Question by David Clarke: Cooking Chinese Food In A Wok?
How is that done?
Answer by punchie
A little history behind the wok:
-It is to date one of the most widely used pc. of kitchen cookware in the world.
-It’s conical shape adds to the efficient use of the heat source, fire.
-It was created in a conical shape because the actual cooking surface(the bottom of the wok) is very small. Wood is/was scarce in China unlike in the US. So, bundles of grass are often all it takes to cook an entire entree. If wood was/is used, it is used sparingly in the form of sticks/twigs or a split log. The log end is only used and immediately extinguished after the meal is cooked.
-The more often a high carbon steel wok is used the darker in color it will become. So, when you see a “black black” wok, know that alot of cooking was done there.
Basic Principles of Making a Stirfry in a wok:
1. All food items are cut evenly into small pcs. Semi frozen meat allows for it to be cut very thinly.
2.The wok is heated on high heat. Oil (usually peanut oil) is added and swirled around. Sometimes “aromatics” (in the form of garlic, ginger or a combination of fermented black bean & garlic whole or paste form is added to the oil to flavor it).
3. (If you are making a meat based stirfry dish)-Add the meat into the hot oil first. Toss it around much like you would if you were sauteing vegetables in a regular skillet. When the meat is 3/4 cooked, place all of it and it’s juices into a bowl. Set it aside and know that you will revisit it later.
4. Reheat the wok on high heat. Add in a little more oil, then add in your sliced vegetables. Toss the vegetables around for about 2 min. on high heat. Then, take your bowl of meat and add it back into the wok. Toss everything together on high heat for about 2 more min. At this point you can season it with items like: soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, oyster sauce & ground white pepper. IF you want gravy, you create an opening in the food at the bottom or the wok. Add in a little broth (chicken is good) then add in a slurry (a mix of 1/2 C. of water with 1 tsp. of cornstarch). Stir the broth and slurry together and season with the ingredients mentioned above. You can also add in chile peppers or chile paste if you want some heat. That’s all there is too it. Eat your stirfry with a bowl of hot steaming rice. Enjoy.
The principles of boiling or deep frying are relatively the same as you would in Western cooking. The principles of steaming are straightforward. Water is placed at the bottom of the wok. A rack or “old school bamboo chopsticks are arranged in a way that would support a flat bowl”. Then, a bowl of food is placed on the rack. The lid is placed on top of the bowl for the duration of the steaming process.
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