How to choose, maintain and fry with a wok

Not that it’s quantum physics, but it’s worth clarifying a few things before buying this utensil and cooking with it. Here we explain how to take care of it — before and after use — and give you some recipes to get you started with stir-frying.

This big, deep frying pan stopped being something new to Chileans a long time ago. For this reason, no one feels too sophisticated when cooking with these utensils of Asian origin, and it is not surprising that in countless Chilean homes there is a wok among the various pans in the kitchen.

However, mistakes – and horrors – that are made with woks are not uncommon. To avoid them, it is better to pay attention to these simple tips, which will help those who want to make the most of the potential that a wok offers when cooking.

Which wok to buy?

What wok do I need for my home? The question is not that complicated either, but you have to ask yourself. First of all, never buy a wok that is too big, because when it’s full of food, it will be cumbersome on the fire, even with two hands. However, very small woks are also useless, as very little food will fit in them. So the best thing is to buy medium to large, depending on the size of our family. But as I said before, never an XXL.

Ibili aluminum wok 28 cm

Before first use

Whether or not it has some type of non-stick material inside, it is essential to treat our wok a little when first used. The first thing to do is to wash it —for the only time— with a mixture of water with very little dishwasher, then rinse it with cold water and dry it well.

Then put the wok on the fire and heat it very well, until it starts to generate smoke. Also, in the case of woks made of aluminum or other light metals, it will tend to darken a little at this stage, which is completely normal. Then, and very gently, pass it a cloth soaked in vegetable oil and leave it over low heat for about ten minutes.

Finally, remove from heat and wait for it to cool. At this time, wash with lukewarm water and without a dishwasher. Dry well and just add a coat of vegetable oil (it can be with a spray) and keep it like that, oiled. From then on, it will be ready to be used.

Kardamili Wonder Oil Spray 180ml

after each use

If you want your wok to last over time and not have to buy another one, it is essential that you take good care of it after each use in the kitchen. As? It’s very simple: once they have finished using it, they must clean it only with hot water (no detergent) and then dry it thoroughly. Finally, they should add a thin layer of vegetable oil and, if possible, hang it on a sturdy hook in your kitchen.

let’s jump

What basically happens with a wok is that by taking very high temperatures it can cook meat, vegetables, fish and even shellfish very well, all in a very short time. The result, if done right, leaves food golden on the outside but still tender on the inside.

It is, in the end, a large and deep frying pan in which the most diverse products are sautéed and mixed. But be careful, for everything to go well, it is essential to follow a few instructions.

First, have all the pre-cut foods cut and chopped. The beauty of the wok is that everything cooks quickly, and for this you have to constantly move the ingredients, which does not leave you time to do another task simultaneously.

Second, the wok must be well heated before cooking. How much? Until he starts smoking. Only then is a little oil added -always along the sides of the wok- and then the different ingredients start to be added.

And here is the other key: the wok, given its dimensions, allows all the ingredients to be cooked together, which in the end results in a unique blend of flavors, aromas and textures. That is why it is completely excluded to skip foods separately. However, we must keep in mind that we must add the foods to the wok in a certain order: first the most difficult to cook — those that take the most time — and then continue with the softest and fastest. .

Golden on the outside, soft on the inside.

For example, if it comes to vegetables, we will always start with varieties such as asparagus, carrots, cabbage or eggplant, and we will leave for the end things like mushrooms, chives, dragon’s teeth or green leaves, which hardly need to be heat stroke.

If meat is used, obviously it will go to the wok first, except in the case of shellfish and other sensitive products, which will go at the very end, just to give them the temperature. The same will happen if we use rice or other already cooked ingredients: they are only added to the wok to heat them up.

Oils and dressings

Each stir-fry has its respective ingredients, but some generalities are worth keeping in mind. For example, in the vast majority of stir-fries, a neutral oil should be used -such as marigold, corn or canola-, since the flavor of the preparation will be given by the ingredients of the recipe themselves, plus other salad dressings or sauces that are used. .

If sesame oil is used, it should always be in small quantities and mixed with a neutral oil. Otherwise, its flavor will be too intense and overshadow all the other ingredients. If soy sauce is used, this should also be added at the end, so as not to lower the temperature of the ingredients during cooking. The role of the soy sauce is to unify everything at the last moment, mixing well, allowing it to heat up in a few minutes and the dish is ready.

And be careful, whenever soy sauce is used, very little salt should be added to the recipe. Otherwise, it will be inedible.

Exotic Food Sesame Oil 250ml

When NOT to use the wok

Beyond stir-fries and various oriental (or Peruvian) inspired dishes that can be cooked in a wok, this pan can also be useful for frying eggs, scallops, sopaipillas or even empanadas.

However, it is better to avoid using the wok for prolonged cooking such as sauces and stews, because over time they can weaken the real oil screen that forms in the wok over time. Also, if something gets stuck and you have to wash it in the dishwasher, the wok can end up being damaged.

To cook

And to make it even clearer for everyone, here are two recipes—both for four people—in which the use of the wok is irreplaceable.

salted loin

—800 gr of seat

—2 purple onions

—1 yellow pepper

—2 peeled garlic cloves

—2 washed and unpeeled tomatoes

—Salt, pepper, marigold oil, red wine vinegar and soy sauce

—Cooked white rice, fries and cilantro.

Finely chop the garlic and set aside. Cut the seat into cubes about three by three centimeters, season with salt and pepper and set aside. Heat a wok well, add a little oil and fry the meat with the garlic. Meanwhile, peel the onions, cut them into quarters and add them to the wok. Open the chili, remove the seeds and ribs, cut it into strips and add it to the stir-fry.

It is important to move the wok frequently so that all the ingredients mix properly. Then add a little vinegar, stir, add a generous dash of soy sauce and stir again. Finally, cut the tomatoes into quarters, remove the seeds and add them to the wok. Stir the mixture a little and cook for a few more minutes until the tomatoes are hot. Finally, serve on a plate accompanying the lomo saltado (served with lots of its juice) with fries and white rice plus a little freshly chopped cilantro on top.

Fried rice with chicken and vegetables

—5 cups of white rice previously cooked (and cold)

—½ roast breast (also cold)

—100 grams of bacon

—2 chives

—1 carrot

-2 cloves garlic

—1 tablespoon ginger, peeled and finely chopped

-2 eggs

—Salt, miracle oil and soy sauce

Beat the two eggs in a container, heat a frying pan with a little oil and pour them in, forming a very thin tortilla. After a few minutes, and using a plate, turn it over and cook it a little longer. Then, remove from the pan and let the tortilla cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, cut the chicken into small cubes, do the same with the bacon, and set aside. Cut the whole chives into thin strips, including the green stem, and the very small garlic cloves. Also peel the carrot and cut it into small sticks. Finally, cut the omelet into small strips.

Finally, heat a wok well, add oil then pour in the chicken, bacon, garlic and just a pinch of salt. Mix well and, before the garlic starts to brown, add the carrot, chives and ginger. Give it a few minutes, still moving the wok, and when the chicken seems ready, add the rice, the chopped tortilla and a few drops of soy sauce. Stir until the rice is hot and serve immediately.

*Prices for products in this item are updated as of May 24, 2023. Values ​​and availability may change.

Source: Latercera

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