Wok-N-Roll Cafe: Chinese cuisine and global missions mix at youth all-nighter


Sizzling dishes prepared in a wok, like this one at Peking Chinese Restaurant in Columbus, were the stars of the food table at the recent Wok In hosted at Evangel Church.

Sizzling dishes prepared in a wok, like this one at Peking Chinese Restaurant in Columbus, were the stars of the food table at the recent Wok In hosted at Evangel Church. Photo by: Kelly Tippett


Going through the line at the Wok-N-Roll Cafe are, from left, Taylor Burns, Jeremy Davidson (Immanuel High School), Kaitlyn Woolbright (New Hope High School), and Haley Benson (Caledonia High School). Youth leaders serving are Gerald Vest (in red shirt), Karen Perkins and Ellie Bentley. Youth leader Allison Lance is pictured in the back.


Karen Perkins, left, chats with Amanda Grissom as Grissom prepares dishes in woks for the recent youth Wok In hosted at Evangel Church in Columbus.



Jan Swoope



Nothing says "feed me" like 75 hungry teens bent on staying awake all night. And when it came to satisfying those robust appetites, the mood was decidedly Oriental as youth pastors Pat Davidson, Aaron Lane and Tim Bentley joined forces recently for a Wok In with their respective youth groups from Evangel Church and First Assembly of God, in Columbus, and First Assembly of God in Amory.


Building on a theme of global missions and outreach, volunteers prepared Chinese-inspired cuisine in woks. The exotic fare was a hit with the youth, as well as about 20 "brave adult leaders" who "wok-ed around the clock" at Evangel for 13 hours, from 6 p.m. on a Friday night until 7 a.m. the next morning.




Oriental flair


"The menu for the evening featured choices of chicken or beef stir fry and sweet and sour chicken," said Lanita Davidson, who helped organize the event alongside her husband, Pat, and other volunteers. "We had egg rolls and, of course, lots of steamed rice!


"In keeping with the Chinese theme, fortune cookies were offered, but with a twist. Rather than traditional fortune cookies, we had ''future cookies'' -- cookies topped with Scripture to encourage students to become all God says they are and can be."


Any soft cookie will do, homemade or purchased. (Chips Ahoy were used for the Wok In.) Print any encouraging Scriptures or sayings and cut them into strips, fold and secure to the top of each cookie with a toothpick for a variation on a traditional favorite.


"It''s guaranteed to inspire," the Davidson''s agree.


"The students at the Wok In really enjoyed the Chinese flair, as well as more traditional favorites to top off the incredible evening," said Lanita. "Around 2 a.m., our Wok-N-Roll Cafe changed to an ice cream sundae bar stocked full of delicious ice cream and all the toppings."


High spirits were channeled into fun activities like pseudo-sumo wrestling in comically-huge, padded outfits and jousting on inflatables. A praise and worship concert with music by the band Good Bye Sky helped focus on missions.


"Students were challenged to make their lives count for God and others," said Pat Davidson. "All areas of missions, from local ones like Palmer Home for Children and short-term mission trips to places like New York City, were talked about, as well as global outreach to China, Japan, Macedonia, Mexico and Chile.


"We thought it went great; we''re already talking about different themes we might do next time. Lots of fun, fellowship and food helped make the night memorable for all who ''wok-n-wolled!"





2 pounds chicken breast strips


2 pounds beef strips


1 cup soy sauce


1/4 cup olive oil


1 cup chicken broth


Mixed variety of frozen or fresh vegetables (broccoli, carrots, snow peas, water chestnuts; such as oriental stir fry package from Bird''s Eye)


One red onion, sliced


Garlic, to taste


Head of cabbage, chopped



  • Cook meats separately in a wok over medium heat in oil until tender. Add soy sauce and water to the point of sizzle.


  • Add vegetables and stir fry until they reach desired tenderness. Add the broth and let mixture steam for about two minutes before serving over hot steamed or fried rice.






Chicken fingers or nuggets for baking; purchase prepared, or make your own


For the sauce:


1/3 cup white vinegar


4 tablespoons brown sugar


1 tablespoon ketchup


1 tablespoon soy sauce


2 teaspoons corn starch (mixed separately with 4 teaspoons water)



  • Mix all but the cornstarch and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil.


  • Add cornstarch and water mixture to thicken. Stir and cook to desired consistency. Serve with the cooked chicken, pineapple chunks, maraschino cherries and rice.



Wok 101


The wonders of the wok were discovered long ago by the western culinary world. The secret to the efficiency of the traditional Chinese cooking vessel is heat. The round-bottomed shape and sloping sides are configured to heat foods to high temperatures quickly and with little fuel. While most commonly associated with stir-frying, woks can also be used to deep-fry, braise, roast, steam and simmer.


There are a few basic guidelines for all types of wok cooking that should be kept in mind, according to www.howstuffworks.com:



  • Preparation and cooking are two separate procedures. Carefully read the entire recipe before beginning. All ingredients should be prepared before cooking.


  • Attention to the cooking process is crucial because most foods are cooked over intense heat in a matter of minutes. The intensity of the heat used for wok cooking is important. In most cases, easily controlled high heat is needed. For this reason, a gas range with its instant heat control is generally more efficient than an electric range or electric wok.


  • The kind of oil used is also crucial. A vegetable oil that may be heated to a high temperature without smoking is essential. Peanut oil, corn oil and soybean oil all work well. Other kinds of fats, such as olive oil, sesame oil or butter should not be used because they burn easily.


  • When stir-frying, add food pieces in small batches. Most recipes call for stir-frying meat or poultry first, followed by faster cooking vegetables. Cook ingredients until done, keeping them in constant motion by stirring or tossing vigorously. Remove from wok and keep warm, and repeat with remaining ingredients.




Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.


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