Add A Few Accessories To Your Chinese Wok
Stir Fry meals prepared in a traditional Chinese wok are not only tasty but can also be very healthy. As with any cooking technique there are a few accessories that you can add to your wok that can greatly improve your meal preparation.
To make the best traditional stir fry or oriental cooking recipes the food must be quickly heated at a high temperature and be rapidly moved from the center of the wok up the sides to make sure that all the ingredients get proper heat and yet are not over done. This is why the round bottom wok excels at this type of cooking. The traditional Chinese wok has a round bottom to facilitate this type of cooking.
However since stir fry cooking has become some popular in America where many home stoves, especially electric stoves, do not produce sufficient heat to properly cook these meals a flat bottom wok has been designed to allow the wok to be placed lower on the burner to receive more heat. These flat bottom woks work well with most electric stoves.
A wok Ring Is Necessary If You Use A Round Bottom Wok On An Electric Stove
However if you prefer the round bottom wok than you should purchase a wok ring. A wok ring is a circular device that is shaped so that one side has a larger opening than the other. This allows the cook to use the ring with the large opening on top which places the round bottom wok lower to the burner. This is a benefit with electric stoves.
If the ring is placed with the smaller diameter on top than the wok will be kept higher off the burner which is the proper placement with gas stoves or burners. In addition to placing the round bottom wok at the proper height the wok ring also holds the wok freeing your hands. You can imagine how difficult it would be to work with a round bottom wok over a stove burner without some method to hold it up right while you added ingredients or moved them around. The wok ring will also let you stand your round bottom wok directly at the dinner table where the freshly prepared meal is easily served.
Because it is necessary to keep the ingredients moving you will need a good spatula. Wood is a good choice for this especially if you are using one of the non stick coated woks because you would not want to scratch the surface. You can easily make a very useful spatula by cutting the rounded edge off of a large wooden spoon. Cut about a third of the spoon away and use sandpaper to smooth the edges.
Add A Bamboo Steamer For Fast Steamed Meals
If you intend to steam vegetables or rice in your wok you will need a domed lid. These are usually made from carbon steel, aluminum or heat resistant glass. While these lids work well they do produce condensation which can drip back onto the ingredients causing them to end up somewhat soggy.
A much better solution is to purchase a bamboo steaming basket. These are made in sections which stack upon each other. Each section can hold various vegetables, fish, or meat and make it very convient to steam an entire meal. To use a steamer you load the individual sections, stack them upon each other and them place them into a shallow pan or other cooking utensil containing a small amount of water. As the water boils it produces steam which quickly cooks the meal.
It is important to make sure the water level stays below the level of the food in the lowest basket and you will also need to add a little water from time to time to replenish the water that boils off. The best way to do this is to keep a kettle of water heating on another burner so you can add the water when hot and not cause the boiling water to cool down.
A small wire skimmer is a useful tool for removing bits of food from the hot oil or you could use a slotted spoon for the same purpose.
A well made deep fat frying thermometer is another handy tool if you plan on doing much of this kind of cooking. There are wire racks made in the shape of a semi circle which attach to the top of the wok which are very handy for holding ingredients for deep frying.
One other important accessory to ensure that your salads come out dry and crispy is a vegetable spinner. These amazing little devices are actually a bowl shaped container into which you place your vegetables. They have a lid with a pump handle. When you press down on the pump your vegetables are quickly spun dry and ready for the wok or bamboo steamer.
Stir frying in a traditional chinese wok is a simple method of preparing tasty, healthy meals. All of the above mentioned wok accessories are readily purchased either on line or from local speciality shops and fortunately they are low in price and will last indefinitely.