These expert tips will help you achieve the perfect balance of flavours.
8 May 2013 - 3:44 PM  UPDATED 6 Sep 2013 - 9:31 AM

Selecting a wok

For the beginner, it is best to buy a wok set with a lid, ring, wok turner, ladle, and strainer. A wok made of low carbon steel is preferred, as this type of metal is a better conductor of heat.

Seasoning and cleaning a wok

If you buy a nonstick wok you will need to season it before you use it.  After use, never use detergent; clean with water and place back on the gas to burn away impurities, wipe with a paper towel with a little oil to keep it at its best.

Stir frying

The secret to the success of a good stir-fry is to prepare all ingredients before starting to cook. Also, heat the wok first before adding any oil to reduce smoking; cook over high heat and keep the food moving; partially cook the vegetables first by blanching or soaking in hot water.

Steaming fish

When steaming fish, slice through flesh for even cooking. This allows the heat to penetrate the thicker parts of the fish, preventing the thinner parts (especially near the tail) from overcooking. If marinating the fish before cooking, this also allows the flesh to absorb the flavours.

Re-hydrating dried mushrooms

Dried mushrooms, such as shitake, which are popular in Chinese cooking, are a great pantry stand-by. Soak in boiling water for 30 minutes to revive them. Strain the soaking liquid and add to the dish for extra flavour.

Sticking to the steamer

To avoid food sticking to the bamboo steamer either place a cabbage leaf (or similar) in the bamboo steamer (placing the dumplings on top). Alternatively, cut a round of baking paper and cut holes into it.