How many of you special cooks do any Wok cooking? What are your favorite healthy recipes when using a Wok? What cookbook can you suggest as helpful in learning Wok cooking? Many thanks for your thoughts.
I'm very much a beginner to wok cookery. Just recently got a stove with high BTU burners, and I'm learning. (From what I understand, if the temp isn't high, you might as well not use a wok because you're steaming the food instead of frying it.)
A cookbook that is fascinating is the one at the link, 'The Breath of a Wok'. I honestly haven't cooked recipes out of it, but it helped me understand the basics of wok cooking.
I generally don't have a specific recipe, but use whatever is around. First get the wok hot,hot,hot, add a squirt of oil (I like grapeseed oil for this application, and keep it in a plastic squirt bottle for this), cook the meat in batches so it doesn't lower the temp, then add the veggies in order of toughness. Firmer stuff first, softer stuff last. Squash like zucchini first, then mushrooms, then greens; season with soy sauce, maybe a little fish sauce, and sriracha to taste. If you want, add some potato starch or corn starch to make the juices into a glaze.
Here is a link that might be useful: breath of wok
If you have ever hung out over at the Appliance forum, you will be under the impression that wok cooking is impossible unless you have the resources to install a mega-high-BTU range in your kitchen. That is a gross over-simplification. Many of the dishes served in Chinese restaurants are prepared over powerful burners whose output is well beyond what is rated for household installation, and the closest you can get to that type of cooking at home requires an expensive appliance that gets as close to that BTU output as is allowed. That is the type of cooking outlined above by arley.
However, all of my Asian friends cook at home using woks on standard ordinary, even builder grade cooking appliances. "Wok cooking" is a very broad term, and encompasses a wide variety of methods and styles. Home-style wok cooking involves lots of steaming, stewing, and braising, as well as stir-frying.
Here is the Pad Thai recipe that I make:
Chicken Pad Thai Fried Noodles
This recipe is a combination of several recipes that I found, and the flavor seems to be authentic, mainly because of the sauce.
8 oz. dried rice noodles
12 oz. chicken meat (or shrimp)
3 tbsp corn starch (or flour)
1/8 tsp cayenne (optional)
3 tbsp grape seed oil or peanut oil, approx.
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced or chopped
1 small bunch bok choy, leaves reserved separately (or one cup bean sprouts)
1/3 cup Thai preserved cabbage, rinsed and drained - press out all excess moisture
2-3 Serrano peppers, thinly sliced, seeds removed, if desired
3 oz. Savory baked tofu or tempeh, sliced 1/8" thick and cut into 1/2" x 1/4" pieces
2 tbsp dried shrimp, ground
2 eggs, lightly beaten with
2 tsp soy sauce
4-5 green onions, thinly sliced, including green parts
1/4 cup chopped basil
2 tbsp tamarind paste
1/4 cup water
1 tsp granulated sugar
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
2-1/2 tbsp Thai fish sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 tbsp Thai curry paste or 1 tbsp Chinese chili paste*
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
coarsely chopped dry roasted unsalted peanuts (optional - I serve these on the side)
Place the rice noodles in a large bowl, cover them with cold water, and allow them to soak for about one hour. After they have soaked, drain them well and dry with a clean dish towel or paper towels. Keep them covered until you are ready to fry them. I dried them in a salad spinner that I lined with paper towels, and them I left them in the spinner, covered, until I was ready to use them.
While the noodles are soaking, make the sauce. Dissolve the tamarind paste in water, using a pestle or other blunt object (such as wooden stomper for a meat grinder) and then strain through a coarse strainer or run through a food mill. Scrap the softened paste off the bottom of the strainer/mill, and put into a pyrex measuring cup or small bowl. Add the sugar, 1 tbsp soy sauce, fish sauce, lime juice, rice vinegar, curry paste (or chili paste), and cilantro and stir to combine. At this point you can taste it for seasoning and add a bit more soy sauce if you think it needs it. Set aside.
Cut the chicken into small, bite-sized pieces. Combine the cayenne with the cornstarch, and dredge the chicken pieces in the mixture.
Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a wok. Stir-fry the garlic for about one minute, and add the chicken pieces, one at a time. Stir with very long stir-fry chop sticks. When the chicken is done remove and set aside. Leave whatever oil remains in the wok.
Make sure the rest of the ingredients have been sliced/chopped and are lined up in order of addition. Remove the green part of the bok choy and reserve it chopped with the green onions. In order add the
Bok choy (white part only)
preserved cabbage, rinsed and drained
baked tofu or tempeh
drained rice noodles
Stirring with the long chopsticks to distribute evenly. You may need to add the extra oil as you go along. After the noodles have been brought up to temperature (about 3-4 minutes or so), add the sauce, stir to combine, and push the entire mixture to one side of the wok with a wooden spoon. Add the egg/soy sauce mixture to make scrambled eggs in the bottom of the wok. When the eggs are soft set, stir them into the rest of the mixture, using the chop sticks.
Lastly, add the green onions and bok choy greens, fry for about one minute more, and then add the basil and reserved chicken. Serve with garnishes on the side or on top. I omit the peanuts for myself, and I serve the peanuts in a small dish at the table for others to add as they like.
*If you use Chinese chili paste, you may want to omit the Serrano peppers. The Thai curry paste that I use (Prik Kaeng) is not very hot, and is made from chili extract, lemon grass, garlic, onion, and shrimp paste.
If some of the ingredients are difficult for you to find, you can probably omit them, and the dish will be okay but perhaps less authentic, depending on what you leave out. If you cannot find tamarind paste, you can substitute a different form of tamarind, such as a watered down sauce, but you will probably need to increase the amount. I like the paste best and buy it at an Indonesian market that sells many types of tamarind. You can substitute sauerkraut for the Thai preserved cabbage, and if you cannot find the dried shrimp, you can increase the amount of fish sauce.
I posted this sometime ago. Take a look and let me know what you think.
Here is a link that might be useful: Don't Stir