by Maddy Sweitzer-Lamme
You probably bought your wok thinking you’d use it for stir-fries, and that’s about it. With their even heat distribution and responsiveness to temperature change, woks are ideal for the fast and hot cooking that goes along with stir-frying. But if you think that’s all they’re good for, you’re missing out on tons of uses for what is about to be your new favorite pan.
Woks are great for deep frying for two reasons: their cone shape allows you to fry more with less oil, without crowding your pan, and the high sides protect your entire kitchen from getting splattered with grease - which we all know is the most annoying part of frying at home. Don’t be afraid of frying chicken, potatoes, or anything your heart desires with a wok. Feel free to check out this recipe of Baja Fish Tacos from Chef Jaron Dubinsky. Frying the fish in the wok would be a great idea.
Steamer baskets (you know those cute round wooden baskets that your soup dumplings come inside of?) are literally designed to be used with a wok. Simply bring a few inches of water to a boil in your wok, then set a steamer basket over the boiling water (make sure the water isn’t high enough to actually touch the bottom of the basket) and let that hot steam do its work. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how quickly this technique can cook vegetables like potatoes, carrots, broccoli, and more. Steamed vegetables would pair perfectly with Sam Hellman-Mass’s roast chicken.
Some vegetables just need a little help to get fully cooked. Whether you want a green bean to soften sightly but maintain its verdant crunch, or if you’re trying to take the edge off a bunch of collard greens. The cone-shape allows the vegetables plenty of room to move around, while the carbon steel helps the water come to a boil super quickly. Only feel like using one pan? Blanch green beans in the wok, and then develop some char and more flavor by stir-frying them in the wok! Check out Stephanie Izard’s recipe right here!
For a good braise, you need two things: a good sear, then a low, even heat that gently permeates whatever you’re braising. Luckily, a carbon steel wok does both of these things. Simply use the wok’s flat bottom to get some good caramelization, then add your liquid and simmer on the stove or put it in the oven, since Made In’s wok is totally oven-safe.
Ok, for this one, you’re going to need a lid that covers the top of your wok (pro tip: the lid for Made In’s 12-inch stainless steel skillet works well. As does the Universal Frying Pan Lid!). Popping popcorn in a wok is excellent because the cone shape keeps the kernels from staying on the hot bottom of the pan and burning and helps the steam release, which yields extra crunchy popcorn. Heat about 1/4 cup of canola or coconut oil over high heat with two kernels. Once both kernels have popped, add 1/4 cup of kernels, cover, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Let the popcorn pop, shaking the pan occasionally until the popping slows to about one pop every three seconds. Remove from heat and enjoy. If you’re feeling adventurous, cook bacon in advance, and then use the leftover bacon fat for cooking your popcorn. Erik Duffy of Tender Belly has a great recipe right here!