3

How to Cook with a Wok

Wok dishes are the hallmark of Chinese cuisine and Asian cuisine in general. To cook them, you need a special wok pan. This blog post will be devoted to this kitchen utility, as well as how to cook with a wok.

The classic Chinese wok has a round shape, a convex bottom, high and thin walls. It is made of cast iron or carbon steel and has one or two handles. In China, they often cook on special burners, in the center of which there is a semicircular notch. With its help, the wok gains stability, and the powerful flame heats the walls quickly and evenly.

For ordinary home cooking, a special household, also called European, wok with a flat bottom is manufactured. This wok is suitable for standard gas and induction cookers. These pans are generally made of carbon steel (black or blue), aluminum, or stainless steel and are seasoned with a non-stick coating. They come with one long or two short handles.

What is a wok pan used for? The answer is simple. You need a wok to cook quickly. Cooking in a wok usually takes less than 15 minutes, so as a result, you will get the food that is:

Useful: Food cooked in a wok turns out to be healthier than in a regular pan since the ingredients are fried for 1-3 minutes. With such a quick heat treatment, the food does not lose vitamins and nutrients. Not greasy: To fry all the ingredients of the dish, a tablespoon of oil is enough, and in cases of cooking fatty meat, you can do without oil at all. Crunchy and aromatic: Meat and vegetables, when quickly roasted, acquire a dense crispy crust and an appetizing appearance.

Besides, in a wok, you can cook in a variety of ways - from stir-frying to smoking, steaming, braising, and more. After reading why so many professional and amateur chefs prefer woks to more commonplace approaches to cooking, you might have already decided to get a wok for yourself. So, keep reading to know more about the possible ways of cooking with a wok.

Wok: What Are We Actually Talking about?

It is believed that food cooked in a wok is distinguished by its taste and naturalness. The cooking time is much shorter, and the food retains more vitamins. However, choosing a wok is not as easy as using it. It is necessary to take into account many parameters and especially the purpose. The taste and aroma of the prepared dishes will largely depend on this.

A wok is truly versatile for cooking. Wondering what to cook in a wok? You can prepare absolutely any food and even porridge. The wok can be used as a deep fat fryer. The most popular way is stir-fry: frying with constant stirring, which is suitable for cooking noodles with vegetables. However, ordinary frying is also one of the methods of cooking in this utensil. So, let us dwell in more detail on the most common ways of preparing food with the help of a wok and provide you with useful tips on how to cook with a wok.

Stir-Frying

It is one of the most common methods of preparing food in a wok. Well, it is quite logical since this utensil is the best option to choose for cooking dishes by the stir-frying method.

This cooking technique is absolutely incompatible with large portions. If you overfill the wok, the food will be stewed rather than fried. Fast frying in a wok with constant stirring gives food a special flavor - wok hei. A dish is considered to be cooked correctly if it has this flavor. You can get it by strictly observing two conditions:

by strongly heating the surface of the wok, and leaving enough space in the pan for stirring the ingredients.

Ideally, the diameter of a stir-frying wok should not exceed 40 cm. Here are the main recommendations to follow:

You need to do everything quickly. Prepare all the ingredients and the necessary equipment in advance and arrange them so that, if necessary, you can easily reach them. Dry the food and make sure there is no excess moisture on the surface. Water droplets can spoil the overall picture, preventing the formation of a golden color. For convenience, all components of the dish can be decomposed separately: the main ingredients, seasonings, and sauce. Stir-frying requires maximum preheating. The pan should literally be smoking. The oil that is resistant to high temperatures is suitable for wok. The best options are peanut and sesame oil, as well as avocado oil. You need a small amount of oil for cooking.

Steaming

Steamed products retain not only their natural color, smell, shape, and taste, but also most of the trace elements and vitamins contained in the raw product. The method is suitable for those who follow a strict or healthy diet. For steam cooking, it is better to use a wok with two handles so that it is convenient to place a steamer or a special grid on it.

How to cook with a wok on the steam? Here are the steps

Add water to the wok so that there is 2-3 cm left to the wire rack or to the bottom of the bamboo steamer. Place the products in a chaotic manner and cover the steamer with a lid, if this is a wire rack, then cover the entire wok. Steaming is best over medium heat for 30 minutes to two hours, depending on the type of food you are cooking, periodically adding water.

Braising

Braising is very quick in the wok. Stewed food that does not cook well with the quick stir-frying method, such as hard vegetables (potatoes, carrots, and celery). Lightly fry all the ingredients before adding the water. Then they are left to simmer over with low heat.

The stewing time depends on the type of vegetables and takes from 3 to 30 minutes. If the dish is stewed without a lid, then the liquid evaporates, and meat, fish, and vegetables become more tender, and the sauce will be more concentrated and spicy. Remember to stir the ingredients from time to time to prevent them from sticking to the edges of the wok. It is best to season stews shortly before serving them. The flavor of the seasoning is enhanced by the evaporation of the liquid.

