No matter your cooking ability, a wok is an essential kitchen accessory. This humble-looking appliance is indispensable.
The wok could well be the best investment you ever make for your kitchen, due to its adaptability and low cost.
To most of you, it will be evident that it is an essential tool for a stir-fry, but you probably don’t know the many other culinary uses that a wok is used for.
Not sure how else to use a wok besides making a stir-fry? Read on, and you will find new ways to use this underrated kitchen pan.
We avoided deep-frying at home whenever we could. We didn’t have a proper deep-fryer, so the exercise always became messy and wasted copious amounts of cooking oil for just a handful of fries — until we realized that we could use a wok to deep-fry.
While we associate this conical shaped pan with stir-frys, we neglect its myriad of other possibilities, including that they make the experience of frying foods much more enjoyable and pleasant.
If you’ve ever attempted to fry anything in a Dutch oven or a large pot, you’ve already seen that it creates a lot of oil splatter, which jumps from the inside of the pan onto all your clean walls and surfaces. As the wok’s sides come out, it’s equipped for preventing those oil splatters, making a huge difference to your cleanup time.
If you find that you are wasting loads of oil at the end, a wok prevents an excessive amount of burnt bits from lingering at the bottom of your pan. You know what we mean.
The way they congregate in the corners of a deep pot. If you strain out the burnt bits as you see them, the oil will stay cleaner, and then you can use it a few more times before you need to discard it.
The wide opening brings about another advantage with deep-frying in a wok. This gives the oil bubbles the space to dissipate, so no boiling over. So those potentially hazardous and messy situations are now less likely.
Steaming is an easy and nutritious way to cook vegetables. Basically, you cook food on a perforated surface like a steamer basket. The surface is set over simmering water and enclosed.
The wet heat (steam) from the hot water, is trapped by your lid, rendering the vegetables tender and perfectly crisp. If you set your steamer basket on an ill-fitting pot, be assured that there is a much easier tool you can use. Yep, the wok!
The wok’s shape makes it an obvious choice when looking for a pan that will hold your steamer basket, regardless of the size of the steamer basket. The small bottom of a wok makes it ideal for holding the simmering water, without letting it touch the base of the basket.
Any water that reaches your basket simply works to get your vegetables all wet. Set your basket of choice over the wok filled with a little water, then cover and steam.
#3 Warming tortillas
Warming tortillas used to mean heating them up individually in a frying pan, which never holds more than two small tortillas at once.
This is not the case anymore. We warm tortillas up in a wok. Simply lay them up the sides of the wok. Fit on as many as you can. You’ll have many warm tortillas in no time at all.
Smoking foods inside your home may seem a little intimidating. Do this using a wok and you will see how easy it actually is.
You won’t be able to smoke large slabs of meat, but you can add lots and lots of smoked flavor to smaller pieces of fish or meat.
Using just a wok, a rack, some aluminum foil, and your regular stovetop, you can infuse your favorite foods with irresistible flavor that can approximate what you would typically achieve with complicated outdoor smoking equipment and techniques. The first bit of good news is that smoking foods using a wok is easy! Let’s show you how.
Line the bottom of your wok with the foil. Add the ingredient you want to use to add the smokey flavor. Some examples are tea leaves, fruits, wood chips, spices, rice or sugars.
Now, turn on the stove and allow those fragrant elements to start smoking. Then, place a rack over your wok and place the chosen food on top. Cover with foil and wait.
Once the foods have finished getting smoked, you can finish cooking them as required.
The wok is great for braising foods. Braising means we sear them to lock in their flavor before cooking them in some liquid. That liquid could be water or stock.
Wok-braising won’t break down tenuous meat tendons or muscles in the same way traditional slow-braising would. But it is a great way to reduce the time frame required for braising while rendering your cuts delicious and tender.
Wok-braising is best suited for cheaper cuts of meat and inexpensive root veggies, which is handy if you are looking to turn budget food into culinary cuisine.
It’s simple to do. Sear your food in a tiny amount of oil, then add the liquid of choice and simmer uncovered. Once the food is cooked and the sauce has thickened, your food is ready for the next stage of braising.
This is a very simple method that works for a variety of ingredients, which makes it a highly versatile technique to have in your culinary arsenal.
Similar to stir-fries, you can make your favorite fajita recipe in your wok. Additionally, if you have a wok stand, you will be able to serve at the table straight from the wok.
Before you throw in all your fajita ingredients, heat the wok over medium-high heat and place your tortillas around the inside walls of the wok.
Do this for a few seconds on each side of the tortilla, to heat them through. Stack them on top of each other and wrap them in foil to keep warm.
Another easy one. Over medium-high heat, heat a seasoned wok. Add a splash of oil. Swirl the wok about to coat the sides with the oil. When the wok starts to smoke, press the burgers around the sides of the wok.
Cook them, turning them over with a metal spatula to cook the other side. Remove them from the wok when they are done.
Now you can use the used and flavored oil for cooking accompanying onions or mushrooms.
There are so many ways that you can use a wok, that it is almost sacrilege to save it just for those stir-fries. The characteristics of this pan allow you to heat multiple items at once and keep your kitchen oil-splatter free.
The wok below is the one I would recommend.
So, grab your wok today and use your flexible friend to cook fabulous food for your friends and family to enjoy.