What is a wook
Why a wok?
The wok is the central cooking appliance in Far Eastern cuisine.
Its special shape and material make it possible
a special preparation of dishes.
The wok cooking method is quick, tasty and healthy.
What exactly is a wok?
The Wok(Cantonese for Cooking utensil) is a curved pan shape with a diameter of 25 to 100 cm, very high at the rim.
It is one of the oldest cooking appliances in the world. There were preforms of today's wok 3000 years ago, back then still made of clay. 1000 years ago, its use spread across China. It has now become the focus and one of the most important cooking utensils in the entire Far Eastern kitchen.
Today's wok devices can sometimes also be used on modern stoves and thus enable the advantages of so-called wok cooking in the western world.
The classic wok is made of cast iron or carbon steel, has a spherical bottom and high, outwardly sloping walls with two opposite handles or alternatively a single long stick-shaped handle. Woks are traditionally used on small, open-top coal stoves.
Nowadays, the wok with the classic round bottom pan can also be placed on special gas burners and electric cookers or on special bases. And now the wok is also available made of sheet steel, stainless steel, aluminum, Tefal, Silargan and with a flat base. This means that the wok can now be used on all commercially available electric, gas and even induction cookers.
However, the wok is not just a container, it also stands for a certain way of cooking, frying, steaming or deep-frying food. Especially the Method of so-called stir-frying is the central content of wok cooking. A description of this method follows below.
Overall, it can be said that cooking with a wok is a particularly simple, quick, tasty and healthy method to prepare an Asian dish. It can also be used very well in many Western dishes.
Cooking with the wok
A wok can be used like a normal pan as well as a normal saucepan:
E.g. for roasting or stewing fish and vegetables, for boiling soup or rice, for braising meat, sauces, vegetables, mushrooms, for deep-frying spring rolls, for steaming food in connection with an insertable bamboo basket, for blanching vegetables. Due to its size and shape, a wok vessel can be used universally and skilfully.
The best known, most typical and most widespread way of cooking with a wok, however, is the so-called. Stir-fryingwhich has a long tradition, especially in China, and is particularly popular. When stir-frying, all the ingredients of a dish are added one after the other to the wok with rapid stirring movements, briefly seared under high heat and mixed together.
With this method, the shape and material of a wok come to full use. Ideally, it is cooked on an open flame (gas burner or charcoal oven) and with a wok with a round bottom. Very high temperatures can be reached, which in turn enables the fast cooking times and unique flavors typical of stir-frying. Wok cooking in the west, or in common western kitchen households, is usually only possible on an electric stove and with a flat wok pan. The stir-frying method can still be used here, although it represents a compromise compared to the traditional method.
Here are some general tips and recommendations for the stir-fry cooking method:
When stir-frying, all the vegetable ingredients are cleaned and cut into pieces of roughly the same size (firm vegetables a little smaller) and placed next to the wok. Rice or noodles are pre-cooked and are also available. The spices are at hand.
The wok is heated slowly to the highest setting so that the edge of the wok has enough time to warm up properly. Then a little oil or fat of good and heat-resistant quality is added to the wok. Peanut oil, palm oil, rice oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, sesame oil, coconut fat, coconut oil, olive oil are recommended. It is important that the oils are refined and not cold-pressed so that no harmful substances are formed when the temperature increases.
When the fat is hot, all the ingredients are put into the wok one after the other: First the ingredients that need to be cooked the longest, e.g. Meat, fish, seafood. These can be removed from the wok again or placed on the edge of the wok before continuing with the wok cooking. Firm vegetables are next in the pan, then soft vegetables and finally the pre-cooked rice or the pre-cooked pasta plus any meat, fish or seafood that may be returned. At the end or in between - depending on the recipe and preference - the missing spices are added.
The ingredients should be added to the wok in quick succession, but not too much at once so that the temperature doesn't drop too much and the ingredients don't stop frying. It should be stirred quickly and continuously so that nothing burns and everything cooks evenly. A large rounded turner made of wood or plastic is best used for stirring. A metal turner can also be used with an insensitive wok vessel. Of course, the wok lid stays off when stirring the pan, not only because of the stirring, but also so that the ingredients stay crisp and do not soften too much. When wok cooking on the electric stove, you use the largest hotplate so that the wok rim stays well hot.
Two examples of simple dishes that you can try stir-frying are "fried noodles" and "fried rice", two popular dishes that come in many variations. -> recipes
Wok or pan - an overview
Cooking with the wok is therefore possible - due to its shape and material - a lot easier, more versatile and also more quickly than with the pan.
The high heat in the vessel combined with the rapid and constant mixing and stirring of the wok contents make this possible particularly gentle, aromatic and healthy Preparation of a dish while stirring the pan.
