A wok is a large, bowl-shaped frying pan, originally from China, that is typically used for Asian-style cooking. It may be used for braising, deep frying, steaming, and stewing, but is most often used for stir frying. Frying with a wok can be difficult because the pan may be hard to handle due to the round bottom, but for many people it is the still best way to cook certain foods and is worth the effort it takes. Purchasing a base for the wok can help to add stability and make cooking much easier.
When stir frying with a wok, it is usually easiest to do things in an organized way; this insures the best results. All ingredients should be cut to size and ready to use before the oil is heated. Foods will cook much better if the pieces are of a consistent size. Add a small amount of oil to the pan, and then swirl it around so that it coats the entire bottom and partway up the sides. It is important to make sure that the wok is very hot before adding any food.
Once the oil is hot, if there are any special seasonings to be added, this is the time to put them into the pan so that they will flavor the rest of the food. The next step in frying with a wok is to add all of the vegetables, which must be stirred continually, without stopping, until they are completely cooked. Typically at this point, vegetables are removed from the pan and the meat is dropped in and cooked in the same manner as the vegetables. It is important to make sure the meat is thoroughly cooked. Add the vegetables back to the wok, along with any sauce or additional seasonings, and stir everything together.
In addition to stir frying, deep frying can be accomplished with a wok; however, there are some important tips to keep in mind for best results. Be sure to put in enough vegetable oil that the food will be completely covered, then use a medium to high heat and make sure the oil is hot before frying with a wok. Test the oil by dropping in a bit of food, and if it immediately bubbles, sizzles, and begins to float, the oil is ready.
Don’t overload the hot oil with too much food or the temperature will drop and the food won’t cook properly. Use foods that have been out of the refrigerator for a while so they are not too cold, and have everything in fairly small pieces, no bigger than chicken wings or egg rolls. Larger food items are not ideal for frying with a wok and should be cooked in something else to cook thoroughly.