How to Cook with a Wok

Wok cooking may not be for everyone, simply because many may not own a wok or know how to use it properly. But for those “who own a wok, we salute you!” With a few tips, you may find the process to be easy, fast and one of the best ways to preserve the nutrients of the food.

The first wok goes as far back as the Han dynasty, which is approximately 206 BCE to 200 CE.  Since that time the wok has become a staple in Asian cooking as much as the skillet has become one in southern cooking.  In general Asian food is considered to be quite healthy.  Most of their cuisine contains fresh vegetables, little amounts of meat and are heavily concentrated in fresh fish, spices along with seaweed and rice.  In most traditional Asian household the frying and sautéing is all done in a wok.  The idea is to keep food looking and tasting its freshest and that means preserving the taste.

When it comes to what you use to cook the food, woks require very little when it comes to fat.  Most chefs recommend adding one drop of olive oil that is manipulated to cover the entire service of the center of the wok.  The wok is placed on a direct heat source which then cooks the food.

Woks need a little supplies to go with them.  One of the main thing is the support ring or rack to help stabilize it over the heat source.  From there a lid is recommended.   The lids are used to not only help when the wok is heating up for the first time but can be used during simmering and steaming food.  Spatula and ladles are the utensils of choice in wok cooking.  In many cases these items are made of wood, specifically bamboo, or stainless steel to mix together the food during stir frying.

When It comes to your ingredients there is a rule of thumb to follow, you want to combine ingredients that have little taste but a lot of structure with ingredients that have great taste but little structure.  Some of the more common ingredients that work best in wok cooking include small onions, peppers, mushrooms and tofu.  Two other ingredients that are popular for their texture, taste and look are lemongrass and bamboo shoots.   Lemongrass added to the wok will not only give the dish a bright lemony flavor but it also adds a nice fragrance to the dish.  Bamboo shoots are cut like asparagus and add color to the dish and in some cases a unique flavor.

Some people can be intimidated with wok cooking.  Feeling a bit unsure on their cooking skill and the end result when it comes to taste.  This month Ling and Louie are celebrating Woktober.  The chefs are not only skilled in wok cooking but are experts in the technique and flavors.  The dishes this month are not only savory and in some cases spicy.  Using the wok keeps the ingredients colorful and vibrant and full of flavor.  Next time you crazy a little taste of Asian flare, let us “wok” something up for you.

Let us do the Wokin’!  This month try our new Woktoberfest menu!

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