Take a wok with me. (The puns may get worse, so get ready.) Picture yourself in a Shanghai alley, away from the hustle and bustle of the tourists where you can reach out and touch a finger to the hand mortared brick walls on either side of you. You turned down this alley, because you saw some people walk out with this amazing looking noodle dish on a paper plate. What was that? As you walk further along the shadowed alley, you are hit with the scent of onion, sesame and… what is that? Smoke? That last smell is not only smell, it is also taste. This is the breath of the wok, or Wok Hei. This is what is pulling you toward this Chinese grandmother tossing ingredients in a wok over a fire. This is traditional food, cooked outside on an open fire. This is wok cooking.
A Wok in history
The wok has been used by Chinese cooks for millennia. The wok is thought to have been introduced during the Han dynasty (206 B.C.) of China, where it was first used to dry grains. It was during the Ming dynasty (1368 A.D.) of China that the wok became popularly used for stir frying.
Since then, woks are used in a range of different Chinese cooking techniques, including stir frying, steaming, pan frying, deep frying, poaching, boiling, braising, searing, stewing, making soup, smoking and roasting nuts. Wok cooking is done with long-handled utensils called chahn (spatula) or hoak (ladle).
The wok’s most distinguishing feature is its shape. Classic woks have a rounded bottom. Hand-hammered woks are sometimes flipped inside out after being shaped, giving the wok a gentle flare to the edge that makes it easier to push food up onto the sides of the wok. Woks sold in Western countries are sometimes found with flat bottoms—this makes them most similar to a deep frying pan. The flat bottom allows the wok to be used on an electric stove, where a rounded wok would not be able to make contact with the stove’s heating element. A round bottom wok enables the traditional round spatula or ladle to pick all the food up at the bottom of the wok and toss it around easily; this is difficult with a flat bottom. With a gas hob, or traditional pit stove, the bottom of a round wok can get hotter than a flat wok and so is better for stir frying.
In the year 2000 Sub-Zero acquired the residential side of Wolf, a legend in commercial kitchens. Two specialists became corporate companions and kitchen soul-mates. Home chefs begin to experience unmatched performance with Wolf ranges, ovens, cooktops, and ventilation, and Wolf cooking appliances raced to the top of homeowners wish lists.
New and Coveted
In both a 36” sealed burner rangetop with two burners and the wok burner and a 48” sealed burner rangetop with 2 burners on the left and right with the wok burner in the middle, the new SRT362W and SRT484W simply take your breath away.
First, let’s talk about what a range top is. You have probably heard of a cooktop, which is simply, for the lack of a better explanation, the top of your range that you have at home with no apron on the front and your cooking controls will be on top facing the ceiling. This will be traditionally installed in the middle of your kitchen counter. With a range top, it is like the top of your range with the apron on the front of your counter with the knobs and cooking controls facing you. While also set in your kitchen counter, this will be set more toward you and the face of the counter.
When cooking with the Wolf wok rangetop you will experience authentic wok cooking. Not so much like the grandma in the alley from earlier does, but your results will be just as delicious. This specialized burner harnesses Wolf’s legendary performance and applies it to the dynamic wok cooking tradition.
One detail about the wok burner that stands out to me is the plumed flame under the wok and the ability to control this from low lows to high highs. This plumed flame situates itself under the middle of the wok and creates a tulip effect of heat up the sides of the wok, so you can use these differences in temperature to move portions of your stir fry that are done to. The wok pan ring will also allow you to cradle your wok so it is set evenly, or you can move the wok so that it is higher in the back and lower in the front for other wok cooking techniques.
With precise dual-stacked sealed burners maximum heat is delivered by the upper tier burner for more rapid boils and hotter sears. The low flame on the lower tier burner eliminates the need for a double boiler completely, and even keeps delicate sauces warm without fear of scorching or separating. With the spark ignition system for each burner you ensure safer cooking as each burner has a sensor to detect if a flame has gone out. If so, it automatically re-ignites, maintaining precise temperature control.
- Wok burner aptly handles all wok cooking techniques precision, from searing highs of 35,000 Btu to simmering lows of 3,500 Btu
- Porcelain-coated cast-iron wok ring cradles a traditional round-bottom wok, offering extreme pan maneuverability and the ability to angle the pan toward you for more agility with your ingredients
- Wok burner grate extends the capability of the wok burner, enabling use with flat-bottom pans
- Cleanup is so easy as sealed, seamless burner pans and the drip zone around the wok burner chamber contain sloshes and spills
- Move pots and pans easily across continuous cast-iron grates
- Matches seamlessly with other Sub-Zero, Wolf, and Cove products with heavy-gauge stainless steel and signature red infinite control knobs
My family and I love dim sum so much it has become our go-to Sunday morning ritual, always questing to find the best restaurant in the city and recommending the good ones to anyone that will listen. For my birthday earlier this year I made sure that we all met (12 of us) for dim sum as nothing else would do. Now having a Wolf Range top at home might take out some of the theatrics you get from going out for a wok cooked meal, but the benefit of having your favorite dishes at your fingertips far outweigh the dining experience.
The following is a recipe from a blog that I follow called The Woks of Life. They cover the ins and outs of Asian cooking with a focus on Chinese. I have tried many of their recipes and while they are all really great, this one is one of my favorites as an easy, wok fired meal!
Cantonese soy sauce pan-fried noodles
- 1 1/2 cups bean sprouts
- 2 scallions
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon sesame oil
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon sugar
- ½ tablespoon shaoxing rice wine
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper
- 8 oz. fresh thin Hong Kong Style Egg Noodles (225g; for pan-frying, not to be mistaken for “wonton noodles,” or 3 small bundles of dried Hong Kong Style Egg Noodles for pan-frying)
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Rinse the bean sprouts in cold water and drain. Julienne the scallions. Mix the soy sauces, sesame oil, salt, sugar, wine and white pepper in a small bowl and set aside.
- Boil the noodles. Fresh noodles should be boiled for about 1 minute. For dried noodles, boil for 2 minutes. Rinse in cold water and drain very well.
- Heat the wok over high heat and add a tablespoon of oil to coat the wok (you can also use a cast iron or non-stick pan for this). Spread the noodles in a thin, even layer on the wok and tilt the wok in a circular motion to distribute the oil and crisp the bottom layer of the noodles evenly. It should take about 5 minutes for the first side.
- Flip the noodles over. add another tablespoon of oil around the perimeter of the wok, and let the other side crisp up. Don’t stress if you can’t turn the noodles over in one shot. The goal here is just to get an even crispness and to dry out the noodles during this cooking stage. Set the noodles aside on a plate.
- Heat the wok over high heat. Add a tablespoon of oil and all of the white parts of the scallion to the pan. Cook for about 15 seconds. Next, add the noodles to the wok and toss them well, breaking up the noodles so they’re not all in one big clump. Add the soy sauce mixture and toss continuously for a couple minutes. Keep the heat on high.
- After the noodles are uniformly golden brown, add the bean sprouts and toss. Add the rest of the scallions and toss the mixture again for another 1 to 2 minutes until you see the bean sprouts just starting to turn transparent. You want the sprouts to be cooked but still crunchy.
- Plate and serve!
We will be displaying the 48 inch rangetop soon, so I would highly recommend coming in and taking a look at this. I have not been so excited for a new appliance in quite awhile as I am about this. Please give us a call or email us if you have any questions on this latest entry into the Wolf line of exceptional cooking appliances. At Metropolitan Appliance, we are always here to help.