I grew up in the house, in which long time only three cast-iron pans were used and everything was cooked using them. Therefore, when the wok iCook was brought me for a test, I opened the box with the doubt: well what it is possible to do in it, what can not be cooked in the old mother’s frying pan?

From the Editor. Buying kitchen appliances – is a delicate issue. Even if you have enough money to buy up all existing in-store assortment, there would be another problem: where to store all this wealth and then what to do with it? Often, toasters, food processors, blenders and coffee makers are actively involved in the home, only the first couple of months, and then they are forgotten in the closet. We decided to correct this misunderstanding and launched a series of articles “The appliances / cookware test “. We are not going to tell you about the variety of devices (sales consultants cope with it quite well), we will try and then explain how useful they are, how to use them and what miracles they are capable of. And then you already will decide for yourself whether you can live without these miracles.

The test instance: wok-pan iCook

I grew up in the house, in which long time only three cast-iron pans were used. They baked pancakes, they grilled chops and stewed ragout, as well as the yesterday’s pasta was warmed up, they also baked cakes for birthday cakes. And I still have not fully accepted the fact that the pan can be and should be not only different sizes and materials, but also they should be targeted the specific dishes and ways of cooking. Therefore, when the wok iCook was brought me for a test, I opened the box with the doubt: well what it is possible to do in it, what can not be cooked in the old mother’s frying pan?

icookWoks – are  “foreigners” in our kitchens. These frying pans are close relatives to cauldrons and came to us from South China, together with the increasingly popular Chinese cuisine. This cookware is distinguished a thick bottom with a small diameter and extending up the high wall. Woks are now made of various materials – from iron to copper. I got for test a sample of the seven-layers stainless steel.

Historically wok is intended for cooking on an open fire. The correct Chinese restaurants even the flame of the burner is adjusted so that it should lick the pan wall. I decided not to achieve this effect at home due to reasons of fire safety, but I specifically drove the wok to “tour” to the parents, who live in an apartment equipped with a gas stove. And indeed there is a difference. The tested wok warmed up slowly, somehow unwillingly on my electric stove: when the bottom was red-hot, the upper part of the wall still were not warmed. Oil began almost immediately to sizzle on the gas stove, and thrown into it meat  quickly got roasted and brown.

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Wok iCook has already adapted to urban conditions: it has a flat bottom to make it easier to put on the plate, and two handles of the heat-resistant material. In the original, a wok has a convex bottom and one handle. You have probably seen in the movies, as Chinese chefs deftly wield with them: they can mix the contents, only shaking the pan.

wok pan

Chicken with vegetables in sweet and sour sauce

The meals are prepared quickly and wok: somewhere 5-7 minutes. All the ingredients are pre-cut into small pieces – such that it should be convenient to take the sticks and immediately send in your mouth without biting. To warm up, I cooked chicken with vegetables in sweet and sour sauce. First I threw some pieces of breast which, stirring constantly, then I held them in a pan for about two minutes until half cooked. Following the same direction, young zucchini, leek and red pepper set off. If I were a scullion, I would not avoid a slap from Chief for such rudeness and negligence. The fact is that all the components according to the rules should be added one by one, from those that are prepared for a long time, until those need a few moments on the fire to cool. Then the meat gets roasted and has a browned crust and vegetables retain their useful properties and structure.

My feeling is that vegetables also retain color. The bright red peppers even confused me a little, all the time it seemed that the vegetables was not cooked and they must be left on the fire a little more.

wok icookAs I said, in a wok dishes are prepared quickly, it is necessary to stir them constantly. Therefore, the portions should be small, so that the pieces could be fried evenly. Ideally, it is better to cook the contents of the plates for one or two people in one go (200-300 grams). At first, I did not take it into account and uploaded in a wok full dinner for the whole family, as a result the temperature inside fell, and the ingredients refused to prepare simultaneously. A cover and a bit of water helped to correct the error. That is, our favorite stewing is subject to this eastern kitchen utensils. As manufacturers write, “thanks to a special hydraulic lock formed between the lid and the pan itself, food is prepared in its own juice, while retaining the natural flavor, aroma, natural color and texture of food, as well as vitamins and valuable trace elements “. I do not know what exactly the authors meant under  the word “hydraulic lock” (Encyclopedia says that this is such a part of the plumbing system) and, of course, I did not check the dish on the content of vitamins and minerals, but the fact that all the components retain their taste and the smell, is truth. And the most important is that tastes do not mix. That is, the bean does not get the smell of carrots and potatoes do not soak with tomato juice.

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There is another important point! Due to the fact that the contents of the wok is constantly in motion, it is necessary quite a bit of oil to cook. During my first experiments, I poured into the pan quite a lot oil – since it has no visible non-stick coating! But this precaution was unnecessary, food simply had no time to be burnt, if you stirred constantly and added water during stewing.

Steamed trout

Also wok is able to steam, deep-fry and even boil. I did not use it as a pan, I thought  this was boring experience, but I liked the prospect of replacing the bulky steamer. The kit of wok iCook includes a special grid for steaming. To test I bought a few pieces of Chilean trout, and it turned out that to cookit  is just as easy as in the conventional steam cooker. You should pour some clean water into the wok, heat it to boiling, and put the fish in the grid. Do not forget to cover wok with lid!

steam-troutAs a result, the fish in taste is not very different from the cooked one in a steam cooker, but what surprised me, it almost kept the color. Usually steamed trout becomes pale pink, and here the meat is brighter, more similar to meat of fried in oil fish. I even thought that the fish can not get to the readiness and overcooked it.

Among the few drawbacks of steaming using wok iCook – is a large grille. It is unlikely that you will succeed to cook the small vegetables or thin pieces of meat in such a way.

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Rice noodles with pork and vegetables

By the way, the food cooked in a wok is considered  a healthy and dietary. During its cooking little oil is used, and due to the fact that it is prepared quickly, vitamins and minerals are preserved. But at the same meal cooked in a wok does not refer to “high” cuisine, but rather to fast food. Now it is becoming  popular to book for lunch in office square paper boxes filled with different kinds of noodles with vegetables and meat or to arrange picnics with such food during a walk in the park.

Rice noodles with pork and vegetablesTrying to understand what young people with such enthusiasm pick out with sticks from the boxes, I has included  in the next paragraph of my test preparation of rice noodles with prawns. Please note that it is necessary to cook the noodles separately. The first time I made the mistake of putting in a wok undercooked noodles and mix it with vegetables. I hoped that it would come to readiness, together with the other ingredients. It turned out, of course, edible but not very tasty. The next time I mixed the ready-made components in the plate, even firing separately shrimps and vegetables. By the way, a special grill for heat preservation is included to the kit of the wok iCook. You can lay out on it what has already been done, but it should not cool down before serving.

In general, wok, of course, can be adapted to a usual kitchen. I have tried to cook it in vegetable for a soup and sauce for fish – Chinese pan has perfectly coped with these challenges. But nevertheless the wok has a different philosophy. It will be the star in the kitchen of bold and open to the experiments people, and in traditional homes it will turn into an ordinary and not very comfortable frying pan. The more that good woks are quite expensive. But connoisseurs say that buying a good wok, you gain a tool for life and that over time you begin to understand when food is cooked in the right wok and when – in wok made without using technology of its analogies.