When I asked my Chinese-born American buddy Julianne that question, her reply (like yours might be) was: “Um, what’s a wok?”
Well, I knew that a wok is a kind of cooking pan — and being a zebra who loves to roam (and is very fond of puns), I’ve always like saying stuff like “let’s go for a wok.” But Julianne and I wanted to explore all the sizzling secrets to wonderful wok cooking.
Since we think the best way to start on any new path of culinary discovery is to do some ZeSearch, we decided to begin in my ZeNormous cookbook library.
The next thing we did was call my friend Grace Young, who has written lots of award-winning cookbooks all about the wok and the amazing things it can do.
It turns out that the voyage into the world of woks is deliciously vast and exciting.
Since we thought we’d need to grab our passports and hop on a plane, we were pleasantly surprised when Grace told us that the best place to begin was practically in our own backyard, advising us to take a kid-and-zebra kitchen journey to San Francisco’s Chinatown.
Our destination: The Wok Shop — a magical store that offers the largest selection of woks outside of China and Hong Kong.
And we REALLY want you to come with us! But before we go, let’s get back to the question: what’s a wok?
Here’s what I know so far (and what I’ve shared with Julianne):
Basically, a wok is a do-it-all cooking vessel that’s a pot and a pan and pure magic all in one.
A wok has the power to transform even the simplest ingredients into something extraordinary, using only the tiniest bit of fuel.
A wok is happy to help you cook with all kinds of local and global flavors–and help you create unique flavor combinations that have a special meaning to you and your family and friends.
In many parts of the world, woks have been a way of life for about 2000 years.
When you learn about woks, you learn about life.
Like friends and families, woks and their food traditions connect people, places and cultures.
When you share a meal that’s been prepared in a wok, there is a feeling of connection–and the warmth and gratitude that comes from enjoying truly great food with people you love.
Okay, I hope that you’re getting as excited about the idea of learning to use a wok as Julianne and I are.
If you want to get even MORE fired up about wok cooking, please check out our music video (below): “Wokkin’ on Sunshine!”
Feeling fired up? Great — you’re in the perfect mood to watch Julianne’s interview with Tane.
In this video, Tane explains the fascinating basics of wok cooking (including that you can use them to cook burritos, which never occurred to me)!
And now: Here’s Tane!
Ready to keep wokking? Julianne and I definitely are — we hope you’ll join us as we continue on our journey, guided by Tane Chan, Grace Young and other famous wok stars. Stay tuned for more sizzling fun here in ZeBot’s Kitchen!
You can also get expert wok advice by joining Grace and the super-fun wokkers at Wok Wednesdays — a free online cooking club for people (and zebras) happily stir-frying their way to wok mastery.