Street Cooking With The Wok

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In the streets of Asia, if the food isn’t served grilled or raw, it’s cooked with a wok. The wok is a rounded cooking vessel that originally came from Guangdong Province in China. It can be used almost all kinds of cooking from pan fried to smoking and from steaming to stewing. The main benefit in using the wok for street food is that it consumes less fuel and chances are very low that you get to burn the food because the hottest area is tiny and found at the bottom of the wok. Also, the wok minimizes spills and one can cook 2 things at the same time: stir fry and steam. Finally, with the rounded bottom, you use less oil and therefore can preserve the flavors of the food better.

The Best Street Food Cooked In a Wok

In Bangkok, the best street foods cooked in a wok is debatable depending on your personal taste but a few of the top favorites are:

  • Sukhothai noodles with roasted peanuts – Thin rice noodles with pork, sugar, green beans, and tamarind.
  • Pad Thai – Favorite noodle dish with garlic, bean curd, chives, sugar, fish sauce, and tamarind. It can be served spicy.
  • Phad kee mao – Also known as drunken noodles and served with prawns and smoky gravy

In Vietnam, the amazing street foods cooked using the wok:

  • Pho – This is a traditional Vietnam noodle dish
  • Banh xeo – small crispy pancakes with onions, pork, and shrimp cooked with turmeric and wrapped in lettuce or rice paper
  • Lemongrass beef stir fry

For a safe street food experience in Asia, here are some tips you should be aware of and follow:

  1. In Thailand, there is a 10 point standard all street food vendors must follow. Make sure you eat from these vendors by asking them about it.
  2. Some cooks partially cook the food and then toss it back into the wok for the finishing touches. This is normal in Asia because meat is not as tender.
  3. Observe the cooking style and habits of the vendor before you buy. Look at the surroundings, plates, bowls and utensils if they are clean with sufficient clean water supply.
  4. Follow the crowd.
  5. Check the oil if it is light-colored or dark-colored.
  6. Look for city permits and sanitation licenses.
  7. Pork and chicken have to be fully cooked or you could get sick. Any fresh salads should be thoroughly washed. If possible, avoid eating fresh vegetables. Instead, settle for vegetables cooked in a wok.

Finally, eat with gusto but try not to overdo it. You may not be accustomed to certain flavors and styles in cooking so it is best to stay on the conservative side first until you get used to the cuisine.

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