ACHICA Living chats to celebrity chef Ken Hom who dishes out his expert advice on wok cooking and shares some delicious recipes…
Who taught you to cook?
My uncle Paul who owned a restaurant in the US taught me when I was 11 years old. He inspired me to cook with a passion.
What do you love about wok cooking?
It’s so fast and easy, which makes it a popular cooking method. The fact that it is healthy is another bonus.
Which main feature should we be looking for when buying a wok?
It should be fairly hefty and not too lightweight.
How should we prepare our wok the first time we use it?
If it’s non stick just a simple rinse of hot water is needed. However, if it’s made from carbon steel, it would need to be seasoned before the first time you use it.
How do we do that?
The best way to season it is to scrub it clean with washing up liquid. Wipe it dry and then heat it over medium heat with two tablespoons of vegetable oil (not olive oil). With clean kitchen paper, rub the oil over the surface of the wok. Keep doing this every five minutes for about 20 minutes, until the kitchen paper comes out clean. You now have a seasoned wok.
So they say you’re not meant to wash your wok. How would you suggest we care for ours?
Never scrub a wok. A simple rinse with warm water will do the job. If something sticks to it, just soak it for a few minutes in hot water and wash it clean with a soft sponge. Some woks can go into the dishwater, but there’s really no need.
Should we invest in any useful accessories? A Chinese chopping cleaver and a spatula is all you need.
Do you have any top tips on getting the best from cooking a stir fry?
*To get the best flavour, make sure your wok is very hot. If the oil is smoking too much in the wok, turn the heat down. Sometimes, adding a touch of rice wine or water can rapidly cool the wok down.
*A good way to cool frying oil immediately is to plunge a cold stainless spatula into the oil. This heat transfer method will bring the temperature down by at least 20 degrees.
*Remember to make sure your wok is very hot and don’t add more oil! And never panic!
What will you be cooking tonight?
I love to cook simple stir fries with or without meat and will be whizzing up one of the below later on.
If you got your hands on one of Ken Hom’s woks in our exclusive promotion a fews weeks ago, you might like to try out these delicious delights for yourself.
225g (8oz) thin, dry rice noodles
11⁄2 tbsp sunflower oil
3 dried hot red chillies, cut in half
2 tbsp finely chopped garlic
2 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp finely chopped ginger
225g (8oz) courgettes, shredded
225g (8oz) sweet red peppers, seeded and shredded
2 tbsp shredded sun-dried tomatoes
1 handful basil leaves
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Soak the noodles in warm water for about 25 minutes, then drain in a colander or sieve.
2. Heat the wok until hot, then add the oil, dried chillies, garlic, garlic salt and ginger and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the vegetables and sun-dried tomatoes, and stir-fry for 2 minutes more.
3. Add the rice noodles and stir-fry for 5 minutes. Season with pepper, add the basil leaves and mix thoroughly. Serve at once or as a cold dish.
Sterling Doughty’s Stir-Fried Kiwi Chicken recipe
450g (1lb) boneless chicken breasts
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp cornflour blended with 5ml (1 tsp) water
1 tbsp sunflower oil
2 tbsp coarsely chopped garlic
1 tsp chilli bean sauce
2 kiwi fruits peeled and quartered
1 tsp sesame oil
1. Cut the chicken into 1⁄2 inch (1cm) cubes. Combine the chicken with the garlic salt and cornflour paste.
2. Prepare the other ingredients.
3. Heat the wok then add the oil and garlic. Stir-fry for 10 seconds and add the chicken. Stir-fry for 2 minutes, then add the chilli bean sauce and kiwi fruit. Stir and mix for 1 minute. Finally, add the sesame oil and give the mixture one good stir. Serve at once.
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Emily Peck, Editor
View all posts by Emily Peck, Editor