The first use you think of when you hear about woks is almost certainly stir-frying. However, with woks having been around for a very long time and being the mainstay of Chinese and other Asian cooking, they have many uses.
Woks are cooking vessels with a rounded bottom and sloping sides that aids the cooking process. The origination of the wok came out of necessity. The shortage of fuel for longer cooking processes was a problem. The wok cooks at extremely high temperatures for a short time. The secret is intense heat, but controllable heat.
Today woks are made with flat bottoms as well as the ancient rounded bottom types. The flat bottom woks are better on electric stoves or glass type stove tops, while the rounded bottoms are great with gas stoves.
Many materials are also used in wok making and it is largely a personal preference. Determine which material will work best for you.
Many Asian cooks swear by the old family cast iron wok. Modern glass top stoves work well for the iron enamel wok, but this wok does well on the gas stove too. Typically, a carbon steel wok sets costs about £50 and the stainless steel sets are about £70. The stainless steel wok is 5 ply with 3 ply of it inner layers being aluminium. Aluminium is known for its heat conducting qualities. Cast iron woks, 14" in diameter at the top, sell from about £10. They will need to be seasoned, but they will outlive most of the family.
What is so special about wok cooking? The shorter cooking times seal in juices, save energy and create delicious flavours. The lean Asians are a testimony to the wok cooking with its low cholesterol cuisine. In wok cooking you can steam, stir fry, simmer and deep fry. Even in the deep frying you will be able to avoid the longer cooking times which lead to more oil absorption meaning higher calories. Various accessories can be purchased along with your wok to insure that your new cooking techniques are done properly. For instance, your steamer basket should be 12" in diameter to fit a 14" wok.
The preparation of the food to be cooked needs to be done in advance. Cutting and slicing and knowing which foods take the longer cooking times is very important. Buy a wok cooking book and research your new recipes on the Internet. Your new cooking utensil has opened up a new culinary door. Learn which oils suit your wok cooking and which do not. Learn the techniques for a steaming basket and how to steam a meal on a plate lowered into your new wok.
Healthy meals, faster meal preparation, and delicious food are three good reasons to get a wok that undertakes many cooking functions. Every kitchen has space to incorporate one more cooking vessel and you may even replace several pots with the purchase of the wok. Shop for one that will suit your needs and the cooker you use. Happy cooking!
Have a look at the extensive Information on Woks, including Wok Reviews at Woks (for the UK) and Wok Reviews (for the USA)
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Andrew_Emerson
Andrew Emerson - EzineArticles Expert Author