Deep-Frying

To cook vegetables or fish in batter in a wok, you need a high temperature and a lot of oil or vegetable fat. Deep-frying is as popular in Asia and Europe alike. And with a wok, things get much easier:

Heat enough oil or vegetable fat to about 170 degrees and fry the pieces in hot oil until they turn brownish golden. Remove the pieces from the wok with a slotted spoon, blot off excess fat with a paper towel and your meal is ready.

Use a special thermometer to measure the oil temperature. You can also dip the spoon back down into hot oil. If small bubbles appear, then the oil temperature is about 180 degrees.

Indoor Smoking

Smoking is one of the ancient methods of cooking food, which increases its shelf life and gives it a special mouth-watering specific flavor, for which smoked products are so valued. In Chinese cuisine, smoking is used everywhere, but smoked dishes are especially common in the North and Northeast of China. They smoke fish, meat, poultry (chicken, duck), wings, pork ribs, sausages, tofu, eggs. Even those products that do not need to be cooked are smoked, for example, salt, cheese, and even cocktails, which gives them a smoked taste and aroma.

To smoke a product at home according to Chinese recipes, it is not necessary to purchase a smokehouse. A wok will successfully cope with this task. How to cook with a wok?

Use foil to place the smoking mixture in the wok. It is much more convenient to buy a container made of foil for baking, but if they are not at hand, you can make them yourself. This will be a container with sides, a kind of cup where you need to place the mixture for smoking.

The ingredients of the mixture (tea leaves, or sugar, or flour) are evenly mixed and placed in a foil container. Then a foil cup must be tightened with foil on top, pressing the edges well so that the container becomes closed. Make a lot of holes in the top of the foil so that they let through the smoke. The process of preparing a container with a mixture is similar to preparing a bowl for tobacco when lighting a hookah.

The bowl containing the smoking mixture is placed in the wok and the wok is placed over high heat. Put a rack for grilling and deep fat in the wok, so that you can then place food on it directly above the smoke from the container. To prevent the food from sticking to the grill during smoking, it must be greased with oil in advance. Place food to be smoked on the wire rack - wings, ribs, fish, tofu, sausages, and so on, depending on your recipe. Cover the wok with a lid. Smoke products for 15 minutes or more, according to the recipe - the time of heat treatment with smoke depends on the product itself.

For the products to have a beautiful dark color on both sides after smoking, they must be turned over on the wire rack in the middle of the process. The color saturation of the prepared product also depends on the smoking time - it can be from pale amber to dark brown.

Dry-Frying

Another cooking method for which a wok is a perfect utensil is dry frying. As the name suggests, this preparation method foresees that vegetables or meat will be cooked at moderately hot temperatures making the moisture evaporate from them.

Then, a lot depends on the final results a cook expects. In the majority of cases, the food that has been dried is stir-fried with ingredients that will add flavor to the dish. For instance, if you have dry-fried beef, then stir-fry it with garlic, dried hot chili peppers, and Sichuan peppercorns. As a result, you will get well-seasoned and aromatic meat, which is soft and chewable.

Conclusion

The wok pan is versatile cookware that can replace numerous pots, pans, and other kitchen utensils. You can prepare a variety of delicious dishes in it. From the blog post, you have already familiarized yourself with various methods of cooking with a wok and the benefits of this utensil cannot be overestimated.

Undeniably, the selection of the wok is one of the most crucial stages because the quality and the correct material choice define how well you are going to cope with the wok cooking tips we have provided. Therefore, finding the manufacturer of high-quality wok pans is essential to be satisfied with the cooking process.

However, keep in mind that keeping a wok in its proper condition, it will be necessary to:

correctly clean and wash it, as well as follow the necessary steps of seasoning a wok pan.

Besides, storing is also specific and depends on how often you are going to cook with a wok. And this is probably one of the few disadvantages this cookware has got.

But remember that with a wok, your food will be delicious, healthy, and full of nutrients, while cooking time will be shortened considerably. Therefore, the need to carefully clean, season, and store it is paid off. Enjoy your meals!

garlic garlic big_pepper.png big_pepper.png big_pepper.png limes limes

Recommended products

More from Blog

What to do with burnt-on food stuck to the surface

Cooking on high-heat is challenging, but burnt food stuck to the surface is normal. Watch the video and cook on high heat without worries.

Wok: All You Need to Know About This Cookware

Why food sticks – egg test

Wok and egg test - failed or passed? Watch the video and try with your carbon steel wok or pan.

How to Restore Carbon Steel & Cast Iron Pans

How to season the WOK (advanced method)

In this video, we offer a simple and easy way with oil and vegetables. Especially good for a new wok. The vegetables will help to eliminate the metallic taste of new wok.

Carbon Steel: The Kitchen Investment of a Lifetime