I recently went to a wedding where I knew absolutely no one other than the Chassan. So sitting quietly at my table, counting down the minutes until I could get my husband and gracefully make our exit, the women on my table go into the most “fascinating” conversation. What was the worst gift they ever got at their wedding? Among the ugly crystal, clown saltshakers, fuzzy challah covers, that were tossed about – there was one gift that caught my attention – the wok!
Without even realizing it, I started waving my hands (bangles flying literally) like some crazy lady, practically launching myself at the women who said wok, and practically shouted for the entire hall to hear, “What the Wok! – you’re nutso – that’s my #1 kitchen tool – If I had to live with only one skillet/frying pan for the rest of my life – it would be the wok! It makes everything I throw in there Wokolicious!!
Now I readily admit, if I was watching myself go on and on about the wonders of a wok at that table ,I too would be mouth a gaped wide open in shock, but I must say, these ladies were game and the entertaining time we had, my husband had to pull me out of the wedding.
As I explained my wok obsession, questions were flying, does it really cut your cooking time in half? What’d the difference between that and a regular non-skillet frying pan? You mean you don’t make just stir fry dishes in there? I realized I needed to share my love of the wok with the world – Or at least with you, my loyal Binah readers!!
There is a reason why the Chinese have been using woks for cooking for the past 3000 years. Woks are the ultimate multi-tasking cooking utensil. With a wok you can deep fry, stir fry, boil, stew, or steam.
Most of us are normally use to a frying pan or skillet to sauté or pan fry. But a wok once you get use to the difference in size and shape does all these jobs much better and more efficiently. For instance, the shape of the wok is an advantage. When heating up a skillet or flat frying pan, many times we will find that some parts of the frying pan is hotter than others, so if we are sautéing onions we tend to have ones that are cooking faster than others depending on where they are laying in our pan. In a wok because it is concave, when heated, the bottom and sides of wok is one even temperature.
But the reason I truly love the wok is because it’s does it all, and for me who thinks about supper for my family at maybe 5pm, it cooks things fast, well and all in one pot! Yes, primarily it is used for stir fry, which by the way there a hundreds of recipes using all sorts of ingredients, so that never really gets too old in my house. But, I make soups, dumplings, fish dishes and pasta dishes all using my wok. It’s ability to hold everything with no danger of overflowing food leaking out the sides, and it’s versatility and ability to cut my time in front of the stove in half, makes me zealot fan favorite of this kitchen tool.
So as I told that lady at the wedding, very lucky girl getting a wok, someone sent me hand crotched toilet seat covers!
This recipe literally from start to finish can be made in less than 15 minutes. At-home I make many variations using different proteins and added vegetables for supper. Serve this as is, on rice, on pasta on a salad, it will be a hit any way.
1 package of chicken cutlets, cut into strips
1 cup teriyaki sauce
Fresh ground black Pepper
1 cup sesame seeds
3 garlic cloves
1 tsp. fresh ginger
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
1 small white or red onion, diced
2 red peppers, diced
1 cup snow peas, sliced
6 baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1 cup shredded carrots
½ tsp. cilantro
Season chicken strips with salt, pepper, garlic powder, ginger powder, and ground mustard. In a plastic bag, marinate your chicken in teriyaki sauce. You can just toss the chicken in the marinate if you need to cook right away, or let sit in fridge until ready to use. Coat in sesame seeds cover the entire strip of chicken. Set aside.
In a heated wok, add the fresh whole garlic and fresh ginger. Sauté together until slightly browned, remove from wok and reserve for later use. (about 3 minutes)
Add the sesame oil to the same hot wok, add the onions and sauté until transparent. Add red pepper, snow peas, mushrooms, and carrots. Add salt, pepper, and cilantro. Crush the reserved garlic cloves and ginger, and add to vegetables. Sauté all together until soft. Remove from the wok and set aside.
Add chicken to the wok and cook, occasionally stirring. When almost done add ¼ cup teriyaki sauce and deglaze the pan around the chicken. When cooked, add the vegetables back to the wok and sauté all together until hot.
WHY THE WOK IS WONDERFUL:
- The curved outside walls of a wok make it easier to cook larger items than a normal steep-sided skillet could handle
- The shape also prevents food and grease from spilling over the edge. This contributes to cleaner stoves after cooking
- Woks tend to require smaller amounts of oil for frying which is great for those of you who are watching your diet.
- It is very easy to move food around a wok which helps food cook evenly and become less prone to burning.
- A well seasoned wok adds to the taste of a dish much like a well-cured cast iron skillet.
Compared to traditional American cookware, a carbon-steel wok is inexpensive — no more than $30 — and it will last you a lifetime. The Chinese say an iron wok is the best pan for stir-frying because it adds “wok fragrance” to the food.
MY WOK TIPS:
- Always allow the wok to heat up before adding oil. You always want to add cold oil to a hot wok. This way your oil will heat up fast and then you can add your vegetables ensuring that your vegetables do not soak up any unnecessary oil because they had to sit in cold oil before they started to cook.
- Tilt the wok so that any oil in the wok will cover the sides this will help to prevent food from sticking.
- For wok cooking it is always better to make sure all your ingredients are cut and ready to be cooked before heating up the wok. Most stir fry’s require different vegetables to be cooked before others because of density. So if you are cooking eggplant and it takes longer to cook than perhaps peppers or snap peas, in a wok that time is almost cut in half, so it is easier to have everything pre-cut so you just throw in when the timing is right.
- Any kind of flavoring such as garlic, onions, or ginger should be cooked in the oil first before cooking meat and vegetables to add aromatic flavors to the oil.
- Always stir the food you are cooking. If you feel you food is being overcooked to fast or cooking unevenly, more stirring is needed. However, if you feel like the food is cooking to slow, try not stir as vigorously.