March 2005


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Frizzen Sparks: Carnival of the Campfires Archives

Here’s my two cents for the Carnival: Stir Fry

3 cups white rice
1 lb. beef, chicken or pork
1 stalk celery
1 green pepper
1 small yellow onion
1 large carrot

Grau is right that a Dutch Oven is a necessity for good camp cooking, and here’s another tip for you: buy a good wok.

The wok has been around for centuries, for the same reasons as your grandmother’s cast-iron skillets: a good wok is cast-iron, too. Once it’s properly seasoned, it’s non-stick, easy to clean, and is designed to be used right on the coals. If you’re an anachronist like Grau and I, you’ll have to check to see if wok cooking is ‘period’ for you, but I say go for it anyway.

Now, the hardest part about doing stir-fry is getting the rice right. With some experimentation, the rice can be cooked ahead of time at home, and then re-heated on site with little fuss. If you’re doing it all on the fire, though, it can be tricky. You must have a good, solid pot (not too thick) with a tight lid. You will also need to regulate two areas of the fire – one hot, one cooler.

Put 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 cups of water in for every cup of rice – I use three cups of rice for my standard serving. On a hotter part of the fire, bring this to a boil, then cover with the lid and move to the cool side to simmer for about 12 minutes. DO NOT CHECK THE RICE – just pull it off the fire and let it sit for another 5-10 minutes before you remove the lid. There’s steam in there which is finishing off the cooking process. Let out the steam, and your rice won’t cook evenly.

Now for the easy part: gather up about a pound of beef, pork or chicken and a handful or two of your favorite veggies. Chop it all into smallish bits, keeping the meat separate. The pile of meat and the pile of veggies should be about the same size, but you want to stop here and make sure it will all fit into your wok with room to stir – it sucks to have it all fly out into the fire.

Season the meat with whatever you like – McCormick’s makes a great line called “Montreal Steak” or “Chicken” that works good, plus I throw in some Lowry’s and a dash of good soy sauce. Stick the wok in the fire with a tablespoon or so worth of oil (I use the Tsang’s Wok Oil from the Asian isle at my grocers’) and let it heat for about a minute. If the oil starts to smoke, you’ve gone too far and need to cool the pan down and start over.

When the wok reaches temp, toss in the meat and sear it, stirring almost constantly. When it looks about half-cooked, throw in the veggies and keep stirring. Continue cooking until the meat is to taste, then either pull from the fire, or pour in some sauce if you don’t like it dry. Bring the sauce almost to a boil before serving. I like my veggies crunchy, so I wait a little longer before I put them in.

When you pull it from the fire, cover it and let it rest for about 5 minutes before serving, same as the rice. This lets everything absorb the remaining heat evenly.

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