Mastering the Wok

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Grace Young discusses the technique and tradition of stir-frying. Her cookbook Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge: The Ultimate Guide to Mastery, with Authentic Recipes and Stories shares more than 100 classic stir-fry recipes from the great Cantonese stir-fry masters, to the culinary customs of: Sichuan, Hunan, Shanghai, Beijing, Fujian, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Singapore, and Malaysia.


Grace Young
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Comments [12]

Wendy from California

I am Cantonese who used to live in Hong Kong and I'll try to share my experience of cooking with a wok.

A Cantonese wok is always round bottom. There are varieties with flat bottom to accommodate the American stove ranges to a metal stand for using a round bottom wok on such ranges. Check out in San Francisco that sells authentic Chinese woks.

The effective way of using a wok is to cook food rapidly (so that veggies are crunchy) on high heat and you have to keep tossing the food in the wok. With the help of the round bottom, it's easy to push your hot ingredients up and the ones on the side would fall into the center where the heat is. I think the western way of sautéing is a lot more mellow. In the kitchens of Chinese restaurants, you can always see chefs making a stirfry and the wok would go up in flame when rice wine is added. The food smells and tastes different when it's cooked in such high heat. It's not so easy to replicate that in domestic kitchens.

Nov. 17 2010 02:25 PM
br from Fairfield, CT

So where are the sample recipes you promised to post?

Aug. 26 2010 07:07 PM
barbara wentz from stamford ct

I want to send my son, who's a wonderful cook but has a poor quality wok, a new wok for his birthday. I've already noted that it should be flat bottom, 14". What is the best material?

Aug. 26 2010 12:58 PM

I've never understood how to roperly temper a wok. At least I think so. Is a stainless steel wok OK?

Aug. 26 2010 12:58 PM
Linda from NYC

I don't have room for a wok on my stove. What do you think of electric woks?

Aug. 26 2010 12:57 PM

What is the difference between stir frying and

Aug. 26 2010 12:54 PM
Suzannenyc from UWS

I love stir fry cooking but in an older NY apartment without an exhaust fan in the kitchen, the residue from cooking in hot oil (from the smoke if not direct spattering) gets all over the stove and permeates the walls and ceiling. In the effort to keep bugs at bay, I no longer stir fry in a wok, though I do saute frequently. And clean up religiously.

Aug. 26 2010 12:53 PM
Bill M from New Rochelle

Deareest Grace,

Two things I used to see in Cantonese Chinese Restaurants, but see no more is those pointy anaise-flavored things; and Egg-Foo Young.

Why did these go away?

Aug. 26 2010 12:52 PM
Jason from brooklny

Is there an oil preference for cooking with a wok?

Aug. 26 2010 12:50 PM
PL Hayes from Aberystwyth

English food of the '70s bad? Pah! At least we don't batter and deep fry our Mars bars like the Scots. ;-)

Aug. 26 2010 12:49 PM
jj from NY


Aug. 26 2010 12:46 PM
MSH from UES

My stir-fry always turns out a little watery - I assume that it due to the temperature, but what can I do to fix this?

Aug. 26 2010 12:42 PM

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