I have an electric wok, which was one of the first presents I got when I moved out of my parents’ home. I have it still and it’s always been a welcome addition to any household I’ve been a part of, save for one.
As I was moving into one of the countless shared apartment situations that make up young adulthood, my roommate seized upon the wok as the funniest object I owned. Apparently, her ex had been given one, and after getting rid of it as quickly as possible, made it into a running joke about déclassé appliances.
Well, maybe there’s no place for an electric wok in the vast suburban kitchens we grew up with, but in the tiny urban apartments of our present, I loved it. I’ve never used it for stir-frying, though it would work perfectly well. For me, it was just the thing for a party.
I loved throwing buffet-style potluck dinners and my stovetop and oven would be full of dishes simmering, stewing, baking, and steaming. The wok would be over on the dining room table, filled with Anne Lindsay’s Moroccan Chicken Stew or a fish stew from the same cookbook, happily simmering unattended.
I used to make the same stew in vast quantities when I was one of the only ones in my university crowd who knew how to cook. It would keep us all going for a week, and when the chicken ran out, I’d sauté cubes of tofu in the same spices and add them to the pot. At the end of the week, if there was any broth left over, I’d use it as the base of a clean-out-the-fridge soup.
This week’s recipe put me in mind of that stew, just as Dorie’s Lamb and Dried Apricot Tagine did a few months ago. Her take on these flavours includes harissa, which wasn’t on my radar way back then, but brings a welcome heat. I also enjoyed the turnips in this dish, instead of the sweet potatoes that I’d usually reach for with these spices.
I often add dried apricots or currants to a dish like this, but am out of both, so instead stirred in a small spoonful of apricot jam just before serving. It balanced the flavours almost as well as the fruit would have done. It also added another lovely note to the stew’s aroma, which included hints of saffron, ginger, and cinnamon, too.
Since it was just me eating this dish, I halved the recipe and made couscous to go with it. I’ll still be eating my way through the leftovers for a day or two, which is okay, since the flavour keeps improving with time. I won’t be stretching it out with tofu, though. I think I’ll save that for a vegan version I can eat with Kevin, and serve it with quinoa.
Though I didn’t need it this week, I’m hanging onto my electric wok, in anticipation of gatherings to come. And for the record, I’m also awfully fond of my stand alone steamer.
You can find links to the rest of the French Fridays crew’s posts on this week’s recipe here: Chicken Couscous.