Tips & tricks to stay sane + win invites to our events! All Rights Reserved. To test this, I made two identical batches of lo mein, changing only the manner in which I finished them. But it is perhaps because most Chinese food in America has its earliest roots in Cantonese cuisine that American diners so strongly associate good Chinese food with that flavor. Could this concept of a seared sauce also be a factor in wok hei flavor? It’s also tied to the unique action of stir-frying in a wok. A big reason we decided on Wok Hey was that the smoky aroma and flavour of wok hei can elevate humble dishes like fried rice and noodles to very memorable dishes. Where does it come from? (Adding water to the test ensured that both batches would experience the same cool-down effect of liquid added directly to the center, while only one would develop seared soy sauce flavors.). 9 Things To Buy From Taobao ... Stir-fried Pork With Broccolini And Oyster Sauce, Hawker-Style Peanut Pancake (Min Chiang Kueh), Here's How To Make Perfect Soft-Boiled Eggs With An Air Fryer. Most folks in China don’t have restaurant-style equipment at home, and even the concept of wok hei is not widely known outside of the Cantonese regions of Southeastern China. It’s this flavor — the same flavor that develops as a hamburger drips fat onto red hot coals below it — that I most strongly associate with wok hei. Wok hei is traditionally achieved with intense heat at the hawkers using their seasoned woks. I’ve since found that adding a small splash of oil to the perimeter of the wok before adding the soy sauce will prevent the soy sauce from ending up caked onto the side of the wok. She has a point. In my own testing, I’ve managed to narrow it down to a few key elements. The fried rice was nice but it was not quite paradise. The udon had more wok hei than the rice. A carbon steel wok is thin and should get quite hot and it responds to changes in heat very quickly. Add in a little more oil, and heat up your cooker until it smokes again. One of the secrets to achieving wok hei in a home kitchen is a blowtorch.Credit...David Malosh for The New York Times. To simplify things, I’ve found that transferring the stir-fried food to a rimmed baking sheet, spreading it in a single layer, and giving it a few leisurely passes with the torch before returning it to the wok for final saucing and garnishing is a simple and effective workaround. There was some initial disappointment when we opened the boxes. Here, she demonstrates how to cook Ipoh Hor Fun, and how to get wok hei using an induction stove. (Chef Nicole made hers using beef stock, cornstarch and oyster sauce. That singed oil then leaves small, sooty deposits on the food as it gets tossed through the smoke. Wok Hey is a chain of food outlets that has quite a few locations all over Singapore. Wok hei is the Cantonese name for that aroma (literally “wok energy” or “wok breath”). A wok allows you to constantly toss food through its own vapors, speeding up its cooking, which concentrates flavor and promotes the development of new flavor compounds through the Maillard reaction better than a flat skillet can. No 196900476M. As Lan Lam has written in a more recent article from Cook’s Illustrated, this has to do with the chemical interactions between the food and the layers of polymerized oils on the surface of a seasoned wok. Adding soy sauce to the center of the wok left the noodles with a raw soy sauce flavor, while drizzling it around the hot edges of the wok created smoky flavors reminiscent of grilled meat. The carbon steel wok unanimously won those taste tests, producing flavors that tasters described as “grilled” or “caramelized.”. Wok Hey is a chain of food outlets that has quite a few locations all over Singapore. Thank you for sharing. But as I watched Sichuan chef Wang Gang splash soy sauce around the perimeter of a wok full of home-style egg fried rice on his YouTube channel, I noticed something: how rapidly it sizzles and sputters. Hi Ayako, thanks for reading our blog and your kind comments! What’s so different about cooking in a restaurant? “Wok hei is this ethereal thing,” Steph said. Add oil into your induction cooker, heat up and leave it until it smokes. Planning The Perfect Picnic? “It has that nice smoky flavor.” My family moved to New York in the early ’80s, when I was 4 years old, and those stir-fries from Sun Lok Kee, with their savory char and smoky aroma, are among my first and fondest taste memories. The problem is that Cantonese restaurant wok ranges, which can output 200,000 B.T.U.s per hour or more, are an order of magnitude more powerful than even the most powerful home burner. Discussion. Basically, there are different styles of fried rice, ramen and udon with optional add-on protein and other toppings – grilled chicken, braised beef or seasoned prawns etc. Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by email. Food Stylist: Simon Andrews. When I was a test cook at Cook’s Illustrated, I conducted a number of blind taste tests, stir-frying noodles, beef and vegetables in Western-style skillets (the magazine’s recommended method at the time) side by side with a nonstick wok, and my own well-seasoned carbon steel wok. This lo mein gets its smoky appeal from wok hei. Any comment on the food or service or the overall quality of our experience is just an expression of our opinion and is strictly based on what we experienced on our visit to an eatery on a particular day. When I asked my friends Steph Li and Chris Thomas, the couple in Shenzhen, China, behind the popular YouTube channel Chinese Cooking Demystified, their response jumped between descriptive and evocative. For a better description of what is wok hei, the Singapore Michelin Guide has provided a definition of the ‘breath of a wok’. 11 Easy Fried Rice Recipes For Delicious Everyday Meals. Just to finish the dish, you can follow with adding some homemade hor fun sauce into the wok. Followers 3. achieving smoky "wok hei" flavor at home. So when the Foodpanda website showed up a Clementi Mall Wok Hey delivery option with a 4.7/5 star rating, we thought it was time to give it a try. Post was not sent - check your email addresses! ), 7 Kitchen Appliances, Trends And Ideas For The Modern Home, 20 Space-Saving Bar Countertop Ideas For Tiny Kitchens, 9 Asian Ingredients Like Lotus Root And Tofu You Can Freeze And Keep. Close. We are simply writing as everyday folks about our own experience. My dad has always been a wok hei fiend, first scouring the streets of Chinatown and later the suburbs of Boston for smoky clams in black bean sauce, fire-kissed stir-fried greens, beef chow fun that almost tastes grilled, or noodles that are singed just right. We have seen their kiosks before in different places but had yet to try them. As a professional cook and recipe developer, I’ve spent a good 15 years attempting to identify the elements that go into creating wok hei, so that I might capture that flavor in a basic home kitchen. The portions of both items were not large as you can tell from the boxes, but not as small as we initially thought. David Malosh for The New York Times. We found chunks of chicken buried inside the rice and udon. Wok Hei at Home: How to Stir-Fry Without a Wok … It’s “that taste of the first bite of a hot restaurant stir-fry. Given that it’s the shape of a wok that allows for tossing through steam and searing sauces, is there any hope for capturing wok hei in a Western skillet? Wok hei is the Cantonese name for that aroma (literally “wok energy” or “wok breath”).

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