I bought a wok while I was visiting San Francisco and I think it's fantastic. Nektu, I was wondering if you had any wok tips or recipe suggestions for someone who enjoys meals which can preferably be eaten with chopsticks?
Also, if I may add a recipe for an exceedingly simple albeit quite satisfying snack which I successfully made in my wok last night:
Wok Kettle-Style Popcorn
Vegetable Oil - 3 Tbsp.
Popcorn Kernels - 1/3 cup
Sugar - 1/3 cup (omit/reduce for normal/less sweet popcorn)
Heat wok over medium heat. Add oil and three kernels to wok once it starts to heat up. As you wait for the kernels to pop, figure out how to cover the wok. If you have a lid, use that at a slight angle to allow some steam to escape. If you lack a lid, cover your wok with aluminum foil with some holes poked in it.
After the three kernels have popped, add the rest of the kernels and the sugar and stir the mixture to avoid having a single large lump of sugar. Replace the lid or whatever other form of cover you have fashioned.
Start shaking the wok, rather vigorously (Don't Stop while the wok remains on the heat). For about a minute, probably nothing will happen. Then the kernels will start to pop. Depending on your setup, some of the oil and unpopped kernels may shoot out of your wok. It is advisable to plan for this and find some way of distancing one's bare skin from the hot oil. Suggestions include oversized oven mitts or tongs. I have some serious gauntlet-like oven mitts that cover my forearms which I use while shaking the wok.
The popping should start to calm after a minute or two at which point the wok should be taken off the heat. I tend to empty it immediately although I don't know if it would be okay to leave the popcorn in it for a few minutes.
Some additional tips that I can offer from personal experience:
The first time you try this, it may behoove you to omit the sugar because the addition of the sugar means that your concoction will burn a little bit more easily than it would have without it. I personally tried it once with the sugar and burned the hell out of it. I went back to the drawing board and tried it with just popcorn which turned out great. Then I tried again with sugar armed with the experience from my two previous attempts and made perfect kettle corn.
Much of this recipe has been adopted from Alton Brown's segment on Perfect Popcorn (recipe) (video - I couldn't find how to link to this video directly, so you may have to look for it once you follow the link). I would highly recommend watching his video as much of the theory and technique can be adapted for cooking popcorn in a wok.
(I used a wok because I don't have a metal mixing bowl... and because woks are awesome)
The reason for shaking the wok is to distribute the heat and to not burn the wok's contents. I don't know if it is possible to over-shake the wok... So you may want to err on the side of shaking more than less because the only conceivable problem with shaking more is that it takes a few more seconds to start popping the kernels. Under-shaking may be the source of burned popcorn.
This recipe is really a lot easier than this essay would suggest, but I tried to keep things thorough in case there is anyone else out there like me who might appreciate a little more hand-holding even on simpler recipes!
(and if any more experienced chef wants any corrections to be made, just message me and I'll edit to make appropriate corrections)
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