The traditional Asian equivalent of the frying pan is a wok. It is made of thin steel so that when heated, the wall instantly becomes hot. The wok is ideally suited to instantly heat up to a very high temperature: any food in it is fried until cooked in just minutes.
The traditional Asian wok has no bottom: it is a rounded cone that cannot be placed on the table or the burner. Usually, it is placed on the hole of an open coal stove or fire, using special metal spacers. Modern Asians, although they love to eat in street cafés, cook at home on gas stoves, which is why a flat bottom carbon steel wok available by the link https://yosukata.com/carbon-steel-woks/flat-bottom-carbon-steel-wok/ has appeared in recent decades.
A long handle is needed so that you can quickly turn the wok during cooking without being burned by hot drops of oil: a spatula for stirring, if used, is also taken with a long wooden handle.
There is no and cannot be a non-stick coating on a classic wok: it heats up to a temperature of 270-300 °C, which none of the existing protective films can withstand. Instead, you need to properly “age” the wok and care for it, then nothing will stick to the walls.
An Asian chef doesn’t need a thermometer. He will understand that it is time to send products (vegetables, noodles, pieces of meat or fish) to instant frying for one crucial sign: a characteristic white smoke will begin to rise from the hot oil.
During cooking in a wok, the so-called Leidenfrost effect occurs: the oil boils so much that it does not allow food to sink to the walls under its own weight, so the heat treatment takes place a millimeter above the metal — in deep fat, in fact.
If the wok is poorly heated, everything will stick to it and cooking will be a real torment for an inexperienced cook. No matter how much vegetable oil you add, there will be no sense: you either need to change the stove or take another frying pan.
- Ideally, you should buy a wok up to you: some options have an impressive size and weight that you will not be able to cope with.
- The wok should be made of good quality sheet steel, usually with a slightly porous matte finish.
- Make sure your gas stove has a special flame spreader that is securely fastened. Without it or with an electric stove, the whole idea, alas, will be doomed to failure.
- Wash the wok of machine oil residues with a regular detergent and a sponge of medium hardness. After that, properly ignite so that it becomes “aged” and the food does not stick during cooking.
It is crucial to remember that the products need to be cut in advance. Otherwise, you may not have time to do it later — frying each batch of vegetables or noodles will take just a minute or two.