We love delectable stir-fried wok recipes as much as the next person, but we hate it when a solid, dependable wok gets thrown back in the cupboard after cooking, and overlooked for the rest of the week.
We're here to tell you that woks aren't just for stir-fries. No, they have so much more to offer than this. With their large surface area and high heat grade, it's not so much a question of 'what to cook in a wok,' rather than 'what can you not cook in a wok'?
In this article, we aim to inspire you to start using your cast iron wok for more than stir fry!
Woks are those big, heavy pans that you most commonly see being used by chefs to flash-fry, or stir-fry, meat, and vegetables. Woks are deep dishes that have a huge surface area, which allows you to space heat evenly over the entire cooking area.
Woks can take a lot of heat, while they don't require much oil at all (especially if the wok is well seasoned). The high sides allow the ingredients for wok recipes to be tossed up in the air and back down safely into the pan, while the large size make woks more than suitable for cooking up large quantities of food for your hungry friends and family!
A wok's large surface area and its ability to quickly flash cook food at high temperatures, does make it the perfect utensil for stir-fries. The thing is, though, wok recipes can be so much more than this!
We'll even go as far as to say that you can cook everything in a wok (almost!). Okay, so you'd struggle to bake a cake, but recipes for a wok can involve so many different cooking techniques. You can boil, fry, steam, smoke, or even just use a wok for tossing salads!
Wok food can be wonderfully versatile, and we really do encourage you to get creative!
To get the creative juices flowing (and those tasty wok juices too when you start cooking up a feast!), let's take a look at some of the best ways that you can employ a wok when you're cooking at home.
Here are a few of our favorite ways to cook in a wok
Deep-drying is a cooking technique that works fantastically well in a wok, because not only is the wok itself a very deep pan, but it can take a huge amount of heat.
Fill your wok with the required quantity of oil and let it heat up, before deep-frying your potatoes, your shrimp, your squid, or anything else!
Given their large size, woks are perfect for steaming too, and you can keep the Asian-theme going by steaming up a feast of dumplings to go with your stir-fry.
Simply take a suitable container, keep it covered, and place it in the bottom of the wok, semi-submerged in boiling water. When it's hot enough, add your dumplings to the steamer and let them cook.
You can get really elaborate with your cooking too, and turn your wok into a home-made smoker for cooking up your favorite smoky-flavored meats.
Line the bottom of your wok with a layer of tin foil, and start heating up a few ingredients to give your food the smoky taste you're looking for (you can use anything from burnt rice to coffee beans!). Place a rack or grill over the foil and get cooking.
Flash-frying is the classic way to use a wok. Heat your wok up to a high temperature, add a drizzle of oil to the pan, and cook your stir-fry ingredients quicky, at a high temperature.
Flash-frying s a great way to keep in the taste and the goodness of the food, and it's a super-quick way to cook up a delicious meal!
You can cook up a delicious braised-beef stew using just a wok!
Use the pan itself to heat the meat, before making use of the high sides to stew the braised meat at a low temperature to produce the perfect dish.
You don't even need to apply heat to your wok if you're looking for a tasty and healthy salad for dinner.
Woks are the perfect size for tossing salads, especially given their high sides, which will ensure that you don't toss your greens out of the pan and onto the floor!
You can even use a wok to cook popcorn at home!
Add a little oil to the bottom of your wok, throw in some corn kernels, and cover the top to stop them popping all over your kitchen!
We absolutely adore our Mexican food, and woks can come in handy on Taco Tuesday!
They are not only great for cooking up taco fillings quickly, but you can use woks for cooking or warming up the tortillas too. Keep the bottom of the wok dry, heat the pan up to medium heat, and slap down the tortillas for a minute on either side!
You can even use woks for making pasta. It's not very orthodox, but the large size of the pan allows you to boil a large quantity of pasta in a wok.
Once the pasta is boiled, you can also use the wok's great surface area for cooking up dishes such as linguine or even a bolognese sauce to go with your spaghetti!
The best recipes for woks will always require a well-seasoned wok, especially if you are flash-frying or searing, because you don't want your food to stick and burn to the bottom of the pan.
Many woks come pre-seasoned these days, making them much more versatile and making it much easier to prepare those diverse recipes for wok without worrying too much.
Regularly seasoning your wok, though, won't harm the cooking process. All you need to do is heat a layer of oil onto the surface of the pan. This happens naturally when you cook with oil, but you can also add a layer of seasoning by coating the cooking surface of your pan in a light layer of oil after cleaning it before baking the wok in the oven at 400°F for one hour.
Cast iron woks are a fantastic piece of cooking equipment to have in your kitchen because they really are incredibly versatile.
Woks aren't just for cooking that classic stir-fry, and you can use woks for cooking up different meals as diverse as a slow-cooked stew or prawn linguine! Why not bookmark this handy guide to wok cooking for later?