7 essential tools for Chinese cooking
Chinese food is one of those things that one can easily get used to in life. After many years of enthusiastic eating at Chinese restaurants, some firmly decide that they would also explore the secrets of these delicious cuisines by themselves. Inspired primarily by Jamie Oliver, whose show we all religiously watch every week, people venture out to experiment, study cookbooks, and read articles online. What we can say with certainty now is that with very little patience, one can cook excellent Chinese food.
You may still need some basic accessories to cook Chinese and Asian food, but once you invest in it, you can easily manage it at no extra cost. Here is the list of the essential ones:
A wok is round cookware that originates in China and its use has spread throughout Asia. Traditional woks have a rounded bottom and if you decide to buy one, you will also need to get a special holder that secures the wok above the stove burner. Modern woks have a flat bottom and can be used easily in contemporary kitchens. Due to the shape of the wok and the large cooking surface, the food is cooked quickly and at high temperatures.
The most common materials used to make wok are carbon steel and cast iron. Carbon steel woks are lighter and quicker to respond to changes in temperature and are also easily obtainable and inexpensive - in larger retailers, they can be purchased for a reasonable price. Teflon woks are also available on the market, but we would not recommend buying them. Keep reading to find out why.
What is specific about food stored in a wok, Wok hei, is that it covers everything from smell, taste and texture. Such foods are covered with a crispy crust and are reminding us of grilled dishes. To get Wok hei, you will need to season your wok before first use.
To season the wok, place it over high heat and pour 2-3 tablespoons of sunflower or other oil of neutral taste into it. Take the folded paper towel and fold the bottom and sides of the wok with hot oil using a wooden cooker and a paper towel in a circular motion (taking care not to burn yourself) for 2 to 3 minutes.
Your wok will create a thin layer of patina that you should never wipe, scrape or attempt to remove with aggressive cleaning agents. It is this patina that gives Wok hei. After using the wok, it is enough to wipe with a paper towel or rinse briefly with a jet of water and then wipe dry with a cloth. Any new cooking in the wok will only spice it up extra. The teflon wok cannot be seasoned and therefore cannot give a Wok hei taste of your food.
Wooden Kitchen Accessories
To keep your wok from getting damaged, it might be a good idea to get a wooden spatula and a wooden handle. A pair of Chinese chopsticks will also be useful for grasping and turning food pieces in the wok when frying or baking.
Small accessories such as bowls, chopsticks, wooden accessories and wide knives are not necessary but are practical.
Chinese cuisine requires a lot of chopping and cutting of food, and a sharp knife will be an irreplaceable help. It is a great option if you can also get a Chinese cook knife shaped like an ax. The knife is used in Chinese cuisine, except for cutting, but also for kneading the garlic (using the sides) and softening the meat that hits the blunt side (opposite the blade). In addition, an ax can also be used to cut bones when preparing meat.
The lid will come in handy for cooking soups, stews and other things that require a longer crunch over low heat. It is also needed to allow you to cook steam in your wok.
In Asian cuisine, a traditional bamboo pot is used for steam cooking, which is put into a wok filled with boiling water. The advantage of such a container is that the floors are "stacked" on the base and so it is very easy to separate different foods, with a minimal amount of dirty dishes. Due to its special fabrication, steam circulates freely inside the bamboo container.
Of course, any other method of steam cooking is also a great substitute for this type of pan, and electric steam cookers are becoming more widespread.
Chinese food is traditionally eaten with chopsticks so that the rice bowl is brought to the mouth and transported directly to the mouth with the help of chopsticks. Before serving, food is always cut into bite-sized pieces, if cooked in larger pieces. Sticks are made from various materials such as bamboo, wood, porcelain, metal, ivory and even bone. If you are in no way able to master the stick-holding technique, well you can use a fork.
Since rice is the most common addition in Chinese cuisine, if you are not in the habit of cooking rice on the stove, consider buying an electric rice cooker like this.