Recommendations for a basic Wok and an entry level book on stir fry

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Recommendations for a basic Wok and an entry level book on stir fry

Post by Moethebartender » Sat Jun 16, 2018 3:46 pm

My cooking skills are basic at best, was thinking I might try to step it up a notch. Hoping a few of the Stew masterchefs might weigh in with some recommendations to get me started. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
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Re: Recommendations for a basic Wok and an entry level book on stir fry

Post by rider5 » Sat Jun 16, 2018 3:55 pm

What's your heat source?

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Re: Recommendations for a basic Wok and an entry level book on stir fry

Post by Moethebartender » Sat Jun 16, 2018 4:14 pm

An old beat up Kenmore range
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Re: Recommendations for a basic Wok and an entry level book on stir fry

Post by rider5 » Sat Jun 16, 2018 4:17 pm

I can't be of any help then except to say avoid teflon.

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Re: Recommendations for a basic Wok and an entry level book on stir fry

Post by NorthAmerican » Sat Jun 16, 2018 4:47 pm

Looking up wok on Wikipedia was enough to dissuade me from trying to learn more about it, but for anyone determined to try cooking in a wok it may be very interesting. As just one example, when I looked at images of woke, I saw a wok almost 14 inches in diameter for just under $5, but others of similar size were priced as high as $99.

The Wikipedia page gives you information that will explain why there's such a range in prices: Wok

Edit: Wikipedia doesn't say so directly, but its information on non-stick surfaces implies what rider5 says.
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Re: Recommendations for a basic Wok and an entry level book on stir fry

Post by Lincoln » Sat Jun 16, 2018 4:51 pm

Woks aren't that great on electric rings...gas is the way to go so i wouldn't splash out on anything too pricey...if it was me i'd head to my local chinese supermarket and consult them....i'm guessing they'll tell you 2 things;

1) Go for a wok with more of a flattened base.

2) That you suck ass.

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Re: Recommendations for a basic Wok and an entry level book on stir fry

Post by NorthAmerican » Sat Jun 16, 2018 5:33 pm

Like you, I have an old, beat-up range, except that mine is gas rather than electric. But pans sit on a flat grid over the burners, so a round-bottom pan won't work for me. Instead, I have a carbon-steel frying pan that I use for what I guess you could call pseudo stir fry cooking. It's a Matfer Bourgeat pan that's 7 inches across at the bottom, 10.25 inches across at the top. The sloped sides make flipping foods easy. This one cost me about $44 if I recall correctly. I would have bought a larger pan except that I was afraid I might not be able to handle the greater weight. Carbon-steel pans weigh much less than cast-iron pans of the same size, but they're not lightweight.

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Re: Recommendations for a basic Wok and an entry level book on stir fry

Post by DCComic » Sat Jun 16, 2018 6:14 pm

Wok.jpg
I have a 14" plain steel wok. It's maybe 35 years old and used every week.
Rinse it out in hot water, never use detergent, dry it over a high flame and oil it while it's very hot.

The trick is to get a little oil just about to smoke - vegetable oil is fine, olive oil is not. Cut the ingredients up small, put them in order so the densest get longer cooking.

There a loads of cooking demos on youtube. Ken Hom is good.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Uj9iM8at6c

Don't know how well it'll work on electric heat though.
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Re: Recommendations for a basic Wok and an entry level book on stir fry

Post by section8 » Sat Jun 16, 2018 6:25 pm

Find a restaurant supply store and buy a basic carbon-steel wok. DCComics looks about right, but I prefer the kind with a long handle on one side so I can more easily move it around if I want to.

I would also seriously consider buying a portable gas burner for the wok. Electric sucks in general, but more so for wokking.