The wok is usually a bit more difficult to clean due to its size, weight and material and does not fit on every kitchen shelf. For fans of Asian culinary art, however, a wok standing open in the kitchen with its appealing shape should also be a stylish and attractive eye-catcher.
The five good reasons for the wok in detail
1. Gently stir and mix
The rounded shape of the wok makes it much easier to stir, shovel back and forth and mix the food. Since the wok is usually relatively large and has a very high rim, it is not so easy for something to fall out when stirring.
2. Wok rim as a placement aid
What is already cooked in terms of vegetables, meat or e.g. Spring rolls, can be placed on the inclined edge and stays warm there without burning. Juice, fat or water do not get there and do not soften the food any further.
3. Short cooking times
The material of the wok vessel and the easy turnability of the food in the wok allow high heat and thus a short cooking time.
4. Tasty, crunchy, gentle on vitamins
The short cooking times, in turn, have the additional advantage that the vegetables stay particularly crisp and tasty and vitamins and other valuable substances are less destroyed.
5. Low fat cooking
The wok method only requires a small amount of oil or fat. It thus supports a low-fat, healthy diet.
The right choice of wok
(Comparison of the most common types of wok in Europe. The comparison is based on our own experience, media reports and extensive research. The assessments are without guarantee. Additions or corrections are gladly accepted. Note Jovi's Asialaden)
Cast iron woks
+ very good heat conduction over the entire surface
+ very good heat storage
+ good edge placement due to rough material
- heavy weight, depending on size
- must be oiled regularly
- take a little longer to get really hot
Stainless steel woks
+ easy to care for
- the edge does not get warm
- Difficult placement at the edge due to the smooth material
+ very fast and very good heat conduction over the entire surface
+ light and handy
- sensitive to scratches
- slippery edge
- low heat storage
Woks from Silit, made from Silargan material
+ very good heat conduction
+ very good heat storage
+ easy to care for
- heavy weight, depending on size
- smooth edge
- slightly higher acquisition costs
Woks with coatings such as Tefal
The properties of these woks depend not only on the coating, but also on the base material itself. This can be aluminum or stainless steel, for example.
The special care of the cast iron wok
The cast iron wok is the most traditional, effective and widespread among the wok cards. However, if handled improperly, it can rust. It is therefore advisable to wash the wok with hot water and little or no detergent after each use and to rub in a few drops of cooking oil from time to time after it has dried. We recommend applying the oil with your fingertips and the palm of your hand. When oiling with kitchen paper or kitchen towels, paper or cloth lint tends to stick to the rough surface.
The wok should never be placed on a hob or metal plate with a damp base. The waterlogging promotes rust formation.
Accessories for the wok
Lid made of glass, aluminum or stainless steel. For heating up, cooking, steaming, keeping warm.
For turning, stirring and mixing food.
For fried and baked foods, it is placed over the wok so that the fat can drain off.
Steaming basket made of bamboo
Is placed in a little water in the wok. For steaming meat, fish, vegetables and fruit.
For removing baked and deep-fried foods.
Like slotted spoon, only smaller.
For turning or removing e.g. Spring rolls, wonton etc.
Image sources from top to bottom:
Photo 1: hand hammered wok; from wokshop, Tane Chan; License see Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Netherlands
Photo 2: Chinatown San Francisco wok shop; by stu spivack, license see Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic
Photo 3: Cooking with the wok; by Jan van der Crabben; License see Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic
Photo 4: wok dish; by Mats Stafseng Einarsen; License see Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
Photo 5: wok accessories; from Jovis Asialaden
Photo series below: wok products from Jovis Asian store; from Jovis Asialaden
to photos 1 - 4 see also -> Creative Commons
Wok products in Jovi's Asian shop
- Cast iron wok, large and small (Fig. See below)
with flat bottom, suitable for electric stove, aluminum lid, drip grid, 2 handles
Diameter of the top edge of the wok rim: large wok 35 cm; small wok 24 cm
- Carbon steel wok (Fig. See below)
with round bottom for gas cooker, diameter of upper edge of wok rim: 33.5 cm, with handle
- gas cooker (Fig. See below)
portable gas cooker; 34 x 25 x 11 cm
- Electric wok (Fig. See below)
for wok cooking independent of stove and gas cooker, power 1600 watts,
Non-stick coating, adjustable thermostat, heat-resistant handles, glass lid.
Diameter of the top edge of the wok rim: 36 cm
- Wok accessories
Turner, drip grid, steaming basket 3-part large (diameter 26 cm)
and small (diameter 15 cm), slotted spoon, sieve spoon, bamboo tongs.
Fig. And description see above under "Accessories for the wok".
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