About a month back, I took a little trip into Philly and went on a bit of a shopping spree. I enjoyed myself, ate good food, and spent way more money than I needed to. This is why I have a love/hate relationships with my days off. At any rate, in addition to getting some clothes, an awesome mug, a cool pendant that’s really a watch, and a couple of other things, I also took a little detour into Chinatown. It was here in Chinatown that I finally decided to purchase a wok. No lie, that thing is probably my pride and joy… and by probably, I mean it is. I’ve been wanting one for a few years, and even though they aren’t expensive there, I was just being cheap. I finally sucked it up and got one. I know I had been wanting one, and I was all too happy to stroll up into that shop and purchase my wok.
I didn’t realize that when you purchase a wok, you have to also buy the lid separately, and that none of the wok lids have handles! I thought this was mighty strange, but the little man behind the counter helped me pick out the right lid, and screwed a handle on from behind the counter. It’s sad and strange that the purchase of a wok somehow makes you feel like an adult. I don’t know how that works, but that’s surely how I felt. I was all too proud of myself, and excited to break in my new purchase.
Bubbling with excitement, I finally broke it in about a week ago. I figured that fried rice was a simple and fitting dish for breaking in a new cooking implement. I carefully took time to season my wok, cooled it down, then got ready to cook fried rice.
Sounds easy, right? Well… there were a couple of things that I totally wasn’t prepared for. I guess I thought it would be like the wok I already own (one of those nonstick deals where the teflon was cheap and chipping. We use it to make popcorn). Here are some of the things that are WAY different:
- It’s a different material! I know some of the more seasoned foodies are like “No DUH Rach!”, and rolling their eyes… but I didn’t take that into account when I started cooking with it. The one that I was using was made of like a teflon or something, and the one that I now own is a carbon-steel, I believe. It made me realize how little I’ve worked with this particular metal as far as having it as a cooking utensil. Having said that, it leads me to my next discovery:
- It heats differently. What I found is that it gets hot FAST. Having said that, ALL of your ingredients have to be prepped before you even go to heat it up! It’s good for fast, quick cooking. That way, you don’t have to worry about the wok getting too hot and burning the stuff that’s in there while you’re rounding up spices or whatnot. Have everything at the ready. What’s also kind of cool about it heating quickly is that it’ll cool down fairly quickly as well.
- The sloped sides are GREAT for flipping. Don’t get overzealous, though; your rice will end up on the floor.
- Seasoning the wok gives it a slick surface for flipping food. What this means as far as cooking is that you might actually require less oil for cooking. Also keep this in mind when flipping food. See #3.
- If you’re going to flip food when you sauté and not use a spoon, use both handles if your wok has 2 handles. What I discovered with my wok (I don’t know if it’s true with all woks, though) is that the one handle actually isn’t hard fastened on, so the wok will tilt if you try picking it up with just the one handle. If you don’t use both handles, see #3.
- When your wok is seasoned, hardly anything sticks to it. I had a little bit of stickage this time around because I was new to using it, and some stuff burned on there. So I had to wash it. And if you wash it…
- Keep it seasoned! You really don’t need to wash a wok unless something sticks to it. That way, you don’t have to season it every time. You can just wipe it out, and it should be fine.
If there are any wok users out there, I hope you got a good laugh at the crazy black girl (that tends to have Asian taste in food) using a wok for the first time. For any of you budding foodies out there looking to get your first wok, I hope this helps! I’ll also leave a link for how I figured out how to season a wok. It’s pretty easy to do, and now I have a new wok that I can love and enjoy, and cook great food from! I’ll probably be using it more during the summer just because it’ll be hot, and if I’m going to use heat, I’ll want to do something fast. If it’s not over the grill, trust that it’ll be in the wok.
Ciao 4 now!