If you don’t have a wok in your life, you’re missing out. Grace Young joins our editors to explain how this kitchen essential works its culinary magic. She gives her best tips on how to season your wok, keys to making a great stir-fry, and the appropriate tools to use while cooking with it.
What We’re Cooking Now: Zucchini
Sarah loves to make zucchini pancakes. She tends to wing it without a recipe, but this is a great one.
Chris is a grudging zucchini fan, but he does like to incorporate it into a grilled ratatouille, along with eggplant, tomatoes, and peppers. It’s a great way to draw out all the moisture in zucchini, as well as all these other summer vegetables.
Diana also loves to grill her zucchini, cut into long planks, which she can then use on a pizza or sandwiches, or wrap around cheese for a fun hors d’oeuvre (try this recipe with Diana’s favorite, burrata, instead of the goat cheese).
Kathy’s favorite method is to stir-fry zucchini in a wok because the high-heat helps sear it and cook off the moisture.
Wok Cooking with Grace Young
Grace is the author of several cookbooks on wok cookery, including Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge , Breath of a Wok and The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen. Her latest feature for Fine Cooking focuses on stir-frying, but she’s also written about the many other uses for a wok.
For most cooks, grace recommends a 14-inch, flat-bottom carbon-steel wok with a wooden handle and a short helper handle. And her preferred tool for stir-frying is actually a delicate fish spatula rather than a Chinese spatula, to avoid scratching the wok. She likes buying her woks from San Francisco-based WokShop.com. For hard-core fans, Grace loves the handmade work from the Etsy shop Newquist Forge.
The great thing about stir-frying at home is that you can really use a minimal amount of meat and emphasize the vegetables (or use all vegetables!), for a much healthier dish than you’ll find in a restaurant.
Grace is the patron saint, so to speak, to a Facebook group called Wok Wednesdays. Members cook their way through her books, and Grace is a frequent participant in the group, answering questions about where to find ingredients or the finer points of wok technique.
Need more help with wok cooking? Don’t miss Grace’s new video for Wok Therapy.
We offer some advice on the best way to freeze fresh berries.
Another reader asks about good ways to use carrot tops. Be sure to try our carrot top pesto, but they’re also a great addition to vegetable broth, and can even be added directly to salads (use it in moderation, as you would an herb).
Late summer cocktail ideas:
Diana: Watermelon Mule
Sarah: Heirloom Tomato Bloody Mary
Kathy: Peach-Basil Margarita