About a dozen women have gathered in a loft house along Miami's New River to attend Eleanor Hoh's Wok Star cooking class. Hoh is a cooking instructor, actress, author of the Wok Star blog, and wok evangelist. Her mission is to spread the gospel of this technologically backward cooking tool that, ironically, can cook anything.
Hoh is a gracious host, serving lettuce wraps and Prosecco to arriving students. I help myself to both and settle in.
Hoh looks like a pixie and speaks with a British accent. She says she'll teach us to cook with no measuring, no recipes, and no calorie counting.
The method she uses is so simple even I know I can follow it at home. Simple tips and tricks become a-ha! moments, like cutting meat and vegetables into like-size pieces so they'll cook evenly, and cooking vegetables before protein to avoid additional cleanup (proteins stick to a wok more than veggies).
The class is participatory, and attendees are given the opportunity to help and be a "wok star." Hoh demonstrates two dishes; students not only learn how to cook them but also eat the results. My turn comes when Hoh shows how to prepare tilapia in spicy brown bean sauce. We cook the vegetables first, lay them on a plate, and then sauté the fish pieces in a brown bean sauce. Hoh is a good teacher, and before I know it, my fish is tender, flaky, and downright delicious.
As with any technique, the devil is in the details -- and in the product, as Hoh points out while extolling the features of the Wok Star kits she sells before, during, and after class. The sales pitch isn't too heavy-handed, and because about half the ladies at the class purchase the kits (containing wok, spatula, various sauces, wok holders, and instructional DVDs), they seem like a good value at $145.
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The session costs $65 and includes lunch, water, and Prosecco.
By the way, I can attest that the techniques are solid. Last night I made a makeshift stir-fry using my old sauté pan and some bok choy, spinach, and oyster mushrooms. I used her recipe for TSPC marinade (you'll have to take the class for the recipe), and my attempt at a jerry-rigged stir-fry proved to be quite delicious. Call me a wok star in training.