Is a wok and anything else needed to cook Chinese food?
Article by Andrew Ede
What do I need to cook Chinese foodAre you attracted by the thought of cooking tasty and healthy Chinese food in your home? What do you need, in addition to the obvious ones of the recipe, the ingredients, and your kitchen?Well woks have been the mainstay of Chinese cooking for centuries ? over 3000 years use in China, apparently. If you haven?t got a wok, is it necessary? Highly desirable, but not really essential, I would say.You can use a frying pan to cook Chinese food. A wok, does, however, have numerous advantages. It requires much less oil, and distributes heat more evenly than a frying pan does. And the unique concave shape of a wok makes tossing the food around during stir frying easier. Coupled with the fact that you can also use the wok as an simpleeveryday frying pan, and a deep fryer if wanted.Other equipment that is also not essential, but desirable can include:A lid. A lid can either be domed shaped or just flat. It should be able to fit the wok itself can also be used to measure ingredients to add.A cleaver. Cutting and slicing before preparing food is especiallyimportant. Having bite size pieces allows the food to be eaten with chopsticks. It also decreases cooking time by increasing the amount of surface area exposed to heat. And permits greater absorbtion of sauces and flavourings. Although they look as though they could cut through bones, don?t use a cleaver for this ? it may damage them. Although they are often made of carbon steel, this can rust and add a taste of metal. Best to get a cleaver manufactured from stainless steel. The flat end may also be used as a pestle.Steaming basket. This is a round basket that holds food over boiling water. Bamboo baskets are usually better than metal baskets as the materialabsorbs the moisture and permits the steam to circulate. Dripping water from metal baskets can reduce the flavour of the food.Ring stand. A ring stand can stabilise the wok. Generally ring stands have open sides for gas stoves, and closed sides for electric ones. If your wok has a tapered stand then turn it so that the broader side is up for electric stoves, and narrow side up for gas ones.Rack. Usually a semi circle and it can be used to keep food warm.Skimmer. A skimmer is a strainer made from wire mesh. Usually with a long handle made of bamboo (although also sometimes metal). It is used to scoop out such food as dumplings and wontons, in addition to deep fried foods from boiling water or oil.Thermometer. Useful to make sure that the right temperature has been achieved during deep frying. It is crucial that the bulb doesn?t touch the bottom of the wok.Bamboo cleaning whisk. For cleaning the wok.Tongs. Used to take out and move around, food.If buying a wok, it often makes sense to buy accessories at the same time as it can be better value.
Reviews on buying a wok at Wok (for UK residents) and Buy a Wok (for US residents).
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