CHENGDU — Maybe I let the cooking oil become so hot it reached its flash point, or maybe I splashed oil onto the burner. One thing is certain: I have a fire in my wok, and it’s embarrassing. Now our chef-instructor must drop his ladle and strainer and hurry over with a cover to smother the leaping flames.
A fellow student, a talented home cook from Seattle, suffers his own humiliation. A second of hesitation at his wok on this, our first day of class, and he’s watching his dry-fried green beans turn to charcoal.