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garlic/ginger and wok cooking

  • f

Got my wok from wok.com a few weeks ago and I absolutely love it.

I do note that lots of recipes call for heating up the wok, heating up the oil THEN sliding in the garlic/ginger for a quick 30 seconds then pulling it out. I'm curious as to the rationale behind that.
I can clearly recall one of the big-time TV chefs on Foodnetwork saying that it's best to put the garlic in the oil and heat them up together to release the flavor. Tossing garlic in hot oil basically sears the garlic and seals IN the flavor.

I'd like some thoughts on that... maybe in wok cooking it is different.

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  1. nothing seals in flavor. in anything. ever.

    tossing garlic in hot oil cooks the garlic and flavors the oil.

    1. Try processing the garlic, ginger, other aromatics and spices, stir frying the paste in oil, and then tossing in your next ingredients in the wok.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

        Did a Wolfgang Puck recipe last nite. He advocated putting the aromatics in first for 30 seconds, taking them out then putting them back in late in the "game" so to speak. All the others I've done had me leave it in.
        I have to admit I love cooking but never used a wok much before. This is a really neat way to cook. Very versatile.

        1. re: fjs08


          You can do what Wolfgang suggested. His method is to incorporate the aromatic (garlic and ginger) in the oil without burning the aromatic. The downside is: one more step.

          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

            Opps. Actually two more steps: one for taking out the aromatic ingredients like garlic and ginger and another one for adding them back in. Taking them out is not too difficult if you chopped them in large chunks, but very difficult if they are finely minced, so... Wolfgang's method only works in a limited fashion.

          2. re: fjs08

            Wok cooking is fast, and should be kept simple. I generally (albeit not always, depending) do the spices and aromatics, add the other stuff in stages, finish with touches like fish sauce, soy sauce, or sesame oil - and done.

        2. Frank,

          It is just different schools of thought of how to incorporate garlic and ginger favor. There are two distinctions of Chinese stir fry. First, almost always the ginger and garlic are minced or cut into very little pieces. Second, an important style of stir frying is done in high heat -- called Bao (read the "Bao" section):


          As such, if the minced ginger and garlic are tossed in the wok from the beginning and heated to high heat, then the you will surely burned them by the time of cooking.

          Another way out of this is this: heat the cookware (wok) alone, then you can pour the oil and toss the garlic and ginger together with the oil, but you probably should not heat the wok with the oil and the ginger and garlic all together from the beginning.

          In summary:


          1) Heat the wok with oil --> high temperature --> toss in garlic and ginger


          2) Heat the wok alone --> high temperature --> pour oil, and then toss in garlic and ginger a few second later..

          Do not:

          XXX) Heat the wok with oil and garlic and ginger --> high temperature

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              Sorry, www.wokshop.com
              Tane's store.
              She is very helpful. I've recommended her to a bunch of friends.

            2. Removing aromatics after quickly frying in a pre-heated, pre-oiled pan is one way of preventing over-cooking of the garlic and ginger.

              Once you get used to your wok -- the amount of time it takes to get it smoking hot, and the time it takes for the heat to recover after you've added a substantial amount of food to it -- you'll start working more and more quickly.

              Each dish is different, and calls for adding the garlic and ginger at different times. In some seafood dishes, the garlic and ginger are added at the last minute and just barely heated by the sauce. They aren't exposed to hot oil at all.

              You will know, from practice, what kind of flavor you like from a stir-fry. Have fun!

              1. Yup, you have basically your answers covered. High heat, i.e. wok cooking, quick cook of the garlic. The other recipes you've seen from Big Time TV Chefs on Foodnetwork (is there such a thing anymore? I can't even watch that channel anymore but I digress) probably call for a lower heat, and sometimes even a sweat at really low heat.

                I'm too lazy to do a put aromatics in and take them out. If it'll overcook then I'll add them in later. Keep in mind a lot of asian cooking involved garlic cooked way past what you see in Western shows when they tell you not to overcook your garlic as it'll turn bitter. Well sometimes the crisp slightly bitter garlic is a featured ingredient. Suon xao toi ot is basically fried breaded porkchops with almost burnt garlic and chilis.

                5 Replies
                1. re: deeznuts

                  >>Big Time TV Chefs on Foodnetwork (is there such a thing anymore? I can't even watch that channel anymore but I digress<<

                  I miss all the "cooking shows."
                  I'm not into the "reality" shows they have now.

                  1. re: fjs08

                    Why? You hate reality and like to live in a dream?

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      >>Why? You hate reality and like to live in a dream?<<
                      I get enough of reality during the day. When I watch TV, I like to be "entertained."
                      "Reality" shows don't do it for me.
                      For me cooking takes me out of the "reality" of the day. A way to have fun, enjoy my family and surroundings and get immediate gratification. Can't beat it!!

                      1. re: fjs08

                        The worst part of the reality shows are that they are not reality. Understanding how much fake stuff they are trying to pass to us as reality just turns me off. The reality is so fabricated I just laugh. About the only thing worth watching anymore on Food Network is Good Eats because, well Alton is funny. ICA is decent. Chopped, the cake shows, everything has just turned me off. I started learning cooking by watching Battali, Chiarello, Jaime Oliver, even Emeril, now I'm relegated to watching Saturday PBS shows (which are excellent though). I also watched Chef at Home with Michael Smith on Discovery Home but they got rid of that channel for a Green channel. Which is weird because Food Network Canada still carries his show as well as other good ones.

                        Also Kylie Kwong was good too. Gone. Sucks. Food Network has turned into MTV.

                        1. re: deeznuts

                          >>Battali, Chiarello, Jaime Oliver, even Emeril,<<

                          Those plus Wolfgang Puck. I learned a lot from his shows.
                          They used to have one on at 4am on Friday that I would watch while I was on my treadmill. Now I only see him on the Home Shopping channels hawking his wares.
                          AB is a hoot.