10 Perfectly Charred Wok-Hei Recipes

10 Perfectly Charred Wok-Hei Recipes

Bring a new taste dimension to all your classic fried Asian dishes

Getting a durable wok pays for itself fairly quickly. Not only does it open up a whole new world of dishes you can now make with relative ease (disclaimer: the artful wok-toss still requires some practice), it creates the much coveted seared texture across the entire dish that’s near impossible to get with our non-stick or stainless steel pans. Wok frying isn’t solely designed for creating a fragrant Nasi Goreng or tasty Hor Fun – it allows you to whip up some amazing gravies, seafood and omelets with such a flair that it will impress your spectators at home. These mouthwatering dishes are just the tip of the iceberg of what a wok can toss up, but perhaps they will open up a whole new world of frying possibilities for you.

1. Singapore Hokkien Mee

Stories have it that Hokkien Mee was born as a way to use the excess noodles from the noodle factories that the early Fujian immigrants worked in. Whether you like yours wet or dry, there is no denying that the sweet, savory stock is utterly irresistible, and we all love slurping up the glossy noodles along with succulent prawns and chewy squid. The wok is almost mandatory here, as it gives this well-loved hawker dish the distinct charred aroma that mingles with the smell of the sea.

2. Nasi Goreng Ayam Rendang

Gloriously golden with a hint of fiery red, Nasi Goreng Ayam Rendang brings the best of spiced Rendang and fluffy rice grains together in a mesmerizing dish. A handy wok helps to coat every single rice grain with the creamy and savory rendang sauce without it breaking down and getting mushy. Serve up with a squeeze of lime all over to open up those delightful flavors even more.

3. Kung Pao King Mushroom

Craving for a tongue-numbing dish but don’t have access to meat? No problem. Mushrooms make for a great vegetarian substitute in this Kung Pao King Mushroom delight. Sear your ingredients evenly with a wok in making this fiery dish, and you can even use the typical Sichuan chili oil that’s infused with star anise, cinnamon and ginger to take the deliciousness up a level. 

4. Pad Thai Noodles

What gives Pad Thai Noodles it’s distinct taste is not just the juicy chicken pieces or tangy tamarind. If you ever tucked into this popular street fare in Thailand, there is an undeniable seared flavor in every strand of rice noodle, that goes so well with the crushed peanuts and refreshing spring onions. It’s also super easy to make at home – another reason for its popularity around the world.

5. Chinese Wok-Tossed Mussels

If you ever had to work with large chunks of meat, weighty seafood or a huge serving of fried rice of noodles, you would most likely be best buddies with your trusty wok. Fry up these Chinese Wok-Tossed Mussels in a jiffy on those time-strapped weeknights for an umami dinner dish. Having a big cast-iron or carbon steel wok allows for your mussels to be cooked evenly and quickly, and prevents the annoying escapade of ingredients over the top of shallow pans.

6. Nonya-Style Ikan Bakar

Nonya-Style Ikan Bakar or Burnt Fish, as it loosely translates to, is a family-sharing seafood favorite in Indonesia and Malaysia. This roasted fish offers layers of varying textures with each mouthful, from the flaky white flesh to the crunchy fish skin, both of which combines so well with the punchy, greasy sambal. A large wok allows you to achieve the ideal level of crispiness on the fish skin, and allows for easier flipping without splattering oil everywhere.

7. Singapore Chili Crab

Even masterchef Gorden Ramsey is a fan of the quintessential Singapore Chili Crab. Who can resist indulging in the sweet, succulent flesh of freshly wok-fried Sri Lankan crabs that’s covered in a lovely crimson, viscous and eggy sauce? Preparing this dish is already no mean feat, and if you don’t have a wok to manage these crabs that easily weigh over one kilogram each, you’ll be straining to flip any of them over. Pair the absolutely delightful sauce with golden deep fried mantous and you’ll be licking the gravy off your greasy fingers in no time. 

8. Wok Tossed Beef

Talk about cooking on the move! Luke Nguyen tosses up a medium-rare Wok Tossed Beef in a rumbling train (having a wok definitely helps the ingredients stay in one place in a shaking locomotive!). If that is not proof enough how easy this lightly spiced, colorful dish is to whip up, he actually does it in under five minutes. Spring onions and jasmine flowers balances out the heavier, earthy beef with a refreshing crunch in this simple side dish.

9. Ipoh Hor Fun

The secret to so many Asian dishes – even soups and porridges – is to stir-fry your carbohydrate base first. This classic Ipoh Hor Fun is no different in that aspect, as rice noodles are sautéed with shallots to not only dry up the moisture in the noodles a little, but to infuse it with savory toasted flavors.

10. Oyster Omelette

Out with friends for late night supper or enjoying a sumptuous seafood feast at your local restaurant that’s near or on the kelong (offshore fishing platform)? Chances are that all of you will be digging into the greasy, chewy and sticky Oyster Omelette. Each bite floods your palette with ocean-brine flavors, especially when the coveted oysters burst under your teeth. Also known as Orh Jian or Or Luak, this dish can be fried in different ways, with either a crunchy exterior, or retaining a creamy, gooey texture throughout the omelet.

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