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Giveaway – Chinese Vegetable Cleaver

If there is one thing I’ve learned in my road to wok mastery it is that preparation is key. Without a proper “mise en place”, your stir-fry is bound to go awry. There are dozens of gadgets to help you cut, chop, julienne, and dice, but when you get down to brass tacks you find all you really need is a good knife. This Chinese vegetable cleaver is similar to what you’d find in kitchens across the world, with a wide flat blade perfect for scooping and scraping, a well-balance handle, and a razor-shop cutting edge, and…it could be YOURS!

cleaver

Here’s what you need to do for a chance to win this cleaver – leave a comment on this post answering the following question:

What’s your favorite tip for making stir-frying easier? OR (if you’re new to Wok Wednesdays) What about stir-frying intimidates or confuses you the most?

Many, many, MANY thanks to Wok Wednesdays member Jennifer Thomas for her generous donation of this cleaver. Jennifer picked it up at Hong Kong’s famous cutlery store Chan Chi Kee. Jennifer, you rock!

The giveaway will run until 11:59pm Monday, September 30th. One winner will be chosen from the comments.

– Matt

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42 responses »

  1. Although I’ve heard of Wok Wednesdays, I’m new to your blog. The thing that intimidates me the most about stir-frying is the ability to cook some ingredients, push them to the side while you cook others, and then combine. Maybe I just need a larger wok?

    Reply
  2. Ohhh, That cleaver is beautiful and I MUST enter! 😉 I’m very new to wok cooking, but the thing that intimidates me the most are the sauces. I’m a southern cook and I’m used to tasting as I go to adjust most dishes to my liking, but I’m not quite sure (yet) how to do that with things like oyster sauce and rice wine, but I’m working on it!

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  3. My best tip is to use Jasmine rice with your dish, when you want rice. Jasmine cooks up in 10-15 minutes on the stove top. You can start that right before you start your Chinese cooking, and it will be done at the same time. Oh, and use chicken broth instead of water for the rice. Much tastier.

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  4. My biggest tip for beginners would be to turn down the heat if you run the risk of burning things (especially garlic), better to go slow until you’re confident enough for really high temps. It’ll still taste good!

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  5. Season your wok every chance you get. Dry it on a low flame after you wash/rinse it and when it gets nice and hot, coat it with a LIGHT film of oil. Rinse lightly before using it for cooking. If you have an all metal wok, you can coat with oil and throw it in a 450 oven every time you notice the patina wearing. Pretty soon you’ll have a really slip and slide patina.

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  6. My best tip is……. Grace Young. She is a wealth of information and always graciously willing to help us learn ever aspect of wonderful Wok cooking. Thank you.

    Reply
  7. I create a “cheat sheet” which is just an abbreviated list of steps in the recipe on a small pad next to my “mise en place.” For example:
    + gar & ging- 10 sec
    + on & veg-1 m.
    The above translates as “add garlic and ginger and stir fry for 10 seconds. Next add the onions and vegetables and stir fry for one minute” and so on.

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  8. I mark my recipes with curly braces in front of all ingredients that can be put in at the same time. Then I have less bowls ready to go. I also underline the timings. (Everything in pencil, I hate to mar this beautiful book too much:)

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  9. I have been cooking with my wok for just over a month now. The best tip I can offer is set up everything you need right by your stove/wok in the order you need them. This way when your are cooking everything will go smoothly and you aren’t having to stop to get an item you forgot yo prep!

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  10. Please don’t enter me in the drawing for I already have a cleaver – I just want to leave a tip or two. As we know, ingredients need to be as dry as possible before adding to the wok to avoid oil splatters. I find a salad spinner works great at drying most items. Also I highlight the ingredient name and the stir-fry time in the instructions so I am not constantly re-reading trying to figure out where I left off. Good luck to all the participants!! It’s a beautiful cleaver!

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  11. My best tip is to trust your eyes and nose. When vegetables turn color, when they start to smell differently they are getting close to being ready. I was always staring at the clock to count off minutes or seconds. Now I just stare into my wok!

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  12. Read through the entire recipe before starting. This helps prepare your mind for when the wok is hot and ready to go. Also, season the wok. Often! Making popcorn in the wok really helps to season it quickly (thanks for that tip, Grace Young!).

