This is a blog featuring my personal stories of food, gardening, yachting, photography, travel and life.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wok And Roll

Okay, a lousy title for my newest blog entry. I apologize ahead of time.

Behold, the basic carbon steel wok. Hand forged and shaped for use in high heat situations where the foods involved are moved across the rounded surfaces to evenly cook them quickly.

The wok at right isn't ready to use yet. It's new, unseasoned and seasoning is really important to the successful use of the wok. It is done just like that black-as-the-night cast iron skillet handed down to you from your grandmother. The seasoned dark surface creates a natural non-stick surface.

To season your new wok, coat the surface with a light oil and wipe it down with a paper towel. Set the wok on a burner set on high and heat the wok until the surface begins to smoke. Turn off the burner and let the wok cool. Repeat the process a couple of times.

From this point on, never scrub your wok with one of those green scrubbers or a Brillo pad. The abrasiveness will scratch off your carefully created seasoning and you will have to go through the seasoning process all over again. Instead, use a light scrub brush, a little dish soap and fill the wok with hot water. Scrub lightly, rinse and dry. Your wok will darken and season further with time and use.

When using your wok, set it on the burner, turn the burner to high heat, pour the desired amount of oil into the wok. This will depend on the amount of food to be cooked and or the desired amount of oil you wish or do not wish to ingest.

Allow the oil to heat up, then carefully add each of the foods to be cooked in the order of their density. Raw meats go in first, along with onions, then garlic followed by carrots, celery, squash, cabbage, etc. Get the idea. Some foods will cook faster than others. You need to make sure others ARE cooked thoroughly, especially meats. Shrimp or scallops cook quickly so they would go into the wok at the end of the cooking process.

Hold on to the handle of the wok with a folded towel or oven mitt on your non-dominant hand and stir the contents of the wok with the other hand using one of the many wok tools available and that often come with your wok. I like the bamboo handled wire scoop. It lets me scoot the foods around the wok, separate items and serve portions leaving behind the high calorie sauce and oil.

Woks work best on gas burners and the higher the BTU output the better. Most home stoves have one burner with a higher output, but when compared with the burners used in Asian restaurants home burners can't begin to compete. So turn up your home burner all the way up!

What to cook? Anything goes. You are pretty much limited only to your imagination. There are plenty of recipes out there in cyberspace. Perhaps you got a recipe book with your wok. Be adventurous! Enjoy!