid 80’s, we lived in small apartments with small kitchens, and small gas ranges. The 24-inch wide units kicked out a lot of BTUs! The spot in the center, where the pilot light provided an eternal flame, turned the white porcelain glaze yellow, brown, or black (take your pick: I’m not a fastidious housekeeper), but those burners were hot. Those little stoves could also simmer broths at very low gentle temperatures. Even as a beginning cook, I appreciated the versatility: my mother’s electric stove took forever to warm up and then it didn’t get so very hot…
I was disappointed to see an electric stove in our new house. I discovered that new gas stoves have sealed burners, meaning that they can’t get as hot as the little old apartment models! The most expensive professional ranges might have satisfied, but we know how many other things need money in this place!
This stainless steel stove has a black glass top, a “warm and serve” zone, two large expandable burners, and two small ones. It has a regular oven which can be set to “convection,” a “vari broil” broiler, and is “self-cleaning.” Plus it even has a “warm and serve” drawer. So, yes, it is a nice piece of equipment.
Turns out, I can’t really complain! It’s nothing like my mother’s 1960’s electric stove.
My old steel wok won’t work: pots and pans need to have flat bottoms, but I tried this stir-fry using my cast iron frying pan and cast aluminum Dutch oven. This is a recipe I’ve made many times: in this case, my pan was so hot that it easily out-performed the old gas stove in the old house! Plenty of heat! While the wok-shape has its advantages (pushing food up from the center to cook at a lower temperature while the bits in the center cook hot), I was pleased to know I can do a stir-fry here.
Note: My abused Revere-ware pots no longer have flat bottoms and the do rock ‘n’ roll when treated to the glass-top—instead of spending several thousand dollars on a new stove, how much can some new pans set me back?

Links to other posts about Chicken, Cashews, and Miso in a Wok:

Chicken, Cashews, and Miso in a Wok
Nira-reba ItameTori to Kashunattsu no Miso Itame

from: The Japanese Kitchen
•250 Recipes in a Traditional Spirit•
by Hiroko Shimbo
page 414
serves 3 to 4

Velveting the Chicken:

  • 10 to 12 ounces boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1″ cubes
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 Tablespoon sake
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 teaspoons potato starch or cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoons sesame oil
  • pot of boiling water, over high heat

In a medium bowl, toss the chicken with the above ingredients, adding them one at a time and mixing with the chicken. Cover and refrigerate 20 to 30 minutes. Drop the chicken cubes into the boiling water and let them cook just until they turn white. Remove and drain. Use the marinating time to prepare the other ingredients.
The Sauce:

  • 2 Tablespoons akamiso (brown miso)
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons sake

Mix the above ingredients in a cup.
The Vegetables:

  • 4 to 5 akatogarashi (or other small dried red chile peppers)
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 medium onion, cut into thin wedges
  • 3 to 5 scallions, cut into 1″ lengths
  • 1 cup cashews

The Cooking:

  • 2-3 Tablespoons oil
  • about 2 teaspoons tamari

Heat a wok over medium heat. Add the oil, and when it’s hot add the peppers. Stir-fry until the skins darken (seconds!).
Remove the wok from the heat and add the garlic. Stir-fry for 20 seconds.
Add the chicken and stir-fry over high heat for a couple of minutes.
Add the onion, and stir-fry 30 seconds, tossing vigorously.
Add the scallions, and give the pan a few good tosses.
Add the sauce (miso mixture) and stir for a minute.Add the cashews and stir-fry for a minute or two.
Turn off the heat and season to taste with tamari.
Serve with white or brown rice.
Note: I fried the egg-yolk and added that as a garnish…

Stir frying is an umbrella term used to describe two techniques for cooking food in a wok while stirring it: chǎo (炒) and bào (爆).
The chao technique is similar to the Western technique of sautéing. A traditional round-bottom cast iron or carbon steel pan called a wok is heated to a high temperature. A small amount of cooking oil is then poured down the side of the wok (a traditional expression in China regarding this is “hot wok, cold oil”), followed by dry seasonings (including ginger and garlic), then at the first moment the seasonings can be smelled, meats are added and agitated. Once the meat is seared, vegetables along with liquid ingredients (for example often including premixed combinations of soy sauce, vinegar, wine, salt, sugar, and cornstarch) are added. The wok then may be covered for a moment so the water in the liquid ingredients can warm up the new ingredients as it steams off.
The wok is heated to a dull red glow. With the wok hot, the oil, seasonings, and meats are added in rapid succession with no pause in between. The food is continually tossed, stopping for several seconds only to add other ingredients such as various seasonings, broths, or vegetables.

—from Wikipedia


2 thoughts on “Stir-Fry on an Electric Stove?

  1. My cast iron skillet is my favorite pan for making stir-fries. It gets really hot and distributes the heat well.
    Akatogarashi. What a big word for a little chile! I like it. Maybe that would make a good name for your next cat, though too long a name for a little kitty; he could be called Kat for short. :)


    • LOL! Kat… excellent.
      We had a calico cat called Chrysanthemum who we called Santhe.
      Our little black cat, Su (or Sula) looks like a little bear so I thought Ursula Minor would be a good name…

      You are right about cast iron, especially the old stuff. I bought an inexpensive ($5) cast iron Dutch oven to replace my aluminum one. (I had loaned it to my daughter before she went to Spain.) No matter what I did with that thing, I could not get it seasoned! It was made in China—at least the lid fits my 10-inch skillet. And the cast aluminum Dutch oven as well.

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