Choosing and seasoning your wok

Choosing and seasoning your wok

Choosing a wok can be an overwhelming task. They come in a multitude of different materials, sizes, and makes. Rather than reviewing each type, I’m just going to cut to the chase. The best woks for the average household are 14″ in size (not too big or small), made of carbon steel, and hand hammered. Check that the sides are thick and strong enough that they don’t bend when you push on them. Luckily, that combination of wok is actually quite inexpensive (I got mine for $13 CAD), despite being hammered out by hand. Depending on the kind of stove you have, you ┬ámay also need to get one with a slightly flattened bottom so it sits on your stove range. That said, you can get circular wok burner rings for the traditional round bottom woks. It’s also best to avoid the non-stick woks. Not only are you usually paying a lot for these pans, the non-stick surface doesn’t do well under high heat, which is one of the biggest benefits of cooking with a wok.

For a more comprehensive break down of the different types of woks, I really like the overview written on Serious Eats.

Once you have your wok, it needs to be seasoned. There are different ways to achieve the same result. This is the method I like best.

What you need:

  • scouring pad or steel scrubber
  • lard or a high smoking point oil

Optional:

My love for Pad Thai

pad thaiPad thai is one of my favourite dishes that I can rarely get enough of. While in Thailand, my husband and I would frequently walk down the street from where we were staying to get dishes upon dishes of homemade pad thai made before our very eyes. The ingredients would vary slightly depending on the lady cooking for us, but the result was always delicious. What’s more, the dishes usually cost around $1 to $2 CAD. It inspired me to try to make my own.

The other night, I finally tried my hand at making it. This recipe outlines how I made my pad thai and is simple to follow and straight forward, but does take some time. I’d recommend setting aside about 2 to 3 hours for prep and cooking time if it’s your first time making it – about 1-2 hours once you become more practiced.

Ingredients: (serves 5)

  • 3/4 of a package of dried pad thai rice noodles (package will say “pad thai” on it)
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons of dried tamarind powder or 3 tablespoons of pulp (add more if you like a touch more of a tangy, sour flavour in your pad thai)
  • 1 cup boiling hot water
  • 1/2 cup light soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons of Sriracha
  • 1 bunch of green onions (sometimes called scallions), chopped to 1 to 2 inches in length
  • 1/2 a large carrot, finely sliced into strips or quarters
  • 5 shallots, finely sliced in thin strips
  • 1 package of firm tofu (or deep fried tofu), cut into inch-long strips
  • 1/2 cup peanut oil
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (you can also use a full cup of either peanut or vegetable oil)
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 cups bean sprouts, washed and drained

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