Cooking in a small space

It’s possible to make some really amazing meals in a small room even if it doesn’t have a kitchen. All you need is a power outlet and a nearby water source such as a sink. While I love my kitchen with its counters and full sink and gas range with oven, I have fond memories of cooking in my dorm.

Provided you can safely get away with having one, an electric wok is a great choice for cooking in a small space. It’s deep enough you can use it as a steamer, just put a round rack in the bottom with a shallow layer of water, put the food on the rack and close it tightly. That way you can steam vegetables, dumplings, fish, bread, and any number of things. You can make stews in the electric wok because of its depth, you can fry, and you can of course use it for normal wok things like stir frying. This one item, plus a small cutting board, a good knife, and a cube fridge will allow you to do some amazing things. Having a couple of metal bowls also improves your abilities tremendously.

Some writers have also talked about crock pot cooking, making omelettes in a waffle iron, and making grilled cheese sandwiches or fried bacon with a clothes iron and aluminum foil. However, for sheer versatility I think the electric wok is still the best!

I once steamed a cake in my wok. I used a metal mixing bowl for the pan.

My best meal was probably steamed salmon, cooked on a bed of baby bok choy, served over rice. The salmon cooked on the bok choy in the wok.

Once I turned the wok into a double boiler and melted chocolate in it- using the venerable metal bowl.

I cooked eggs in it, fried bacon, made pancakes, as well as countless soups, stews and stir fries. This saved me money because I didn’t have to eat at the cafeteria every time I wanted something, and gave me hours of fun. I also had some pretty spectacular failures due to some overly adventurous taste buds.

There are two secrets to using an electric wok for cooking: planning ahead so everything can be cooked in the right order, and always using utensils of wood, metal, and other heat resistant materials. That way bowls can double as pans, and you have more versatility.