I don't know of any starter books for stir fries. It's a really simple way to cook stuff. Timing is critical. Do all your mise en place before you fire it up so all you have to do is dump bowls/plates at the right time.
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Re: Recommendations for a basic Wok and an entry level book on stir fry

Post by NorthAmerican » Sat Jun 16, 2018 6:38 pm

DCComic wrote:
Sat Jun 16, 2018 6:14 pm
...I have a 14" plain steel wok. It's maybe 35 years old and used every week. Rinse it out in hot water, never use detergent, dry it over a high flame and oil it while it's very hot...
Those are the same instructions that came with my carbon-steel frying pan. The high heat and oil season the pan, basically making it non-stick. I guess I just worked out the order in which to cook ingredients without giving it much thought. I made a sort of fried rice dinner the other day with the following ingredients: rice that I'd cooked earlier in the day; a leftover pork chop; fresh broccoli and green onion.

I boned the pork chop, then cut it into pieces less than an inch across. I cut up the green onion and broccoli.

I put the rice in the pan with oil and stirred it over high heat until the surface started to achieve a dark, fried appearance, then tossed in the pork to reheat it, and a minute later added the green onion and broccoli. At the end I stirred in some soy sauce. My verdict: tasty, but a little too salty (overly generous with the soy sauce). The broccoli was still crisp, and a beautiful bright green.
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Re: Recommendations for a basic Wok and an entry level book on stir fry

Post by Bill Barilko » Sat Jun 16, 2018 6:45 pm

Here's mine on some trip 11 or more years ago as you can see it's nothing special and must be 30 yo by now it's used for everything-as mentioned buy a cheap unit and don't sweat the details.

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Re: Recommendations for a basic Wok and an entry level book on stir fry

Post by rider5 » Sat Jun 16, 2018 7:24 pm

section8 wrote:
Sat Jun 16, 2018 6:25 pm
Find a restaurant supply store and buy a basic carbon-steel wok. DCComics looks about right, but I prefer the kind with a long handle on one side so I can more easily move it around if I want to.

I would also seriously consider buying a portable gas burner for the wok.
Yeah. I really like my outdoor wok burner. I believe the sort of wok you mentioned is referred to as 'Peking style'. They not very expensive and work well when they get seasoned.

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Re: Recommendations for a basic Wok and an entry level book on stir fry

Post by Bill Barilko » Sat Jun 16, 2018 8:11 pm

This whole 'seasoning' thing is a red herring people devote far too much time to it my pan is washed with soapy water all the time and there is No Issue None.
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Re: Recommendations for a basic Wok and an entry level book on stir fry

Post by rider5 » Sat Jun 16, 2018 8:14 pm

I agree but it has to be done, and usually just cooking on iron will do the job and the seasoned layer is a lot tougher than people realize.

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Re: Recommendations for a basic Wok and an entry level book on stir fry

Post by Bill Barilko » Sat Jun 16, 2018 10:02 pm

rider5 wrote:
Sat Jun 16, 2018 8:14 pm
it has to be done, and usually just cooking on iron will do the job and the seasoned layer is a lot tougher than people realize.
^ idiocy.
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Re: Recommendations for a basic Wok and an entry level book on stir fry

Post by Lincoln » Sat Jun 16, 2018 10:19 pm

Yeah not sure sealing a wok does anything other than stop it rusting...

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Re: Recommendations for a basic Wok and an entry level book on stir fry

Post by mad hatter » Sat Jun 16, 2018 10:28 pm

reminds me Ive been thinking about getting a wok recently. the cast iron fry pan doesnt quite cut it for stir fies
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Re: Recommendations for a basic Wok and an entry level book on stir fry

Post by DCComic » Sat Jun 16, 2018 10:54 pm

Lincoln wrote:
Sat Jun 16, 2018 10:19 pm
Yeah not sure sealing a wok does anything other than stop it rusting...

It makes it non-stick.
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Re: Recommendations for a basic Wok and an entry level book on stir fry

Post by Bill Barilko » Sat Jun 16, 2018 11:39 pm

mad hatter wrote:
Sat Jun 16, 2018 10:28 pm
reminds me Ive been thinking about getting a wok recently. the cast iron fry pan doesnt quite cut it for stir fies
That's because it takes too long to heat up.
DCComic wrote:
Sat Jun 16, 2018 10:54 pm
Lincoln wrote:
Sat Jun 16, 2018 10:19 pm
Yeah not sure sealing a wok does anything other than stop it rusting...

