Kitchen Tips

The Secrets to Cooking With a Wok Plus Five Easy Wok Recipes

For authentic Asian cuisine at home, learn the secrets to cooking with a wok, a must-have kitchen utensil in any kitchen. Once you have mastered how to cook with a wok, try your hand at five easy wok recipes.

Seasoning and Caring For Your Wok

Step 1: season your wok

When you buy a shiny new wok, you need to season it before you use it. First, scrub the wok with hot soapy water and steel wool to remove any film from the factory. Rinse with hot water, then place it over a low heat for 1-2 minutes until all the water has evaporated. Turn the heat up to high and heat the wok for 30-60 seconds until piping-hot, then remove from the heat and pour in 2 tablespoons of oil, swirling to coat – be sure to have your windows open and the exhaust on as things can get smoky! Continue this process until your wok develops a brown or black coating. If desired, gently stir-fry ginger and spring onions in the oil to help remove any metallic flavour. You can read more about how to season a wok here.

Step 2: heating your wok

Be sure to have all of your ingredients chopped and ready to roll prior to heating the wok. Bring any meat to room temperature. Heat the wok over medium-high heat. The easiest way to tell if the wok is hot enough is to flick a drop of water into the wok – if the water evaporates immediately, you’re good to go.

Step 3: cooking in your wok

Always add cold oil to the hot wok. Use a peanut oil or vegetable oil that can withstand high heat, avoiding olive oil or butter. Cook your ingredients in batches, gently rocking the wok to create movement, and stir-frying the produce with a wok chan (flat-bottomed spoon). It’s important not to overcrowd the wok, otherwise the temperature will plummet and you’ll begin to braise, rather than fry, the food.

Step 4: cleaning your wok

Always rinse your wok under hot water. Don’t be tempted to use any soap, but if any food remains stuck to the sides, sprinkle liberally with salt and then rub with paper towel. Rinse your wok then place on the stove over low heat until dry. Dip a paper towel in oil, then rub it over the surface of the wok before storing. This will ensure it doesn’t rust.

Now that your wok is seasoned, turn up the heat with these classic wok recipes from across Asia.

Char kway teow

This Malaysian hawker classic draws on the heat of the wok for a smoky, charry flavour in this authentic char kway teow.

Malaysian Char Kway Teow Recipe

Singaporean mee goreng with prawns

A popular streetfood snack in Singapore, this easy mee goreng teams springy eggs noodles with plump prawns and crunchy vegetables.

mee goreng recipe

Honey soy beef stir-fry

Sweet and savoury, this Chinese-style honey soy beef stir-fry is sure to become a family favourite.

Honey Soy Beef Stir Fry recipe

Spicy stir-fried chicken with basil and green beans

No Thai kitchen is complete without a wok, used to whip up tempting dishes such as this spicy stir-fry with chicken, basil and chilli.

Thai Spicy Stir-Fried Chicken with Beans Recipe

Stir-fried beef with lemongrass

To make an aromatic Vietnamese dinner, combine fragrant lemongrass with sweet chilli, soy and coriander in this simple beef stir-fry.

Asian beef recipes: Pick the right meat cuts

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