When I was in middle school (but it was called junior high back then) my parents decided to take a cooking class together. They choose an introductory Chinese cuisine class…. But we all called it wok school. They would come home from the class and tell us all the things they learned like the right temp for the wok and why peanut oil was the ‘oil of choice’. One night they learned how to make shrimp chips. These are very common where I grew up in Ohio and came with soup at most Chinese restaurants, but they don’t seem as popular where we currently live.
When you buy them to cook at home, shrimp chips come in a small packet and look like limp potato chips. My parents carefully set their electric wok to the correct temp, measured out the right amount of peanut oil and we waited with anticipation for the oil to warm. They wanted my sisters and I to give them our undivided attention while we waited because they said it would be exciting. As a teenager, I felt it was as boring as watching paint dry. My parents chatted about their class and even as a kid I could tell that it was in my best interest to hang around and wait to find out why they were so excited.
When the oil was finally hot my Dad took a handful of the limp chips and tossed them into the oil. They immediately made a huge “Puff” and filled the wok. It was pretty impressive…. I always loved those chips and have taken my kids to Wah Fu’s… their favorite Chinese place while I was growing up. When I am there, I think of them- so happy showing us their wok skills and knowing all the ins and outs of the menu. They went back and took the “advanced” Chinese cuisine course too but none of the things they made were as impressive as those chips. J