It makes it non-stick.
Nothing sticks to my Wok.

That being said any thin pan does decent stir fries follow the directions as posted by Sec8 and Be Happy.
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Re: Recommendations for a basic Wok and an entry level book on stir fry

Post by rider5 » Sun Jun 17, 2018 4:39 am

I don't know what sort of idiotic jihad barilko is up to here but oil+iron is definitely a chemistry thing that helps to understand making it easier to cook with iron pans.

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Re: Recommendations for a basic Wok and an entry level book on stir fry

Post by cuchulainn » Sun Jun 17, 2018 5:45 am

I have a Korean wok made of space-age material.

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Re: Recommendations for a basic Wok and an entry level book on stir fry

Post by rider5 » Sun Jun 17, 2018 5:53 am

Is it a titanium and osmium alloy? That's all the rage right now.

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Re: Recommendations for a basic Wok and an entry level book on stir fry

Post by section8 » Sun Jun 17, 2018 7:00 am

I just use rocks heated in a fire.
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Re: Recommendations for a basic Wok and an entry level book on stir fry

Post by mad hatter » Sun Jun 17, 2018 9:49 am

ug. meat on stick in fire.
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Re: Recommendations for a basic Wok and an entry level book on stir fry

Post by desertstorm » Sun Jun 17, 2018 10:56 am

My stir fry is mostly from copying what I remember my mother did, which is a bit tricky because I haven't seen her cook from the time I was older than 10 years old. Sometimes I watch Chinese cooking show on youtube to learn more.

I now have both gas and induction, but I still use a flat bottomed cast iron one from the time when I only had flat cooking surface induction hob, my wok isn't a wok at all but a kind of cast iron soup pot from France, but traditional carbon steel wok is also a good bet. The obvious thing for anyone who cooks on flat surfaced electric/induction is finding a 'wok' that has a relative big flat bottom (!) to make contact with the heating surface.

Not this

Image

but this

Image

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Re: Recommendations for a basic Wok and an entry level book on stir fry

Post by Ledbetter » Sun Jun 17, 2018 4:10 pm

I'm trying to get my mitts on a decent wok too, but might have to drive to the capital to score one.

We make stir fry at least once a week.

This is the most popular at the house.

Using the most big ass deep fry pan that you have..

Cut up bite sized chicken, dust it with flour and into a few tbsps of hot oil, remove slightly under cooked. keep warm.

Chopped onion, red pepper with a tsp of brown sugar to caramelize quickly, then add ginger..loads of ginger, triple ginger..heh.. garlic and minced hot peppers. Very little salt, depending on your soya sauce, but also add freshly ground pepper.

I then add mushrooms, carrot and broccoli last, then return the chicken into the mix.

I use a jar to easily shake up some cornstarch, lots of soya sauce, a wee bit of sesame oil, olive oil, and either a sweet chili sauce or a bit of brown sugar.

I then add a half brick of thin chinese noodles on the bottom of the stir fry mix and add a tiny bit of water. Shake the jar of soya sauce etc, add ..et voila.


There's a lot of excellent cooks on this forum, and my recipes might suck a bit, but this works for us.

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Re: Recommendations for a basic Wok and an entry level book on stir fry

Post by Moethebartender » Sun Jun 17, 2018 9:35 pm

Ok. Lots to think about. Thanks to everyone who has weighed in so far. Sucks that my shitty stove is an impediment.
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Re: Recommendations for a basic Wok and an entry level book on stir fry

Post by guruwil » Sun Jun 17, 2018 10:10 pm

Moe you won’t get the results on an electric ring, you will end up disappointed every time but these are pretty cheap, get one from an asian grocer if they have them because they know what works and you are on the way.