    Reply
  13. Hi…I am new to Wok Wednesdays….but I must say that Chinese vegetable cleaver looks amazing….and I would love to try it……I am new to stir frying too…and I always cook the thin strips of meat too long 😦 I would love to learn how to cut all my vegetables the same size so they not only cook properly…but they look nice too !!!

    Reply
  14. I make a linear list in large print (with space between each step) of all of the steps with the time next to each step. As a relatively new wokker, this really helps me. I also try to combine the ingredients that go in at the same time into a single bowl to save on dishwashing. And mise en place is essential.

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  15. Hello,
    I’m as new as you can get to Woking and what intimidated me the most was trying not to over cooked the veggies. Best tip I found was to blanch the veggies in boiling water for a few minutes then immediately cool them down in cold water to stop the cooking process.Then when ready add veggies to stir fry for final few minutes of cooking. My family just loves my stir fry now! 🙂

    Reply
  16. As a pescetarian my tip for people cooking a stir fry involving shrimp is to add a bit more shrimp than they’ll think they will need. Because they are gonna shrink on you.

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  17. I generally stir fry with more liquid so the food would be partially immersed. This would help spread the flavor to the food as well as allow the food to be heated to be cooked. If you don’t like too much liquid, cook the food slightly longer to evaporate the excess liquid.

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  18. melissa waggoner

    My favorite tip for stir-frying is to replace the standard top on the bottle of peanut oil with a flip top spout/pourer so that I can drizzle the oil down the side of the wok. It slows the speed of the oil flow and I am able to get the one tablespoon needed to start a delicious stir-fry from my most favorite Grace Young cookbook, of course.

    Reply
  19. Hello! I’m new to WW; I’ve been enjoying and learning from The Book for about 6 weeks now.
    Things that help me (besides all the great information in the book):
    (1) Reading every recipe several times before shopping;
    (2) Combining ingredients that will be added at the same time in the same bowl when doing my prep work, so I only have to add one “batch” of such ingredients instead of adding multiple bowls of ingredients at the same time (this works for many, but not all, ingredient “combos;”
    (3) I have the digital version of SFTTSE, and I like to copy Grace’s recipes into my “Paprika” app so that I can highlight and cross off ingredients and times as I go along;
    (4) having a copy of the recipe (or in my cases, my “Paprika” version on the iPad) hanging out of harm’s way above the stove so that I can easily read it as I go along without having to move back and forth from stove to counter-top.

    Things I’m still having trouble with:
    (1) Figuring out how to time and prepare multiple dishes so that they are ready at the same time for a meal (I only have one wok!)
    (2) (This is silly!) How to tell when snap peas are “bright green” — maybe I’m color-blind, but they don’t look much different in color when they’re cooked/ready than when they are raw!

    PS – I really appreciate the tips everyone else is leaving here — great ideas, and very helpful to a new wokker. Thanks to all.

    Reply
  20. What a lovely cleaver!

    I’m brand new to the Wok Wednesday group, but not new to stir-frying. My tip is to go to take miss-en-place one step further. Combine ingredients that will go in at the same time into one bowl, and line all the bowls of ingredients up in the order they will go into the wok. I do my wok cooking outdoors, so they get lined up around the edge of my patio table. If I’m making more than one dish, the second dish will get lined up alongside the first (as an “inner ring” on my round table), and so on. Having everything set out in order eliminates any need to consult the recipe while cooking.

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  21. Pretty much what everyone else said and what Grace writes in her book:

    Get all the ingredients chopped up in little bowls next to the stove
    before you start to cook
    . I use something like these – http://www.casa.com/p/pyrex-bakeware-6-oz-clear-custard-cups-set-of-4-229300?site=CA&utm_source=Google&utm_medium=cpc_C&utm_term=ZPV-703&utm_campaign=GoogleAW&CAWELAID=1309113082&utm_content=pla&adtype=pla&cagpspn=pla

    Dry the ingredients with a paper or cloth towel.
    Preheat the wok.
    Drizzle the oil down the side of the wok, don’t pour it in the bottom.

    Seems to work.

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  22. Two things have helped me with stir frying. The first is that I bought a large high-output propane burner that produces 60,000 btu at the highest setting. I do my stir-frying on the patio and at that level of heat things are done in seconds.
    The second is that I go to the supermarket and buy cheap paper picnic bowls and use them for each of my ingredients. Everything is ready to go on the table next to my wok station.
    If people come over, I put out large glass bowls with various proteins and vegetables and encourage my guests to take 3 or 4 paper bowls and put the ingredients they want in them and bring them to me at the wok.

