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The Wok Recipes and Techniques

The Wok Recipes and Techniques Summary

The Wok Recipes and Techniques from J. Kenji López-Alt, the author of the best-selling cookbook The Food Lab: the definitive guide to the science and technique of cooking in a wok.

J. Kenji López-Alt’s debut cookbook, The Food Lab, revolutionized home cooking, selling more than half a million copies with its science-based approach to everyday foods. And for fast, fresh cooking for his family, there’s one pan López-Alt reaches for more than any other: the wok.

Whether stir-frying, deep frying, steaming, simmering, or braising, the wok is the most versatile pan in the kitchen. Once you master the basics―the mechanics of a stir-fry, and how to get smoky wok hei at home―you’re ready to cook home-style and restaurant-style dishes from across Asia and the United States, including Kung Pao Chicken, Pad Thai, and San Francisco–Style Garlic Noodles. López-Alt also breaks down the science behind beloved Beef Chow Fun, fried rice, dumplings, tempura vegetables or seafood, and dashi-simmered dishes.

Featuring more than 200 recipes―including simple no-cook sides―explanations of knife skills and how to stock a pantry, and more than 1,000 color photographs, The Wok provides endless ideas for brightening up dinner.Full color photographs throughout

About the Author

J. Kenji López-Alt is a chef, parent, and New York Times best-selling author of The Food Lab and Every Night Is Pizza Night. He is a wildly popular New York Times food columnist; the chief culinary advisor for Serious Eats; and the host of Kenji’s Cooking Show, which has more than a million subscribers on YouTube. He lives in Seattle, Washington.

The Wok Recipes and Techniques Introduction

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Meet the Most Versatile Pan in Your Kitchen

Since writing my first book, The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science, a lot of things have changed. I spent several years living in San Mateo, California, before moving to Seattle. I now have a normal-sized American kitchen though I dearly miss my small, extraordinarily functional New York galley-style kitchen (I actually have to walk between my counter and my stovetop, much to my chagrin). I’m something called a “YouTube Creator” and an “influencer.” I’ve got kids!*

All of these factors mean that fast, fresh cooking is the order of the day, and that’s why I reach for my wok more than any other pan in my kitchen.

Do you know the principle of Chekhov’s gun? It’s a basic rule in good storytelling coined by Russian playwright Anton Chekhov that states that if a loaded gun is introduced to the story, it had better go off before you reach the end.

Dear readers, I apologize, for I broke this rule in The Food Lab. My Chekhov’s gun? The wok. Despite spending two pages expounding on its usefulness, despite declaring that it is the most commonly used pan in my home kitchen, I failed to provide a single recipe for it.† Here I intend to fix that. By the end of this book, not only will you be firing out delicious recipes from your wok left and right; you’ll have learned the skills required to throw together a meal using virtually any meat, vegetable, or plant-based protein source you find in your fridge, whether you have a lazy afternoon to cook or a harried half hour while simultaneously handling a toddler.

As far as putting dinner on the table quickly and easily, nothing beats stir-frying in a wok. It’s the quintessential weeknight supper. Because the actual cooking is so fast, it’s also an ideal summer meal—no heating up the house with a hot oven or a long-simmering pot. It’s also a fantastic way to showcase good ingredients. Vegetables retain their bright color and crunch, proteins come out tender and flavor-packed.

And there’s no reason to stick with just Asian ingredients! Asparagus, corn, zucchini, string beans, peas, fava beans, almost any firm vegetable you can think of makes for wonderful stir-fries. The Asian American restaurant staples of beef, pork, chicken, and shrimp are also only the tip of the iceberg. Firm fish and shellfish are prime stir-fry candidates, as are tofu, seitan, and other vegetarian protein sources.

But it doesn’t end there! The wok is also the ideal vessel for deep frying at home (good-bye, stovetop splatter); you can use it to steam vegetables, dumplings, and, well, anything steamable; it doubles as an indoor quick-smoker (home-smoked cheese! Home-smoked duck! Home-smoked whiskey!); and it’s great for stovetop-braising meats and vegetables.

When it comes to producing quick, flavorful, and versatile meals, the wok beats every other pan in the kitchen, hands down.

Wok History

There are plenty of other books that talk about the history of the wok. I’m a cook with a penchant for science, not a historian, so I see no reason to go into great detail here when other people already do it so much better.

