Chinese cooking has become one of the most popular ethnic foods of American culture today. While many people think that to get good Chinese food they must hit their local Chinese restaurant, this isn’t at all the case; good Chinese cooking can be done right at home with your own wok!
Many kitchen supply stores have caught up with the demand for Chinese cooking utensils; many home cooks are trying their hand at this delicious ethnic cuisine right in their own homes. While fresh ingredients are essential to Chinese cooking, so is the use of a wok. Don’t be fooled, however, there are many poor replicas on the market that won’t give you the test you’re looking for.
The wok is characterized by it’s round bottom shape, and is hammered by hand to ensure the perfect curve. The round bottom allows much less oil to be used, and therefore, food stays healthier without being saturated in cooking oil. It also is the best shape for turning the vegetables for that perfect stir-fry. The wok can also be used for purposes like braising, steaming stewing, and deep-frying, and the preparation of soups.
Many American versions of the wok have been modified to accommodate the American stove with a slightly flat bottom to set on the burner. A ring is also placed on the bottom to allow the wok stability while cooking. The American cook will also have their choice of handles; loop handles and stick handles will be the first decision to be made. The loop is the common choice of many chefs and is made of bare metal. Stick handles on the other hand are made of carbon steel and often coated with Teflon for safety purposes. The double-handed wok is also much more popular than a single handle. There are also a variety of different sizes available; 36 centimeters is a good size for family purposes; the larger sizes are used for restaurant kitchens.
For the home cook still nervous about trying their hand at Chinese cooking, there are a few more options. Many cooking classes have popped up throughout the country to teach Chinese cooking techniques. Whether for just one Saturday afternoon, or a weekly class, this is a great way to learn a few things about traditional Chinese culture, while learning to master the art of Chinese food. The most important thing is to not be afraid of the technique; while it’s vastly different from what goes on in American kitchens, it is for that reason that Chinese cooking has become such a staple in American culture.
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