A wok is a round bottomed cooking vessel generally found in Chinese kitchens. Woks can be made of various materials, including carbon steel, cast-iron, non-stick or aluminum. They come in various sizes (some are electric) and can be used for different types of cooking.
I have 2 woks (different sizes, one pretty large) and I use the smaller one a lot – generally for stir fry. The technique for stir frying in a wok is simple.
- Heat the wok to a high temperature (not smoking, but you do want things to sizzle and saute when they hit the wok.)
- Do not add oil until the wok has reached cooking temperature (this is true when using any type of saute pan).
- Once the wok is hot and some oil has been added (not too much, perhaps a tablespoon or 2) add ingredients.
- Do not overcrowd the pan. If you are cooking a lot of ingredients, do it in batches. You want the ingredients to cook quickly, maybe brown a little and not steam. A crowded wok will lower the temperature of the wok and result in slower cooking and steaming. If you add too much, remove a little and add to the next batch.
- Add a little oil to the wok before each batch (or you can spray a little Pam)
Woks are fairly inexpensive and handy and a good addition to your kitchen.