Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Black is Beautiful

Once you’ve chosen your new wok…or like most of us these days, had it delivered off Amazon, you may be tempted to rush to the nearest Half-Price Books, buy the biggest Chinese cookbook that you can find, and start cooking Chinese as devotely as Julie in the move Julie and Julia…

But wait…

‘Tis the season…

And the season is so very important that you don’t want to miss it.

 

 

So what is the season…and why is it so darn important?!

 

Your brand new wok will most likely have been coated with oil when it was being made in the factory. Manufacturers do this to protect the metal and keep it from rusting or tarnishing in the store before being sold.

Your goal is actually to turn your nice, shiny, and new wok into an even more beautiful*?!) black, nonstick wok with a patina that makes for excellent stir-fry..

So exactly why do you need to season your wok before you start making gourmet meals…and how do you go about it?

 

First the WHY…

Seasoning your new wok will not only removes any metallic taste and the preservative oil manufacturers place on it, but also prevents rust.

Seasoning supposedly also gives you a chance to get acquainted with your wok…

  • how heavy it is
  • how it responds to you
  • how to clean it
  • how to hold it

 

Seasoning your wok properly is so very important because if seasoning is not done properly, your food will probably stick to the pan.

 

 

So now for the HOW

  • Turn the stove burner on as high as it will go.
  • Set your wok on the burner for about a minute,
  • Now take the wok off the heat, Add 2Tbsp  oil,  swirling the pan around to make sure that the bottom and sides are coated.
  • Put the wok back on the heat.
  • Add 1 bunch chopped scallions and 1/2C sliced unpeeled ginger.
  • Reduce the heat to medium,
  • Stir-fry for about twenty minutes.
  • Smear the aromatics up the sides of the wok all the way to the edgem adding more oil if needed
  • Remove the wok from heat,
  • Once the wok has cooled down. rinse the wok with hot water
  • Finally heat the wok over low heat for a couple of minutes.

Even though you have taken all this time to season your wok, time to time you may find from that your wok has become “gummy” and rust spots have started to form. If this is the case, heat the pan as you did before, rub 1-1/2tsp oil and 1Tbsp kosher salt into the wok, and dry completely with a pad made from three layers of paper towels,

 

Cleaning Your Wok

To clean your wok after using, rinse with a soft sponge, dish soap optional…(depends on how much of a germophobe you are…but many chefs recommend avoiding soap). Never use metal utensils or scrubbers to clean your wok because this will weaken the coating.

Dry it off.

Once you have finished drying it off, heat the wok on the stove at a low setting for about a minute in order to evaporate any remaining water.

Now rub in a dab of oil before on the wok before storing. This cost of oil will help to seal any pits in the metal and keeps the surface non-stick.

If something is sticking to the pan that you can’t get off this way, add a dash of salt and scrub it gently with a paper towel..

 

Using Your Wok…After you have been using your wok for a while, you will find that the interior has changed from that shiny silver color that it had when you brought it home from the store to either a brownish, or even a black color.

Don’t worry…you have not ruined your pan.

Black is beautiful.

This is actually what you have been ultimately waiting for.

This permanent black patina makes sure that you have a flavorful meal each time you cook.

 

 

Cooking with Your New Wok

  1. Make sure your wok is very hot before adding your ingredients. There should actually be smoke rising from it.
  2. Now add oil to the pan before adding your ingredients.
  3. Be sure to spread the ingredients evenly and along the sides of the pan
  4. As your ingredients are cooking, only stir them as needed to prevent burning.  while cooking.
  5. Cook your food in batches. Overcrowding them may save you time, but will not be worth it in the long run.

 

Finally for a few more words of wisdom…

  • Hold off on using your wok to steam, boil, or poach.
  • Avoid cooking with any acidic foods—such as tomatoes, vinegar, and lemons—because acidic foods can damage the delicate surface of the wok.
  • And it probably goes without saying to be cautious when using a hot stove, especially when hot oil.
Sweet, Sweet Sunday

A Wok on the Wild Side

The first thing that I think of whenever I think about our first cooking method—stirfrying—is a wok.