    Makes clean up so easy.

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  23. “mise en place” makes stir-frying easier with prepped vegetables/meats cut and/or blanched with sauce/seasonings before the wok is hot — then you are ready to orchestrate

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  24. new to WW here. I’m still trying to figure out how long to cook something so that it’s evenly cooked

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  25. I love using a wok. When you stir-fry in a wok, unlike a skillet, you get even heat on the bottom and up the sides. So, it evenly cooks. It’s a wondeful tool. So is that beautiful knife.

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  26. When cooking protein use white wine,corn starch and ginger to coat your protein to keep it moist…….

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  27. I am relatively new to stir frying, and I am very intimidated about cooking with shrimp. I don’t know how to handle it, or how long to cook it, but i love to eat it!

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  28. My biggest challenges when cooking with a wok are: temperature (very hot or lower temp?) and whether to use a traditional on-the-stove wok or an electric type. I mostly do stirfry veggies with chicken or pork served over rice.

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  29. My tip is to be completely prepped, mise en place. Then you can focus on the process.

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  30. I recently lost my Yan Can Cook knife from Martin Yan that I had for 20 years!! This one looks gorgeous for my replacement. My best tip for wok frying is to allow time to stop when preparing and cooking. The precision cutting and multi-tasking frying is such an opportunity for focusing, being in the monent. It all becomes magical. And then… you get to eat what you made, and later in cleanup, you get to be grateful for the implements others conceived, designed and created ti enable your kitchen magic.

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  31. I stir-fry with store-bought sauces, and the results always taste disgusting — not at all like what I get in restaurants. I have a wok and have tried repeatedly to make it work, but the results are consistently awful.

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  32. To be honest, I don’t use a wok, and unless Grace Young brings me one I probably never will. I do, however, use knives, and my 35 year old chef’s knife is defying the stone, so I could use that cleaver, and if Grace shows up with a wok I’ll use wok and cleaver to cook her dinner.

    Reply
  33. I do not own a Wok but I LOVE this page and would love to start woking

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  34. Stir-frying will automatically be easier if you get a good Chinese cleaver, learn to grasp it with your thumb on one side of the blade and other fingers firmly bunched on the other side, and practice the art of slicing or chopping ingredients into just the right shape and size so that they can be added to a good hot wok in the right order. Doesn’t take long for all this to become almost instinctive. (Especially if you have one of Grace Young’s books!)

    Reply
  35. When I cook steak, mashed potatoes and peas there are only three flavors on the plate. When I make stir fry the sky is the limit. Try to add as many different flavors as possible. Love to toast nuts in the wok, remove them as I work on the protein/veggies and then add the nuts back at the last minute. Yum!!!

    Reply
  36. I guess my best “tip” is to make sure you have everything you need ahead of time; have the rice cooking while you are stir frying the meat and veggies. Sometimes I get a bit intimidated by all of the ingredients called for in some of the recipes I run across.
    Digicats {at} Sbcglobal {dot} Net

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  37. What intimidates me is I don’t even know what kind of wok to buy I’ve had some in the past,, but they’ve rusted. Iv’e tried some recipes before, just didn’t taste the same, I love Chinese food but it seems so challenging to cook, just getting to know the seasonings and sauces, having the right equipment. But now that I found this sight things seem hopeful.

    Reply
  38. What intimidates me is using my butane stove in my kitchen to get my wok hot enough to work properly – the wife goes ballistic! Any suggestions or words of wisdom?

    Reply
  39. I am new to Woking…but look forward to learning so much. I love Chinese food and there isn’t a decent restaurant in our town. With Gloria’s inspiration…patience and tips I hope to learn it well. My biggest tip for stir fry is prep, prep, prep!

    Reply
  40. I can’t believe I said “Gloria” instead of Grace…a thousand apologies from the woman with loads of senior moments.

    Reply
  41. Over the last few weeks, my new wok has quickly become one of my most used kitchen pans. My biggest challenge is learning how to improvise or adjust recipes. When I cook western food, I have the time to taste, season and adjust, but wok cooking is so fast that I don’t feel the same flexibility. I’m hoping as I get more familiar with using eastern ingredients, it will get easier to predict how they each affect the dish.

    Reply

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