447458D2-FA44-4C55-9054-23B3790CB64E.jpeg
Buy a steel wok one from an Asian grocer and Check instructions for seasoning it properly and do it. The biggest trick is to keep the heat up.
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Re: Recommendations for a basic Wok and an entry level book on stir fry

Post by DCComic » Mon Jun 18, 2018 7:05 am

Moethebartender wrote:
Sun Jun 17, 2018 9:35 pm
Ok. Lots to think about. Thanks to everyone who has weighed in so far. Sucks that my shitty stove is an impediment.
If you like to cook it’s worth spending a few hundred quid on a decent cooker. It could last a lifetime.
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Re: Recommendations for a basic Wok and an entry level book on stir fry

Post by NorthAmerican » Mon Jun 18, 2018 1:59 pm

Ledbetter wrote:
Sun Jun 17, 2018 4:10 pm
...with a tsp of brown sugar to caramelize quickly....
I use cane sugar when I want to caramelize something; it works well, and relatively quickly. Is there an advantage in using brown sugar rather than plain white cane sugar?
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Re: Recommendations for a basic Wok and an entry level book on stir fry

Post by Scrubb » Mon Jun 18, 2018 4:00 pm

I have an electric stove. Sure, I'd rather have a gas one, but you can manage a stir fry perfectly well. WHen you need to turn it down you might have to lift the wok off the burner for a couple minutes while it cools down but it's absolutely do-able. YOu can also heat up 2 burners at once, one hotter and one cooler, and switch between them.
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Re: Recommendations for a basic Wok and an entry level book on stir fry

Post by Bill Barilko » Mon Jun 18, 2018 4:37 pm

Scrubb wrote:
Mon Jun 18, 2018 4:00 pm
I have an electric stove. Sure, I'd rather have a gas one, but you can manage a stir fry perfectly well. WHen you need to turn it down you might have to lift the wok off the burner for a couple minutes while it cools down but it's absolutely do-able. YOu can also heat up 2 burners at once, one hotter and one cooler, and switch between them.
^ this

I have the same shitty stove as Moe-newer but still a POFS-and it works OK.
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Re: Recommendations for a basic Wok and an entry level book on stir fry

Post by rider5 » Tue Jun 19, 2018 3:17 am

When does a high sided frying pan end and a wok begin?

What's next? Wok cooking in a crock pot?

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Re: Recommendations for a basic Wok and an entry level book on stir fry

Post by Ledbetter » Tue Jun 19, 2018 6:14 pm

NorthAmerican wrote:
Mon Jun 18, 2018 1:59 pm
Ledbetter wrote:
Sun Jun 17, 2018 4:10 pm
...with a tsp of brown sugar to caramelize quickly....
I use cane sugar when I want to caramelize something; it works well, and relatively quickly. Is there an advantage in using brown sugar rather than plain white cane sugar?
None that I know of, it's what I have on hand.

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Re: Recommendations for a basic Wok and an entry level book on stir fry

Post by cuchulainn » Tue Jun 19, 2018 6:25 pm

Moe, here is a site with recipes and videos of Singaporean dishes (Malay and Chinese):

http://themeatmen.sg/

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Re: Recommendations for a basic Wok and an entry level book on stir fry

Post by Citizen Baba » Tue Jun 19, 2018 8:40 pm

Honestly, because of the shape of our stoves, there's no real reason to buy a wok. I have a $50-ish heavy frying pan, and it's just as good if not better for making stir-fries.

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Re: Recommendations for a basic Wok and an entry level book on stir fry

Post by DCComic » Tue Jun 19, 2018 9:00 pm

Citizen Baba wrote:
Tue Jun 19, 2018 8:40 pm
Honestly, because of the shape of our stoves, there's no real reason to buy a wok. I have a $50-ish heavy frying pan, and it's just as good if not better for making stir-fries.
Discounting the stove-shape issue, a wok is good for load of stuff that a frying pan isn't, and vice versa. You can keep stuff on the move in a wok, so you use a much higher heat.
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Re: Recommendations for a basic Wok and an entry level book on stir fry

Post by Citizen Baba » Tue Jun 19, 2018 9:14 pm

I make a lot of stuff, and have never needed a wok. (I think I have one somewhere in the basement.)