You may think that woks, which in Chinese directly translates as “Big Spoon,” are /what Alton Brown calls a “unitasker,” but woks can also be used for many other cooking methods—such as deep frying, steaming, and boiling, stewing, and braising.

 

 

Material.

1.Cast Iron…Cast iron is one of the oldest cookware materials known to man, and the Chinese have been using cast iron woks for centuries.

However, finding a great cast iron wok that you really love is going to be a difficult task. You’re either find one that is way too fragile and that will break very easily…or you’ll find heavier cast iron woks that are actually far too difficult to lift.

Advantages on the other hand, include the fact that food cooks food evenly because the wok retains heat longer. In fact, cast iron woks retain heat so well that food should be removed immediately after cooking to prevent overcooking,

Disadvantages of cast iron woks include the fact that they take a relatively long time to heat up

 

2. Stainless Steel…Stainless steel woks, such as the Cuisinart Stainless steel wok have several advantages—including their being rust-proof, non-reactive and lightweight. ‘

 

3. Carbon Steel…Carbon steel woks are most popular and most recommended type of wok around.

Chefs say that these woks allow for faster and better cooking because of their quick heat conduction and even transfer of heat.

Carbon steel woks are relatively inexpensive compared to other woks, lightweight, and durable. Typically these woks cost around $40 to $80.

As far as weight, when shopping for a carbon steel wok, look for what is called a 14-gauge wok. This means that the wok is about two millimeters thick.

 

4. Non-stick or Teflon-coated woks…Many people may think that they are doing themselves a favor by buying Teflon coated or non-stick woks, but these actually a poor investment.

Even though these woks allow for easy cleanup and do not require seasoning…(more on this later)…Teflon or non-stick woks are not made for high heat. In fact, using these woks at high temperatures will damage the Teflon coating over time.

These woks also are easily scratched and will lose their non-stick properties over time.

5, Aluminum…Aluminum woks are also a poor choice because they do not retain heat very well and are not durable.

 

Bottom. 

Woks are available with either a round bottom or a flat bottom. A round bottom is ideal if you cook on a gas stove, but most of us probably have electric stoves and would be better off choosing a wok with a flat bottom.

That being said, most professional chefs would say to buy a wok with a round bottom because heat is distributed mostly throughout the bottom of the pan and food can burn easier with a flat bottom wok.

 

Size

While it may be tempting to go our and buy that 6-1/2′ wok that you saw in the last Chinese restaurant you went to, be real.,,you’re creating food for your family, not opening up your own Genghis Grill franchise.

You’re simply looking for the perfect wok for feeding your own family, plus a few uninvited guest perhaps.

Usually the woks that are available range in size from 10″ to 20.”

The size grill that you actually need depends on several criteria—the size of your range, how much you want to cook at one time, the size and power of your burner, what type of food you want to cook, and the type of stove you have, and how many people you are going to be feeding.

Your best wok as far as size would probably be a 14″ wok. Anything larger would be too hard for most of us to maneuver,,,but as the same time your need a wok that is big eniugh ti hold all if your ingredients without overcrowding the pan and making it hard to cook food evenly..

 

Handle

Woks are available with several different types of handles—those with two small handles on each side, those with a long handle on one side and a small handle or loop on the other, those with two loops on each side, and those with long stick on one side and a metal loop on the other.

Since we are choosing a smaller wok, your best bet is a wok with two long stick-style handles.

The long handle makes stirring the ingredients while you are stir-frying much easier.

The short “helper” handle makes lifting wok easier.

 

 

Lid…If you can find a wok with a lid, buy it before any other wok that you might be looking at also…especially if the wok has a clear glass lid. The lid will come in handy for simmering, stewing, braising, and super-heating the sides of the wok to create “wok hay”,,,more on that later also..

 

So now that you know what to look for when shopping for a wok, how about some good online sources, such as…