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In China, stir-frying in a kitchen wok is the most widely used method of cooking, called, “Ch'au.” This method involves cooking a lot of thinly sliced ingredients in a small amount of oil over high heat in the convex shape of the wok. No matter which wok you choose -- from a gourmet wok to a grill wok and even a Japanese wok -- you'll need a separate set of Chinese cooking utensils just for tossing the food while stir-frying. Luckily, Asian cookware is usually sold in sets and in many different materials depending upon the material of your wok. If you choose a stainless steel, carbon steel or cast iron wok, you can use metal utensils. If you choose any type of aluminum interior or non-stick you'll need a wooden or plastic set to protect the finish on your wok. Here are the common types of utensils you need for stir-frying and how to use them:
• Chinese spatula: This is a wide-angled spatula perfect for tossing food around the side of the wok. It is designed to slide easily under a large amount of food and lift it up and over for easy, efficient stir-frying.
• Chinese wire strainer: This strainer helps lift foods out of the liquid in the wok. It also lifts deep-fried foods from hot oils and noodles from boiling water and into the wok for stir-frying. It has a flatter shape than a traditional ladle for easy scooping of large quantities of food. Look for ladles made of copper and stainless steel with a long wooden or bamboo handle, as well as plastic and slotted wooden ones.
• Set of extra long chopsticks: These are handy for removing just certain items from the hot wok, as well as for pushing things around during cooking. These also work great for tasting, too!
• Wok brush: Many sets will also include a wok brush perfectly shaped for whisking your wok clean.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|