Using An Electric Wok
There's more to an electric wok than meets the eye. Move over stir fries! Here come roasts, casseroles, fondues, steamed foods and more!
When you think wok, you probably think stir fry. After all, that's why the Chinese invented the wok. The narrow base would go over the cooking fire and heat the oil for cooking, and the wide sides of the wok would keep the cooked food warm while new ingredients were added. That's why a good wok was always made out of very thin metal - it spreads the heat faster.
Now, think electric wok. You get a great deal more than stir fry. And that's what makes the electric wok such a nifty kitchen appliance.
Like the electric frying pan, it has an adjustable heat control. But the shape of the electric wok makes it infinitely more useful than any frying pan on its own could ever be. And of course, most modern electric woks have excellent nonstick coatings for easy cleaning.
On maximum heat, you will use the electric wok just like a normal wok. Bring on the stir fries: Chinese, Mongolian, Italian, any cuisine you wish. The secret of a stir fry is to get your wok as hot as possible before you start cooking.
The shape of wok also lends itself to steaming. Fill the wok with water, broth, or a water and wine mix, then balance bamboo steaming baskets above the water. The sides of the wok are perfectly shaped to hold them. Adjust the temperature so that the liquid bubbles steadily, and hey presto, you have a steamer!
The height of the wok makes it easy to slow-roast whole chickens or large cuts of meat. Brown your roast on high, then reduce heat to medium, cover the wok and close the vent. Slow-roasting produces deliciously tender meat. Allow about 45 minutes per pound for well-done meat, or about 30 minutes per pound for rare.
To pot roast, you'll also brown your meat on high, then you'll add your vegetables and a cup of wine, stock or water before covering the wok and leaving your meal to cook itself. Pot roasting is good for less tender cuts, and also makes a delicious gravy in the process.
The shape of the wok also lends itself to fondues and deep frying, and being able to control the temperature is very handy. Use a gentle heat for cheese fondues, and high heat for oil. You don't have to fill the wok with oil - just use as much as you need.
An exciting idea for fondues is a Chinese fondue. Fill the wok with vegetable or chicken broth. You and your guests cook very thin slices of meat, chicken and fish, or whole shrimps, plus assorted bite-sized vegetables in the stock. Use chopsticks if you like a challenge! Serve with Chinese sauces. At the end of the meal, pour a small glass of sherry into the now very flavorsome broth, and serve a bowl to everyone to end the meal Chinese-style.
The electric wok is also ideal for slow-cooking stews and casseroles. Once again, you can brown your meat on high, add your other ingredients then adjust the temperature to a gentle simmer for a perfectly cooked meal.
If you've been thinking of getting yourself an electric wok, stop thinking and do it now. It will pay for itself in pleasure and usefulness in no time at all!