So, you've finally taken the plunge and purchased a wok. And not just any wok, either. Adhering to the wisdom of cookbook authors such as Martin Yan and Ken Hom, you've purchased a 14-inch, carbon-steel wonder that the host of "Yan Can Cook" himself would be proud to use.
Driving home, you pass the time dreaming up new and exotic stir-fry combinations. After seasoning the wok -- painstakingly following the manufacturer's instructions -- you give it a place of honor in the cupboard, next to the expensive crystal punch set Uncle Harry gave you for a wedding present.
And there it sits. Unless you're whipping up a quick and easy stir-fry for dinner or wowing guests with your culinary prowess by dropping batter-coated chicken balls into a bath of sizzling oil, the wok remains in the cupboard. In other words, you use it only when cooking Chinese food.
Even if your wok gets a lot of use when cooking stir-fries or other Asian food, it has so much more potential. Consider these unique ways to make better use of this versatile utensil.
- With its wide top and plenty of room, a wok is great for tossing a salad.
- Woks are great for making taco filling or any of the rice-and-pea sort of dishes like arroz con pollo or paella.
- Since some find using a wok on an electric stove cumbersome and inefficient, use it in a completely un-culinary way as an elegant flower pot to decorate a garden area.
- A 14-inch wok is perfect for mixing batters and kneading dough.
- A wok is great for scrambling eggs, especially in large quantities. The eggs cook almost instantaneously, with no sticking, even if you've pre-cooked some vegetables before adding the eggs to the wok.
- Use an electric wok for beef fondue. It beats a regular fondue set -- no denatured alcohol burning (and smelling), and the surface area is bigger. It works like a champ! Just be sure to watch that no one trips over the electric cord.
- When cooking a Mexican-style meal, set your wok on very low heat and use it to keep tortillas warm.
- It makes a dandy room freshener -- put some water and a piece of lemon, orange, lime, cinnamon stick, etc, and put it on low heat.
- Put mesquite chips in a wok and lay a rack over it. It imparts a quick smoked flavor to just about anything. Just make sure you have a good exhaust fan and putting foil in the bottom makes cleanup a LOT easier.
- Use it as a steamer by placing an empty tuna fish can with both ends cut off in the bottom with water. Place a pan on top of the can and you're good to go.
- You can roast green coffee beans in a wok, though you need to do so outside (lots of smoke).
- A wok is great for steaming lobster.
Woks are great for making taco filling or any of the rice-and-pea sort of dishes...
Since using a wok on an electric stove is cumbersome and inefficient, my wok now serves as an elegant flower pot, decorating my garden area, resplendent with impatience, luxuriating in its "new" life.
A 14-inch wok is perfect for mixing batters and kneading dough.
A wok is great for scrambling eggs, especially in large quantities (although I've used the wok for as few as three eggs). The eggs cook almost instantaneously, with no sticking, even if you've pre-cooked some vegetables before adding the eggs to the wok.
I have two stainless, lightweight woks on hooks in my kitchen -- one 14 inches, the other about 8 or 10 inches. I am using them constantly for mixing things. Last evening I was mincing some leftover beef for a spread for sandwiches, and I used the small one. When I make meat loaf - down comes the bigger one. When you have to season or flour stuff - onions, potatoes, whatever - nothing beats these woks. I sometimes put them into the sink (over the drain which helps stabilize them) and use the big one for cutting corn off the ear.
We use an electric wok for beef fondue. It beats a regular fondue set - no denatured alcohol burning (and smelling), and a bigger pot. Works like a champ! Just be sure to watch that no one trips over the electric cord...
From Darhl Stultz
When I'm having a Mexican-style get together I use mine (set on very low heat) to keep tortillas warm.
It makes a dandy room freshener - put some water and a piece of lemon, orange, lime, cinnamon stick, etc, and put it on low heat.
I have also put mesquite chips in mine, lay a rack over it, and used it to impart a quick mesquite smoked flavor to quail (a la the Chinese dish where you use tea instead of mesquite and chicken instead of quail). Just make sure you have a good exhaust fan. Also, putting foil in the bottom makes cleanup a LOT easier.
Three Suggestions From Craig Moore
I've often used my wok (electric with silverstone lining) as a steamer. I put an empty tuna fish can, both ends cut out, a pan on top of that, and a little water on the bottom. I still do halibut this way, with a little bit on ginger and garlic.
From Ellen Scott
You can roast green coffee beans in a wok, though you need to do so outside (lots of smoke).
From Melanie Uy
A wok is great for steaming lobster.
A good use for a wok is to make spaghetti. People often make the mistake of putting sauce on spaghetti. Italians always put spaghetti into a sauce and then combine the two. A wok is ideal for this - the sauce can be cooked in the wok while the spaghetti is boiling, and then the drained spaghetti can be added.
Finally, for myself, I find nothing beats a wok for preparing an omelet, whether it's a plain cheese omelet or a western-style omelet loaded with ham and vegetables.