Stir-frying is the most popular technique used in Chinese cooking. A dry-heat cooking method, stir-frying works best with relatively small, evenly sized pieces of food that are then cooked quickly in a wok or stir-fry pan over medium-high or high heat. As its name suggests, constant stirring is required for best results. The continuous movement repeatedly exposes the food to the pan’s heat on all sides, resulting in quick and thorough cooking.
Flat-bottom woks and stir-fry pans both have wide surface areas that allow for rapid movement and even distribution of food while stir-frying. The flat bottom design works well with gas, electric and ceramic stovetops; stainless steel pans work well on induction stovetops too.
Calphalon woks are made from highly conductive metal so that heat spreads quickly and evenly up the sides for best cooking results. Calphalon pans are made from hard-anodized aluminum or stainless steel with one or two layers of internal aluminum, and conduct heat much faster than cast iron or rolled steel.
Covered woks give you even more cooking versatility, and are great for simmering and steaming foods too.
Tips for Successful Stir-Frying
• Have all your ingredients ready, cut, sliced, chopped and marinated before you begin.
• Cut and prepare individual vegetables according to their required cooking times. For example, a ½-in. piece of carrot required longer cooking than a ½-in. piece of scallion. Not adjusting for this difference will result in either an undercooked carrot or an overcooked scallion. Adjust the size of the food accordingly and add the food to the wok in sequence, adding foods that require the longest cooking time first.
• Cut like ingredients in a uniform size to ensure quick and even cooking.
• Preheat the wok before adding oil. Add oil to the sides of the pan, allowing it to run down the sides and evenly distribute.
• Don’t overcrowd the wok; too much food limits motion in the pan and can cause food to steam.
• To avoid overcooking meats, consider transferring meats and proteins to a plate after cooking, and return them to the wok to heat through before serving.