A Wok ( Chinese 炒鍋 / 炒锅 , Pinyin chǎoguō , Jyutping caau 2 where one just 锅 / 鍋 , Guo , Jyutping where 1 ) is a tall, continuously curved pan , in the Chinese and the South and Southeast Asian cuisine to belongs to the most important cooking utensils. In many cases, it is a universal cooking utensil that can represent a pot, pan, stew, deep fryer and other cookware on the heat source. In Indonesia it is known as Wadjan , in Malaysia as Kuali and in the Philippines as Kawali (small wok) and Kawa (large wok). The Indian Karhai (also Kadhai or Karahi , Hindi कढाई kaṛhāī ) is similar , but has a flat bottom. The term wok ( 鑊 / 镬 , huò , Jyutping wok 6 ) comes from Cantonese .
In the wok, unlike western pans and pots, there is no difference between the bottom and the wall - the whole vessel is shaped as a spherical cap . Traditionally, woks have two opposite handles, one of which is often designed as a handle. Woks are traditionally used on small, open-top charcoal stoves (nowadays mostly special gas burners or electric cookers), when opened they have good stability and can be heated strongly with little fuel. The heat is particularly concentrated in the center, so that the desired temperature range can be selected by moving the food. Woks are used in a variety of ways for frying , stewing , deep-frying , braising , boiling , blanching , smoking , roasting and steaming . The most important cooking method is “stir-frying”, also known as “ sautéing ”, in which the ingredients are briefly seared and quickly cooked with constant movement.
Woks are traditionally made of cast iron , but today they are also made of sheet steel , carbon steel , stainless steel or aluminum . Simple woks made of sheet steel are pressed or pulled from sheet metal, high-quality woks are shaped with a hammer . The diameter ranges from about 30 centimeters to over a meter.
For western households that do not have special cooking areas for woks, woks with a flattened base, some with a non-stick coating, are available, which are also suitable for conventional electric and gas stoves , and some are also suitable for induction stoves .
Usual western electric hotplates and gas stoves do not develop the power of special wok stoves, which usually have a maximum power of more than five to ten kW , while the power of western stoves rarely exceeds 2.2 kW or 3.6 kW for gas stoves. In addition, the heat from the wok burner is distributed along the outer wall with the hot air flowing upwards, while an electric stove only heats the bottom of the wok. Modern restaurant and commercial kitchens in China use special induction hobs to heat the wok. A cooking appliance that looks like a wok, heated on a flat hob and provided with an internal coating, will never produce the result of a "real" wok with outputs of less than 5 kW, only that of a pot with a curved bottom.
In western kitchens, the use of a wok on a suitable stove only makes sense for “stir-frying”. The high preparation temperatures and the type of preparation are necessary here for the special aroma of the food (see Wok-Hei ). Other types of preparation, which usually also require lower temperatures, can be carried out in cookware such as those in a western kitchen.
However, a wok can very effectively replace a deep fat fryer if a special device is not available.
Woks, which are traditionally used on hotplates with high power and heat, are usually not provided with special coatings as they cannot withstand the high temperatures. A non-stick coating is also not necessary if the wok was "burned in" before it was used for the first time. This is done after thorough cleaning by heating to approx. 300 ° C (blue tempering color ) and subsequent rubbing with a suitable oil (e.g. peanut oil). A well-burnt and used wok is cleaned exclusively with hot water (without additives) and a broom made of bamboo strips . Subsequent oiling (also here e.g. peanut oil) prevents rust.
Most of the dishes in the wok also do not burn because the protein responsible for burning is very quickly denatured by the high heat, which creates a "natural non-stick coating".
Wok-Hei , also: Wokhei ( 鑊 氣 / 镬 气 , huòqì , Jyutping wok 6 hei 3 ) or Guoqi ( 鍋 氣 / 锅 气 , guōqì ) describes the taste, smell and aroma that is given to a meal when it is prepared in a wok under the influence of high temperatures above the 200 ° C limit. The expression can be translated as “wok aroma”. In order to achieve the special taste, the food must be stirred in a burnt-in wok with constant movement and cooked in a very short time. From a chemical point of view, the processes of caramelizing and Maillard reactions are responsible for Wok-Hei .
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