Asian cooking Equipment
All you need to cook like a pro are a few basic cooking utensils. Most Asian dishes can be prepared as they have been for thousands of years using just a wok, a steamer, a Chinese chef's knife and a cutting board.
Start with a Wok or Two
Think of it as a multi-purpose pan. Sunkist® recommends 14" woks made of spun carbon steel because this material conducts heat evenly and retains high heat necessary for Asian cooking. If you're concerned about calories, look for stainless steel or anodized aluminum with a non-stick surface. These won't have to be seasoned like carbon steel does.
- The classic and most efficient shape is round-bottomed with a perforated, ring-shaped metal stand that sits over a gas burner.
- Flat-bottomed woks were developed for electric stoves.
- Electric woks give you excellent, constant heat control, although they are a bit pricier. Look for one with at least 1500 watts of power.
- Whatever material you choose, be sure to get a lid.
Seasoning a Carbon Steel Wok
- Scour the wok with hot, soapy water.
- Dry it thoroughly.
- Rub it evenly with a coating of vegetable oil.
- Heat until the inner surface turns brown to get the first layer of a seasoned surface that will prevent food from sticking.
- After each use, wash with hot water using little or no soap, dry well and lightly coat with fresh oil.
Steaming is one of the most popular techniques in Asian home cooking. Traditional bamboo steamers are preferred because the woven tops let excess steam escape, preventing foods from getting soggy. They're also stackable. You can find them in most kitchen equipment stores and import shops. A 12" steamer fits perfectly in a 14" wok.
The Chinese Chef's Knife
Invest in the best quality chef's knife you can afford and keep it sharp. Reserve your heavy-duty butcher's cleaver for hacking through bones.
- Sunkist recommends a traditional #3 Chinese chef's knife for all slicing, dicing and cutting jobs.
- High carbon steel, which won't react with acidic foods, is the ideal choice.
- The basic design is a broad rectangular blade and slightly curved edge.
The Cutting Board
Hardwood such as maple is the best choice, but white plastic is also fine. Avoid glass, acrylic or anything with a hard, shining surface that will dull your knife's edge.
Many woks come with a set of cooking utensils. If yours doesn't these useful kitchen tools can be purchased separately.
- A curved spatula for stirring and scraping up the contents of the wok
- A wire skimmer for retrieving and draining fried or boiled foods
- A pair of bamboo cooking chopsticks (longer and thicker than those you eat with) for manipulating food in the wok and stirring and blending liquid ingredients
- A heavy butcher's cleaver for hacking through bones
- A mortar and pestle or electric spice grinder
- An electric rice cooker with a "keep warm" setting produces perfect results every time