One of the main advantages of using the Asian-style wok for cooking is that it is considered to be a healthier alternative to cooking with the traditional frying pan.
The wok is flexible and should be essential in every kitchen in every home.
While it is mainly used for stir-frying, the wok can also be used to braise, stew, steam, deep-fry, or smoke, which are all healthier cooking methods.
This guide works to show you what the other advantages of using a wok are, and move you away from just using it to stir-fry.
The Healthy Option
Fundamentally, the wok is a curved shape frying pan which impacts how your food is cooked. The high heat retention that it is capable of, as well as the need for only a little cooking oil, make it a healthier choice.
Additionally, food can be pushed along the sides of the wok, so excess oil can be drained off before serving.
The high sides also mean that you can cook and stir large quantities of food, without the food soaking in the oil or falling out of the pan.
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The conical structure of the wok means heat is dispersed across more surface area than it would with a frying pan. This feature allows meat or vegetables to cook evenly and in just the one pan.
Tougher meat or harder vegetables (things that take longer to cook) should be kept at the bottom of the wok where the hot oil is. Cook them until they are about half done and then you can add the other ingredients to your hot wok. These other ingredients would be delicate seafood or tender vegetables.
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As the final ingredients cook, the ingredients added initially are still cooking too, but they are doing so at a slower rate. This prevents them from overcooking.
As briefly outlined earlier, a benefit of the wok when compared to the standard frying pan, is its larger usable volume.
The higher the edges, the more food you can put into your wok. So, you can easily cook bigger quantities of food and have a variety of delectable leftovers available for your meal tomorrow.
This will also mean you spill food over the pan less, keeping your kitchen cleaner with no food to mop up from your stove.
Tips for Stir-Fry Cooking
Prior to heating your wok, ensure that you have all the ingredients you need cut into bite-sized pieces that are relatively uniform in size. This will assist with even cooking.
When you stir-fry, the process is quick, and ingredients will be added fast. You will not have any time to chop or locate ingredients once you start cooking. Place your ingredients near your stove so they can be quickly added to the hot wok as and when required.
#2 Oil and Heat
The wok should be heated to medium-high heat for 2 or 3 minutes before you add any oil. Once hot enough, you need to pour in about two tablespoons of oil. Then immediately move the oil around the surface of the wok to coat it throughout.
#3 Adding Ingredients
If you plan to use aromatics such as garlic and onion, add the onion to the oil first and stir continuously, cooking until the onion is translucent and soft.
Here is a great source for garlic!
The garlic should then be added but only cook this for up to a minute. Now add your chosen protein such as poultry, meat, or fish. Stir for one to two minutes. Now you can add the hard vegetables. Stir and then add any leafy veggies or other delicate ingredients you want to use.
Using a long spatula, keep your ingredients moving so that nothing overcooks. If you are using a lot of hard vegetables or tough meats, cook the tender items until they are nearly done and transfer them to a bowl while the other vegetables cook.
When you nearly reach the end of your cooking process, you can transfer back the almost cooked items. Now you can finish cooking.
Bonus: Extra uses of a wok
You can use your wok at home for other purposes:
Instead of wrapping tortillas in foil and heating them in the oven, we place our tortillas across the sides and bottom of our wok on low heat. It might be a good idea to first line your wok with aluminum foil or tin foil. By doing this you will keep any tastes from the prior foods cooked in your wok away from your tortillas. They get warm uniformly, without getting burnt.
We recommend keeping your burner on low during your meal, and then you will be able to keep tortillas warm while your family is eating.
You can add that smokey flavor to food without the BBQ. Lining the base of a wok with foil, add the ingredients that you want to use to “smoke”. You can use things like wood chips, spices, fruits, or sugar. Now heat the wok, and the “smoke” ingredients will begin to smoke.
Place a rack over the wok and the ingredients that you want to flavor on the rack. Cover the rack with foil and wait. Once you have smoked the food, finish cooking them in your desired way.
The wok is a highly versatile tool. It can carry a large volume, and the high sides mean that it holds of huge quantity of food or you can stir freely without worrying about food spilling on to the counter.
The wok has been the best investment for my kitchen, due to its adaptability and low cost. Everyone knows that it is an essential tool for a stir-fry, but the other culinary uses that a wok is used for are less well-known.
Get a wok today in order to make your daily meal preparations easier and to keep your kitchen clean and tidy.
If I were to buy just one wok, I would seriously take a look at this wok on Amazon. Even though it has a round bottom, I could still use it on a stove with a wok ring. I just find that round-bottomed woks are easier to cook on for me. I have two of these woks and I just love them. And yes, I would buy them again. It is worth the time to look at them.