Not too long ago, I decided to finally replace my non-stick wok with a 14″ carbon steel wok from The Wok Shop. I grew up eating a lot of stir-fries and my dad had a 16″ perfectly seasoned wok that he has used for years. Seasoning a wok takes a lot of patience because acquiring that gorgeous patina that well seasoned and used woks have takes time. Also, I learned that not all woks will change color as fast as others, so yeah… patience is key. This weekend, I decided that I was going to start using my new wok and I’ll continue to use it often. I followed Grace Chen’s method of seasoning, by the way.
The reason I decided to replace my non-stick wok is because woks are supposed to reach high temperatures in order to make a good stir-fry. I don’t know about you, but I don’t really want non-stick coating in my food. Every time I used to cook with that non-stick wok, I never let it get too hot – so my food steamed a lot. Not what I want when cooking with a wok! So it took me way too long to replace it, but I’m glad that I finally did it.
The first thing I made with the new wok were greens. Then I decided to make a very garlicky-gingery vegetable fried rice with 5-spice pork. New woks want oil, so the more you cook with them the better and more naturally non-stick they become. Again, it takes time and patience to develop that wonderful patina.
What I love about cooking with a wok is that the high heat cooks things quickly, but everything retains its texture, especially if you cut your vegetables as close to the same size as possible and keep your meat thin enough and bite-size. You don’t just throw everything together either, there’s an order to stir-fry and that makes my OCD tendencies very happy.
It’s also a good idea not to crowd the wok, or else you end up steaming your food. Which is great if that’s what you’re looking for, but not so great for a good fried rice. Also, using day old rice that has been kept in the fridge makes for a delicious dish. I’ve only made the mistake of using fresh steamed rice once, and it wasn’t very pretty. Not unless you like eating food with a glue-like consistency!
Another thing that I love about cooking with a wok is that you can really stretch a dish and feed a bunch of people, or even have left-overs if you’re cooking for 1 or 2. Plus you don’t have to have huge pieces of protein, a little goes a long way when cooking with a wok! Anyway, I don’t have a recipe to share for this 5-spice pork and vegetable fried rice. I just wanted to express my excitement about cooking with a proper wok again! What about you, do you use a wok regularly?