People in China and South East Asia are stir-frying a lot and use for this a bowl-shaped thin steel pan, also called wok, that is operated on high fire.

The art

The wok should get enough energy provided. Since the pan itself cannot retain much heat because it is so thin, the fire needs to be high. Therefore and because the wok is round we operate it on an open flame.  Frankly, stir-frying the way the Asians do, cannot be achieved on any electrical cook plate even not induction. Sometimes the stir-frying combines powerful sauteing and steaming. Usually we heat a wok dry over the fire for a few minutes (called conditioning). Once hot, we add vegetable oil to the hot wok. In order to keep cooking times short, oil is hot, fire is high and ingredients are usually cut in small pieces. In some cases we first blanch vegetables for one or more minutes in boiling hot water.  Thereafter we drain and quickly cool to stop the cooking process before adding to the wok.

The tradition to eat with chopsticks which handle bite-sized pieces of meat or vegetables fits the wok very well. We use very short actual stir-fry times and most of the time we spend on preparation. In most Chinese households, one wok is used to make multiple dishes, that are served out to the table within minutes of each other. In Asia the wok is also used for deep-frying.  Often even vegetables are briefly deep-fried before finished with a stir-frying / steaming process in the wok.

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