Long story short: The origins of the wok are unclear, but in all likelihood it was introduced to China from a neighboring country sometime during the Han Dynasty (right around the BC to AD changeover) as a clay vessel, designed for drying grains. By the Ming Dynasty, around seven hundred years ago, metal woks used for stir-frying were popularized and have gone on to become the most common cooking method throughout the country.

My own introduction to the wok was during the MacGyver dynasty (right around the eighties-to-nineties changeover) as an infomercial, designed for selling kitchen gadgets. By the MacGyver reboot dynasty, it had gone on to become the most common cooking method throughout my kitchen.

“It’s The Great Wok of China!” exclaims Arnold Morris in the middle of his half-hour infomercial. The late 1980s were prime infomercial time, and, along with Mr. Wizard’s World and He-Man, they were a staple of my childhood viewing.

I loved all those kitchen gadgets, but even then I could see through most of them as a gimmick. Ron Popeil’s Chop-o-Matic (“The greatest kitchen appliance ever made!”‡), Veg-o-Matic (“Slice tomatoes so thin they only have one side!”§), and Showtime Rotisserie (“Set it and . .  .” you can finish the rest, I’m sure) captured my attention, but not my curiosity. But that hand-hammered wok!

I was familiar with woks growing up. My mother, who moved to the United States from Japan in her late teens, had a small carbon-steel number that she used for deep frying gyoza and Japanese-style croquettes or for making fried rice and Chungking Pork (check out here for my updated version of her recipe). But it was through one of those infomercials that I really started getting curious about the wok.

My current wok is the same one that I’ve used since buying it in the early 2000s. The quality of my relationship with it is only barely bested by that with my wife, my daughter, and some members of my extended family.

If you are ready to start down the path of your own lifelong commitment to an inanimate object, then read on.

Why Technique over Recipes?

Don’t get me wrong—there are plenty of recipes in this book, and if you’re the type who just wants to follow instructions and leave the planning to someone else, that’s totally fine. I promise, the recipes will work for you. But if, on the other hand, you have that desire to be in charge of your own destiny, to cook that meal that’s custom-suited for future you, then I hope you’ll find the lengthy in-between-the-recipes sections of this book even more interesting.

I like to think of cooking as a map. Following a recipe is like getting turn-by-turn instructions, your face buried in your smartphone. Sure, with good recipes, you can get from point A (raw ingredients) to point B (delicious meals), and sometimes that’s all you want. But learning the science and technique behind those recipes! That’s like being given an atlas. It’s full access to all of Google maps, from the biggest bird’s-eye view to the details on each street.

With that map at your disposal, you may find a better, more efficient way to get from A to B, custom-suited to your cooking style or kitchen. You may, in fact, find that you’d rather go to B-prime, or maybe even points X, Y, or Z. Sometimes you might plan on going from A to B but find you’re up against a roadblock. You’re missing one of the ingredients in the list, or perhaps a piece of equipment. No problem. Armed with that map, with those techniques and science, you’ll be able to find an alternate route with ease.

If you’re just starting out, I’m not gonna kid you, it’s gonna take some learning and some commitment. But it’s the fun kind of learning, and as long as you have a commitment to mapo tofu or tempura, you’re going to do just fine.

Buying a Wok

Woks come in as many shapes, sizes, and materials as Western-style sauté pans and saucepots, but here is my quick and dirty recommendation for anyone who cooks on a standard Western-style range: get yourself a 14-inch, flat-bottomed, carbon steel wok made with material around 2 mm (14 gauge) thick, with a single long handle and a helper-handle on the opposite side.

If you happen to live in a city with a sizable Chinese population, your best bet is to hit up a Chinese restaurant supply store. You’ll find a variety of woks at really great prices. The Wok Shop in San Francisco’s Chinatown has been selling high quality woks for over fifty years. You can browse and order them from

Want a little more detail? OK, here we go.

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Product details:

EditionInternational Edition
ISBN0393541215, 978-0393541212
Posted onMarch 8, 2022
Page Count672 pages
AuthorJ. Kenji López-Alt

The Wok Recipes and Techniques PDF Free Download - HUB PDF

The Wok Recipes and Techniques from J. Kenji López-Alt, the author of the best-selling cookbook The Food Lab: the definitive guide to the science and technique of cooking in a wok.


Author: J. Kenji López-Alt

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