Random Tip #1

Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF

My first random cooking tip/insight (I plan on posting these as they come to mind) –

‘Wok Breath’

Ever wonder why your stir-fries don’t turn out the same as your local Asian restaurant’s?  It comes down to what in Cantonese is called ‘wok hey’ – loosely translated as the ‘breath of the wok’.  It’s that barely-tangible smoky flavour in noodles etc. that makes stir-fries so interesting.

The secret, in a nutshell, is high heat.  The 3-fold way to achieve that –

1) Use a high pressure gas burner.  Your gas stove at home, I’m sorry to say, won’t cut it, not to mention your electric stove.  Here’s an example (regular, albeit commercial stove – output about 13,500 BTU, versus a high-pressure stove – output 49,000 BTU).  So you’re talking nearly a four-fold difference in pressure.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-POHciAbUQ?rel=0]

Solution?  Invest in a high-pressure burner at approx. AUD$200 – which you will have to use outdoors eg. in your backyard or balcony.  I get mine from Cabramatta; you can try Ebay under the search term – ‘Rambo high pressure gas burner’ – sth along those lines.  Rambo, for the record, is the brand name.

If you’re in the States, go with a turkey fryer – that’s what I used last time I was there.

2) Cook in small batches eg. 2 serves of noodles max each time.  Any more and you run the risk of lowering the cooking temperature, thereby negating point 1.

(I know at big events eg. Hyde Park Night Noodle Markets, you might have seen me do larger batches at a time – that’s because you’d be waiting all night for your noodles otherwise)

3) Get an iron wok for best heat transfer.  Forget about paying through the nose for all those fancy celebrity chef-endorsed coated, non-stick woks.  Thin iron woks are what all the Chinese chefs use – and they run you not much more than $20 at most Asian grocery stores.  Just remember to season it before use (will write on this later) and dry it well after washing.

Once you’ve got all these in place, you’re well on your way to becoming a wok-king/queen 🙂

Share and Enjoy !