Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Dec 31, 2010 07:50 PM

January 2011 Cookbook of the Month: BREATH of a WOK & STIR-FRYING TO THE SKY'S EDGE

Welcome to the general discussion thread for the January 2011 Cookbooks of the Month: BREATH of a WOK, Grace Young and Alan Richardson and STIR-FRYING TO THE SKY'S EDGE, Grace Young.

Each book will have its own thread. Please use this master thread to discuss woks, wok seasonings, ingredients, and general thoughts about these two books.

If you're new to Cookbook of the Month, the COTM archive thread explains how it all works:

To post a full-length review of any recipe, please select the appropriate thread below.

BREATH of the WOK:


To review discussions from earlier threads, you can take a look at the nominations:, the voting:, and the general pre-month discussion:

Finally, the Chowhound Team has asked me to remind you that verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is a violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.

Happy cooking!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
    1. re: Gio Gio's seasonal avatars.

      1. re: steve h.

        Gio's a class act . . . an inspiration for us all.

    2. Awwwww shucks. Pulling forelock... shuffling in place.

      1. The seasoning of the wok BotW, page 48

        I went through both books and found the sheer variety of seasoning options a bit overwhelming. In the end, Wen Geng Lin's Chinese Chive Rub won since I had all the required ingredients. You wash the wok with soap and water. Rinse. And then just to be careful, I washed it again.

        Then you rub with Chinese chives, lots of them. Good thing she mentioned the weight because I would never had rubbed with just so many chives. Then you bring a quart of water to a boil, and my doubts began. As the bubbles began to form, my wok got varicose veins. Distinct black lines going up the side of the wok in a pattern that looks like, well, bubbles.

        I pressed on even though I wasn't convinced by what I was seeing. The chives rested in the wok for 30 minutes and then you rub the wok down. She warns that there the towels will be blackened, but mine weren't, but I did have lots of chive stuff stuck to the inside of the wok. Then you rub the wok with lard, let rest and then warm the wok on low until the lard has liquified. Again, she says that there will be smoke, but I really didn't have much. Cool and clean. And once again, boil a quart of water in the wok. No additional varicose veins, though the pattern was still there and very noticeable.

        Tonight I cooked with the wok for the first time. Maybe this all worked. Nothing stuck to the wok, or even threatened to. Love having one handle with the helper instead of the two loops; so much easier to manage. I did the Dunlop swirl and dump method to prepare the pan correctly, and maybe that helped as well.

        As far as the seasoning goes, the next few months will tell if the varicose veins are a good thing or not.

        1 Reply
        1. re: smtucker

          Last night, I decided that for the good of the wok [tongue in cheek] that I would do some deep frying. My wok held 3 cups of oil easily, and I prepared "Crispy Spring Rolls" from the Yan CHINA book, served with dry-fried green beans.

          Controlling the heat was completely different than when we use a dutch oven. The wok didn't drop in temperature at all, and in fact, the temperature of the oil kept getting hotter. I had to take the wok off the heat twice to stay within a safe range. I used a thermometer that hooked awkwardly to the side of the wok.

          We poured out the oil, and then I rubbed the little bit of remaining oil from the bottom around the inside top of the wok. Quick rinse and heat to dry. This morning, the touch of the inside of the wok is much smoother, and just a little oily. The varicose veins are almost gone now.

        2. So I am still trying to learn how to use my wok and these two cookbooks. My wok burner gets pretty hot with 18,000 BTU. Her high heat for the spinach dish was too hot, while the same high wasn't hot enough for the beef.

          Appreciate any thoughts beyond hers in the book.

          2 Replies
          1. re: smtucker

            You've just got to play with it - turn the flame down a bit for the spinach or greens next time. For the beef, try splitting the stir-fry batches into two portions and stir-fry it that way.

            1. re: smtucker

              smtucker: Apologies that I'm soooo late responding to your post about the BTUs. 18,000 is VERY high. The recipes for the book were cooked on a burner that had 14,000 BTUs so I would say you need to go to reduce the heat or the cooking time.

            2. OK, I started seasoning my wok this weekend, but just today saw the caution about using acidic ingredients when the seasoning is new and -- of course -- had already bought everything and was excited to make the Macanese Stir-Fried Chicken with the cup of tomatoes.

              Please help me choose among my meager 12" skillet options (none of which is stainless steel as GY recommends -- I killed that one a while back). My stove is a classic old 50s gas one, which I love, but no idea on BTUs.

              1. Calphalon -- heavy, but doesn't heat very fast or as high as some others. I am prone to blasting the heat on this one.

              2. Heavyish nonstick pan (one of those Green Pans from Crate and Barrel) -- generally much heavier than the average nonstick, but still it's nonstick.

              3. LC Dutch oven -- I know I saw this mentioned as a possibility, although the dynamics of the high sides seem so different

              I appreciate any thoughts from my wiser and better equipped COTMers.

              2 Replies
              1. re: mebby

                I've made it and I don't think it matters what you use - there is so much sauce you're not really looking for wok hay. I'd go with a dutch oven. Hope you like the recipe better than I did.

                1. re: sarahcooks

                  I agree. In an effort to maintain higher heat, don't overload the pan or dutch oven and consider making the one dish in at least two batches. You could even use two pans/dutch ovens at the same time. Get one dish or portion started and minutes later begin the other...