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Re: Recommendations for a basic Wok and an entry level book on stir fry

Post by Citizen Baba » Tue Jun 19, 2018 9:16 pm

Here's America's Test Kitchen's verdict:

We don’t like stovetop woks—at least not conventional rounded models. The traditional wok is designed to sit in an open cooking pit with flames licking the sides of the vessel. Of course, on a flat American stovetop, a round wok wobbles and has little direct contact with the heat source. For these reasons, we prefer a 12-inch nonstick skillet for stir-frying. When we decided to revisit the wok issue, this time with flat-bottom woks, we thought we’d wait to pass judgment. We needn’t have bothered. We can now safely say that we don’t like stovetop woks, period.

There are dozens of flat-bottom woks (also sold as stir-fry pans) on the market. To narrow the field, we set a few guidelines. First was size. We chose woks that had a diameter of at least 12 inches when measured across the top. Second was interior material. We like to use a nonstick pan in stir-fries, so we limited our field to nonstick woks only. We found eight popular brands of nonstick flat-bottom woks and brought them into the kitchen for a marathon stir-fry session, making batch after batch of beef and broccoli. The woks ranged in price from $16.99 to $139.99. Did price correlate to quality? Not at all.

The best performer held a roomy 6 1/2 quarts and measured 6 1/2 inches across the bottom (the widest bottom area we could find). The wok was balanced, sturdy, and easy to use, though it was a bit heavy for one petite tester. The best thing about this wok was that it got hot quickly and then stayed hot, taking a respectable three minutes to get the oil smoking initially and a quick 49 seconds to get it smoking for the second batch of beef. That heat is key to developing a brown crust on the beef, which this wok achieved to some degree, though not quite as nicely as our trusty 12-inch skillet. A 12-inch skillet has twice as much surface in direct contact with the heating source as even this wok. This larger area allows for the meat to be spread in an even layer, ensuring even browning.

Our second-place finisher had the same size bottom as the winner but was significantly smaller overall, with a 12-inch diameter at the top and a 5-quart capacity. Beef and broccoli browned somewhat, but the wok’s tipsy, unstable design made us nervous. What’s more, this thin wok didn’t hold heat well; it took almost twice as long to heat the oil hot for the second batch of beef.

We found one other wok to be sturdy and easy to work with, but its relatively small bottom (5 3/4 inches) made browning difficult; instead of lying in an even layer across the bottom, the pieces of meat stacked up in a pile, oozing juice and steaming rather than searing. Despite the heft of this wok, it didn’t hold heat at all; at 2 minutes, 15 seconds, it took the longest to heat up again after searing the first batch of beef.

Though we did finally decide to award our "recommended with reservation" title to one wok, we’d still reach first for a 12-inch nonstick skillet when stir-frying. If you were using a bamboo steamer, for which you need a wok, or cooking a large batch of fried rice, this wok might come in handy. But if you’re sticking to stir-fry, stick to your skillet. Its large, flat bottom is better suited for flat Western stovetops.[/b[

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Re: Recommendations for a basic Wok and an entry level book on stir fry

Post by desertstorm » Tue Jun 19, 2018 11:08 pm

I hate non stick teflon (or ceramic) pan with a passion, so the test result does not apply to me. I do follow the reasoning though. If you have flat cooking hob, your wok need bigs flat bottom (!) to contact the heating zone of the hob, you wok also needs to retain (high) heat well, which means you need a wok made with material that retains heat well > cast iron, or choose one made with more than usual thick carbon steel (drawback: heavy, although still lighter than cast iron) instead of a flimsy one. My objection about using a skillet for stir fry is of course...it's not a pan with high steep side, making 'stir fry' impossible. It may not be an objection to others, and I have to say I had gone through my cooking life without a wok until recent years. Or more accurate, I still don't own a wok, I just have a French cast iron thingy that looks and works like a wok.

