Wok Power! – video |Bao or Chao|

In China, wok cooking involves 2 fundamental techniques known as bao and chao. The bao technique is the stir-fry. The wok must be hot enough and only then does the cook add oil, seasonings, and meats, in very rapid succession.

The water in the food evaporates in a flash of steam, so juices do not leach out and do not accumulate in the bottom of the wok, and hence “stew” the food, as often happens when you are sauteing.

Small pieces of seafood are easy to manage and flip in the wok by using the boa spatula. Wok cooks using the bao technique exploit the shape of the wok by tilting it on the burner so that less of the wok is heated. This is also done to clean the wok with water and sweep it dry with the bamboo wok brush.

An expert at bao cooking keeps control by continually tossing the food in a circular motion, stopping for a few seconds to add vegetables or seafood.

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The chao technique is similar to the western technique of the covered saute. To cook using the chao, you heat the wok to a moderate temperature and then add cooking oil. The wok heat is intense but not as intense as with bao. Dry ingredients, typically garlic and ginger, come later. Vegetables and any liquids go into the wok last.