Wok Cooking at its Best
If you’ve ever been to a Chinese restaurant, you’ve probably seen a wok in action. In my opinion this bowl shaped cooking pan is one of the most versatile pieces of cooking equipment that you can own. While you don’t necessarily need a wok to make things like stir-fry, it makes it so much simpler and faster that you’ll be amazed at how quickly a complete meal comes together. Woks can be used for stir-frying, poaching, steaming, deep frying and a host of other delicious things, but in this instance we will concentrate on using a wok to make a simple stir-fry.
If you’re new to cooking with a wok, it will take some getting used to, but with a little practice you’ll be whipping up meals that will astound your friends and family. The amazing part is that it is so fast and easy to prepare meals that look like they’ve come straight from the pages of a cooking magazine (no one but you needs to know how easy it is).
This is one of the most important steps, as well as being the easiest to overlook. Be sure to preheat your wok before you add the oil. A good test is to drip a small drop of water onto the surface of the wok; if it evaporates within a few seconds then your wok is hot enough.
Add any aromatics, such as onions, chives, garlic, or chiles to the oil first. This will allow them to steep in the oil and their flavors will carry through to the other ingredients.
Push your aromatics up onto the side of the wok and add whatever type of meat you are using in a single layer. Don’t stir the meat immediately; instead let it sear for a minute or two and then stir fry it until it is just a bit underdone. Push the meat up the sides of the wok or transfer it, along with the aromatics, to a plate.
Add your vegetables in separate groups, adding those with the longest cooking times first. Hard vegetables such as broccoli, potatoes, or carrots should be added first; followed by softer vegetables such as zuchinni, bell peppers, and mushrooms. Last but not least, after the other vegetables have cooked until they are nearly done, add leafy greens and tomatoes (if used).
Stir fry the vegetables until they are just crisp tender; do this by constantly sliding your spatula under them and turning the veggies over on themselves.
Return the meat and aromatics to the bottom of the wok and add any liquid ingredients such as soy sauce, broth, wine, or coconut milk. As you add the liquid, let it run down the sides of the wok in order to loosen any cooking residue from the pan (deglaze) and allow it to intensify the flavors of your stir fry.
The final step is simply to plate up your masterpiece and serve it with rice or noodles as you prefer. After that you can sit back and bask in the praise while letting everyone think that you’ve been slaving for hours (this is the most important step of all).