Cooking With A Wok

Wok cooking techniques such as stir-frying or searing in very hot oil, is actually the favorite cooking method among home cooks in many parts of Asia. By far the most necessary piece of cooking pots and pans inside their kitchen is the remarkably functional Chinese wok, sometimes referred to as the wok pan or skillet pan, or even as the Asian wok. In our grandma’s time, round bottom cast-iron woks are the norm. Chinese wok cooking has a long history of at least 2000 years. Actually, almost all olden Chinese households merely possess the round bottom wok along with an earthen clay pot, their entire best cookware set, and yet able to dish out tasty, nutritious home cooked meals day in day out.

Precisely why is cooking using a wok so convenient, so simple and so flexible? The key reason lies in its concave shape. The round bottom tip heats up quickly and the heat spreads up the sloping sides, resulting in even heating and good heat retention. Steaming, stir-frying, simmering, braising, cooking all type of sauces, deep-frying and also boiling light soups can all be easily done using the Chinese wok. Only a little bit of oil is required for stir-frying, contributing to a healthier diet.

What is the best wok to buy? The carbon steel wok, stainless steel wok, non-stick, pre-seasoned cast-iron along with electric woks, appeal to modern cooks, due to their ease of use and convenience. Nevertheless, Chinese chefs swear by their simple iron woks which get better through continuous using over time.

Buy the heavy cast-iron wok or stainless steel wok that will not tip over easily, and also hard-anodized non-stick wok that will will not be damaged when used in combination with metal spatula. A well-seasoned carbon steel wok, which is generally inexpensive and light in weight , makes a good non-stick wok. Teflon-coated kinds are not really recommended, mainly because high heat is not recommended for this type of coating, and high heat is essential for stir-frying. Added to that, they scratch easily. Electric stoves fare better with a flat bottom wok whereas a wok ring on top of a gas stove will cater nicely to a round bottom one. The drawback is the fact that the tip of the wok would be somewhat raised above the fire. The nearer the heat source, the higher the heat, and high heat is essential for successful stir-frying.

It is necessary to season a new carbon steel or iron wok, before using it. First of all, wash and rinse it, then apply a layer of vegetable oil all over the surface. Then heat it up for about an hour. The best place would be the oven. The heat allows the oil to penetrate into the iron, creating a natural non-stick surface that gets better with each usage. For those not keen on doing your own seasoning, then buying a preseasoned wok is a better choice. Nevertheless, these kind of woks are inclined to rust very easily, therefore drying it thoroughly after use and seasoning it regularly is a prerequisite for a long shelf life.

Stir-frying is all about high heat, less oil, quick stirring and healthy cooking. Heat up the wok, put in a tablespoonful or two, of oil and then put in the pre-cut ingredients. There should be a sizzling sound each time an ingredient is added. Garlic, onions and ginger are normally added to enhance the flavor of the dish, besides giving an aromatic sensation to the nose. Stir-frying is a quick process and it is important that the ingredients are prepared ahead of time. To ensure even cooking, all ingredients have to be cut to about the same size.