The Wonderful Wok — Smoky Grilled Tofu and Stir-Fried Vegetable Fathers’s Day Dinner

Thirty or thirty-five years ago, during one of our early visits to San Francisco, we discovered  the marvelous Wok Shop and purchased the wok we have used ever since.

wok 2-44

Father’s Day is a great time to putter around in the kitchen, so I decided to make a stir fry in my wok, using some of the vegetables I picked up at the market today.  When I really get into cooking, I don’t take the time to photograph the food, so you will have to imagine what the dish looked like, but I will describe the steps involved.


  • one onion – 1/2 of it chopped into a medium dice, 1/2 cut vertically into slivers
  • 1/3 of a head of cabbage (left in the fridge) – cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot – peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces with an Asian-style diagonal cut
  • a handful of green beans, washed, stemmed and cut the same way
  • 2 spring onions, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • two garlic scape coils –  cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2-3 cups of young mustard greens –  coarsely chopped
  • 5 fresh Shitake mushrooms – de-stemmed and tops cut in 1/4 inch slices
  • 2 scallions – cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • some leftover brown rice, if you have any, reheated with a little stock
  • 1 block of tofu – 12 to 16 oz. – washed, dried, cut into two 1-inch thick blocks
  • marinade for the tofu – from this recipe for Smoky Grilled Tofu with Hoisin sauce
  • prepare the sauce for the dish – 1.25 cups of vegetable stock, 1/2 cup hoisin sauce, 3 Tbs. organic tamari sauce, 1 heaping Tbs. cornstarch, 1 Tbs. dry sherry, and a few pinches of garlic powder — stir all together and let sit

Cook and Assemble

  • first, I heated the gas grill to hot, and carefully grilled the tofu blocks, which had been marinating for an hour
  • then I placed the tofu pieces on a plate and put them in a 225º F oven to keep warm
  • the stir fry proceeds in layers, with the contents removed from the wok into bowls, between each step
  • I use 1-2 Tbs. of safflower or peanut oil at each stage
  • Layer 1: heat wok on high, add the oil and place diced onions and — a minute later — the cabbage.  Stir fry on high heat until beginning to brown.  Lower the heat slightly, cover and cook until barely tender.  Remove to bowl.
  • Layer 2: heat wok on high, add the oil and place slivered onions, spring onions, chopped garlic and ginger, and cook until very fragrant.  Add carrot and green beans and continue cooking, covered for part of the time, until barely tender.  Add mustard greens, and cook until wilted.  Remove to bowl.
  • Layer 3: heat wok on high, add the oil and then fry the shitake slices until lightly browned on all sides.  Remove to bowl.
  • Reduce the sauce:  heat the wok on high, then add the sauce.  Cook on high heat until it is reduced by about two-thirds,  It should have clarified and thickened.
  • Assemble: still on high heat, add the cabbage and onions to the sauce, stir and cook a minute or two, then add all the other cooked vegetables.  Now add the chopped scallions, stir and heat until the dish is well-blended.
  • Reheat the brown rice.


  • place some of the rice in a large Chinese bowl and top with the stir fry
  • top with the tofu, cut into thirds for each of the two blocks — remember, it’s in the oven?
  • serve with a cold beer, or — in my case — a glass of 2003 Barranc — a Spanish white wine from Priorat, and a very nice complement to the dish.

Barranc Dels Closos Blanc

Enjoy being a father — with a great wok, fine vegetables, and a well-stocked cellar.

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