East Meets West with this Minnesota Wok
When Aaron Rogers wanted a big cooking platter for the hot coals in his patio pit, he combined two cultural influences to form his creation. Aaron and his wife teach at an international school in Tokyo, and he figured a type of Asian wok would work for the outdoor recipes he had in mind. For the materials, he pulled from his farm roots. His cooking device comes from the disk blades that had once cut through rich Midwest soil.
Aaron and his family spend the summer months along a lake in Minnesota, and they enjoy cooking outside—sometimes for a big gathering. “I can throw 13 or more pork chops on at once,” said Aaron. “Or we can toss in beef and broccoli stir fry ingredients and let it bubble until it’s ready.”
A friend welded metal plugs into the center holes of two disk blades—one larger than the other, so the smaller one works as a lid. A welded-on horse shoe provides a handle, and the metal radiates a steady heat that cooks evenly.
“We’ve even made a wok breakfast with a mass of bacon and eggs cooked to perfection,” said Aaron. He sanded a bit of the sharp edge off the disk blade, but in most respects the cooker is low maintenance. “It’s easy to wipe out clean, but it’s not so simple to move. A bit like a weight-lifting session to get it back in the garage.”
The Rogers’ lakeside home is filled with Japanese artifacts and Midwest heritage; Aaron used part of the barn door from his childhood home to make a display in one room. So it is not surprising that he mixed cultures to satisfy the most basic need: eating. After all, whether it be sukiyaki or prime steak, everything tastes better when cooked over open coals.
by dan gogerty
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