The Wok

The wok is an indispensable utensil in Chinese and Southeast Asian cooking. As Far Eastern cuisine became popular through its delicious recipes and wide variety of tastes and textures, so has the wok. The round shape, depth and balance make the wok one of the best designed and practical cooking utensils of all time. It fits perfectly with modern life, allowing the preparation of a variety of tasty recipes within minutes, preserving the freshness of flavour, colour and aroma of the ingredients. And if you want low calorie hot meals and fast, then its the best utensil you can buy. The wok is a very versatile kitchen utensil. You can braise, deep-fry, poach, saute and stir-fry almost every ingredient you wish, be it fish, flesh or fowl.... or even vegetable!

- Select & prepare your wok carefully -

The wok comes in many sizes and is made with many types of materials, from the humble non-carbon steel to stainless and now state of the art metallic alloys. It comes either with two short, ear like handles, or with one long handle and one short one. It also comes in different depths, from the ‘Swallow’ to well-rounded and deep. Next to the original round bottom, a flat bottom variety has emerged for use on electric stoves. Most cooks do not like to stir-fry with a flat bottomed wok as it is a real challenge. Make sure you are well advised by your local store when you buy. 
Along with the wok you will need a spatula to toss the ingredients when stir-frying. Unless you're using a teflon wok, a stainless steel spatula is preferred. Otherwise use a wooden or plastic one. If you're experienced you can even use chopsticks .

- How to season a wok -

1. Thoroughly wash a new wok with hot water and a little detergent. Rinse well.

Wipe off liquid from the surface and heat the wok to a medium heat on the stove.

3. Fold a paper towel into a small pad and soak it with vegetable oil.

Wipe the wok until the inside surface is completely covered with a thin film of oil.

Switch to a clean paper towel and continue wiping the wok.

6. Allow to cool, and your new wok is now ready for use.

After each use, fill the wok with hot water to soak. Later scrub it with a non-abrasive cleaning pad. Repeat steps 2,3,4,5 before storing the wok. (Never scrub your wok with an abrasive cleanser, as this will damage the surface. Do not put your wok in the dishwasher. If rust appears or the wok is accidentally cleaned in the dishwasher, simply re-season it, being careful to remove all the rust.)

- How to stirfry -

The key to a succesful stir-fry is the temperature -The round bottom ensures the ingredients all remain in the centre where the heat is most intense. You MUST stir fry on the highest heat possible – this means oils have to be on the point of smoking.

1. Prepare your ingredients ahead of time.

2. Heat your wok.

3. Add a good amount of vegetable oil to the wok (3-5 tablespoons) 

4. Turn the heat on highest and wait until it begins to smoke.

5. Fry your spices first, such as garlic, ginger or chillies

6. Add other ingredients according to their density. Heavy ones first - but always stir-fry meat first.

7. Add in your seasonings such as salt, hot sauce etc.

8. Stir-fry only to the point where the ingredients are just cooked and no longer and serve immediately!

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