Why Waste a Wok?

Phad Thai - stir-fried rice noodles with prawns
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Unless you're whipping up a quick and easy stir-fry for dinner or wowing guests with your culinary prowess by dropping batter-coated chicken balls into a bath of sizzling oil, the wok remains in the cupboard. In other words, you use it only when cooking Chinese food.

Even if your wok gets a lot of use when cooking stir-fries or other Asian food, it has so much more potential. Consider these unique ways to make better use of this versatile utensil.

Ways to Use a Wok

  • With its wide top and plenty of room, a wok is great for tossing a salad.
  • Woks are great for making taco filling or any of the rice-and-pea sort of dishes like arroz con pollo or paella.
  • Since some find using a wok on an electric stove cumbersome and inefficient, use it in a completely un-culinary way as an elegant flower pot to decorate a garden area.
  • A 14-inch wok is perfect for mixing batters and kneading dough.
  • A wok is great for scrambling eggs, especially in large quantities. The eggs cook almost instantaneously, with no sticking, even if you've pre-cooked some vegetables before adding the eggs to the wok.
  • Use an electric wok for beef fondue. It beats a regular fondue set -- no denatured alcohol burning (and smelling), and the surface area is bigger. It works like a champ! Just be sure to watch that no one trips over the electric cord.
  • When cooking a Mexican-style meal, set your wok on very low heat and use it to keep tortillas warm.
  • It makes a dandy room freshener -- put some water and a piece of lemon, orange, lime, cinnamon stick, etc, and put it on low heat. 
  • Put mesquite chips in a wok and lay a rack over it. It imparts a quick smoked flavor to just about anything. Just make sure you have a good exhaust fan and putting foil on the bottom makes cleanup easier.
  • Use it as a steamer by placing an empty tuna fish can with both ends cut off in the bottom with water. Place a pan on top of the can and you're good to go.
  • You can roast green coffee beans in a wok, though you need to do so outside (lots of smoke).
  • A wok is great for steaming lobster.