My carbon steel wok is 13 years old and a treasured part of my kitchen gear. I found it for $5 on a clearance table and snapped it up, and that little bargain has proven invaluable over time. It wasn’t my first wok as I had given the nonstick woks a try, but after going through two of them and throwing them away due to peeling, I decided to go with carbon steel, which seasons over time similar to a good cast iron pan. It’s on the smallish side, about 12 inches across, but the size has been perfect for our family, up until recently.
Asian food is one of our boys’ favorites and usually a solid bet for dinner time, and a few months ago we decided that we should probably have two woks so we can have multiple dishes served for meals. So we added another carbon steel 12-inch wok to our kitchen as well as a domed lid.
Like cast iron pans, carbon steel woks are easy to care for. Season your wok before first use, then after cooking just rinse and lightly brush out any food particles and hand dry or heat on the stove just until dry. I also lightly rub the inside of my woks with a little oil before putting away. With a little care a carbon steel wok should last a lifetime and you’ll have years of enjoying homemade Asian food, like this Spring stir-fry with asparagus and snow peas.
Chicken Stir-Fry with Asparagus and Snow Peas
- glass pie plate or 8×8 pan
- wok and lid
- steamer basket
- splatter screen (optional, recommended)
- 4 chicken breasts (boneless and skinless, thinly sliced)
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons gluten-free Chinese rice wine (or gin or dry white wine)
- 16 ounces asparagus spears (cut into 1-½ inch pieces)
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 2 cloves garlic (sliced)
- ½ inch ginger (sliced)
- 2 cups snow peas (ends trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces)
- 4 tablespoons gluten-free light soy sauce
- 1 cup chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
- Place the sliced chicken in the glass pan and sprinkle on the cornstarch. Pour the rice wine over the top and stir until the cornstarch mixture coats the chicken. Set aside while preparing the vegetables.
- Add an inch or so of cold water to the wok and place the steamer basket in the wok. Turn the burner on high and distribute the asparagus pieces around the steamer basket. Steam for 2 to 3 minutes, just enough to soften slightly, then turn off the heat and transfer the asparagus to a plate. Remove the steamer basket, dump the water, and wipe the inside of the wok dry.
- Add the canola oil and the garlic and ginger slices to the wok and let them sit for 1 to 2 minutes, then turn the heat to medium high. Remove the garlic and ginger when they start to brown.
- Add the chicken to the wok and cook while stirring until the chicken is just cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate and cover.
- Add the snow peas and steamed asparagus, cooking just for 1 to 2 minutes. Return the chicken to the wok, add the chicken stock and light soy sauce and bring to a boil, cooking for about 1 minute while the sauce thickens. Remove from heat and serve.