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Why Use A Wok?

Updated on April 27, 2015

Food, Culture and Lifestyle. A Flavalady Company


I have used a wok for as long as I can remember.

Over the years, I have had several conversations with colleagues and customers alike about the many benefits of using a wok to prepare certain foods; I now have an opportunity to share that information. In retrospect, I do not remember exactly why or when the wok became a “must have” in my kitchen, but it was quite a while ago, I am sure.

I heavily rely on having a wok available because it makes my job easier on more than one level: in addition to helping me prepare dishes, it cuts down on splattering, which reduces clean-up time. I own a small collection of woks, different make and sizes, which I use intermittently to experiment with cooking different foods and using different methods to affect different textures.

For example, I use a wok to sauté fresh produce, especially leafy vegetables such as kale, chard, cabbage and spinach. Due to its round bottom, the wok heats up rapidly and requires only a minimal amount of oil in which to cook food, resulting in a texture that is crunchy and chewy—exactly how vegetables should be eaten. When it comes to making an awesome stir-fry, the wok is unbeatable. Also, a little-known fact about the wok is that it is great for deep frying and steaming certain foods.

HELPFUL HINTS

Before cooking with a wok, it is important to have all the ingredients chopped, diced and placed within reach, along with the dry seasoning, sauces and oil needed. This way, once the wok is hot, you can promptly begin cooking without running the risk of burning the oil.

Be prepared to continually stir and move the food around to ensure it is cooked evenly and to avoid scorching.

ADVICE FOR PURCHASING AND MAINTENANCE

Managing a wok takes a bit of knowledge, so it is essential to read and follow the packaging instructions. Proper maintenance will also serve you well in having a lasting wok.

HOW TO CHOOSE A BETTER WOK

I have collected woks over the years, and I do have a favorite: the northern style wok, which has a long wooden handle on one side and a shorter handle on the opposite, allowing for excellent maneuverability. The finish is carbon steel, it has a round bottom, and it measures approximately 14 inches in diameter. The wooden handles have the propensity to burn over time, and one way to avoid that is to control the reach of the flames.

STAINLESS STEEL FINISH

These woks are not a favorable choice as they are slow to heat, foods have a tendency to stick to their bottoms, and they are generally difficult to work with.

CAST IRON WOKS

The main problem with cast iron woks is their weight, making them cumbersome and tricky to maneuver. However, if you choose to use one, be sure to wash it in soapy water after each application, and fully dry and grease the inside with a drop of vegetable oil.

A WOK VS THE ELECTRIC STOVE

If you have an electric stove, using a wok will not serve you well because both the bottom of the wok and the stove’s burner are flat, producing too much heat and therefore increasing the chances of burning the food. Under these circumstances, using a wok ring will not make much difference. My take on using a flat-bottom wok is that it defeats the purpose of stir-frying. If the bottom is flat, it will restrict your ability to move the food around quickly enough to avoid singeing it and to finish with the proper texture of a perfect stir-fry dish.

Bring more joy into your kitchen: get a wok and roll it out!

Viva la diferencia

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