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Re: Recommendations for a basic Wok and an entry level book on stir fry

Post by Citizen Baba » Wed Jun 20, 2018 1:40 am

I have a large cast iron pan. Stirring with a wooden spoon is not a problem. If you don't like nonstick (and I don't either), simply remove it from the above, and it holds.

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Re: Recommendations for a basic Wok and an entry level book on stir fry

Post by Moethebartender » Wed Jun 20, 2018 12:56 pm

cuchulainn wrote:
Tue Jun 19, 2018 6:25 pm
Moe, here is a site with recipes and videos of Singaporean dishes (Malay and Chinese):

http://themeatmen.sg/
Thanks, will have a look when I get home.
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Re: Recommendations for a basic Wok and an entry level book on stir fry

Post by section8 » Wed Jun 20, 2018 5:36 pm

I figured with this being the Stew, you'd all have $15k Viking ranges.
This is the only musical: the mouth. And hopefully the brain attached to the mouth. Right? The brain, more important than the mouth, is the brain. The brain is much more important.

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birdlite
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Re: Recommendations for a basic Wok and an entry level book on stir fry

Post by birdlite » Thu Jun 21, 2018 5:31 am


Steve_in_Exile
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Re: Recommendations for a basic Wok and an entry level book on stir fry

Post by Steve_in_Exile » Thu Jun 21, 2018 1:00 pm

I also have a space age Korean wok which I love. And here is a book I have on stir fry and cooking with a wok, autographed by my pal Martin Yan
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Nines
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Re: Recommendations for a basic Wok and an entry level book on stir fry

Post by Nines » Thu Jun 21, 2018 2:01 pm

Yan Can Cook!

I enjoyed his cooking show. Likeable fella.

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Re: Recommendations for a basic Wok and an entry level book on stir fry

Post by Moethebartender » Thu Jun 21, 2018 2:13 pm

Thanks again everyone! I honestly didn't expect this to be a contentious topic. This place is always amusing.
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Re: Recommendations for a basic Wok and an entry level book on stir fry

Post by Steve_in_Exile » Thu Jun 21, 2018 11:38 pm

Nines wrote:
Thu Jun 21, 2018 2:01 pm
Yan Can Cook!

I enjoyed his cooking show. Likeable fella.
About 20 years ago, Martin Yan called me at my trapping business and explained that he had a pond in his back yard and that some animal was coming at night and trying to catch his fish and throwing his water lily plants out of the pond, and asked me if we could do anything about it. So I told him it was raccoons and that we could try to trap them, and I headed out to his place and set up a couple of live cage traps and told him to call me in the morning if we caught anything. Sure enough my phone rings early and Martin is excited that we did have a raccoon in the trap, and I head out there to haul it away. Martin's mother, who doesn't speak a work of English, is visiting from China, and she's out there at the trap all excited, and Martin is joking around about how young the raccoon looked and how tender the meat would be and how he would cook it etc. Everything was going good with the job so far.

But then we set the traps up again to see if we catch more the next night, and my phone rings even earlier, and Martin tells me that there's a big problem and I have to come out right away. We caught another animal but not the same kind as the night before. As soon as I get out there and open my truck door, I can smell that what we caught was a skunk, which is what I suspected. I head back to the back yard, and there's Martin's mom all pissed off and washing clothes and hanging them on a line to dry. She was the first one up in the morning, and the poor woman had no idea what a skunk was, and she went right up to the trap to have a good look at it and got sprayed.

So that's how a wound up having an autographed copy of "Everybody's Wokking".

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Re: Recommendations for a basic Wok and an entry level book on stir fry

Post by Scrubb » Fri Jun 22, 2018 3:09 am

Good story, Steve!

I used to enjoy "Wok with Yan", especially how he measured the oil.
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Re: Recommendations for a basic Wok and an entry level book on stir fry

Post by GLimpet » Sun Jun 24, 2018 9:42 pm

Ken Hom was my go-to-guy back in the day (1980s) - very clear and easy to follow.

https://www.amazon.com/Ken-Homs-Top-Sti ... merReviews

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