Greetings to all food lovers,

The “kwali” and the wok are the same thing. The kwali is a Malay word meaning a cooking pan, the wok, is a Cantonese word meaning the same thing.

A Cast Iron Kwali or Wok

A Cast Iron 'Kwali' or Wok

The kwali or wok, call it whatever you prefer is used in most stir fry dishes.

To cook with a kwali or wok you need a ladle called a ‘wok chan’, this is like a small shovel with a long wooded or metal handle.

The kwali has been used for a very very long time in Asian countries. In the olden days, the kwali was made of cast iron, and this is still the best material for a kwali if you can find one.

 Nowadays, you can find woks of different sizes and different materials. From experience I’ll always use a cast iron wok, this gives you even heat and heat is retain during cooking, perfect for stir fry.

Non stick woks are not so good because you need quick stirring and high heat, they often chip with too much stirring and will not last long. The woks today even have handles for easy handling. You can buy woks with or without covers, most stir fry don’t need a cover, you do need a cover for steaming and slow cooking.

Buy a size that fits your family, too small and you won’t be able to stir well, too big and you may not have enough room to place on your stove. If your stove can’t sit a wok, buy a wok stand.

A Typical Malay Kampong

A Typical Malay Kampong

 In the kampongs, during feast days, ‘khenduri’ or ‘ Hari Raya’ the kwali they use is so huge they usually cook a whole cow in it. In Chinese villages, they too have huge woks for festival days.

When you buy a new wok, you need to season it, ‘open wok’ to the Chinese.

Usually grandmothers love to do this job, the wok is placed on high heat after you have rinsed it, a piece of pork lard and a bunch of chives are stir fried in the wok, moving the chives and lard all over to cover every bit of the surface. This is done till the chives are burnt and there is oil over the wok.

For vegetarians, use any oil and chives, the chives is suppose to remove any unwanted toxic material from the metal. Wipe the wok clean with paper towel, put in 1 tablesp. Oil and fry an egg, if the egg fries well, your wok is ready, or you may have to repeat the chives frying again.

To care for your wok, after cooking, wash clean, dry, and heat on stove again empty, this will keep your wok from rust. For a cast iron wok, long usage and proper cleaning will often leave it shinning.

For stir fry in a cast iron wok, the wok is heated up before oil is poured in, this is to spread the heat around, with the thin material woks, you don’t need to heat it up, they heat up very quickly and tend to burn if the heat is too high. Prepare all your ingredients in advance so they can be added quickly and stirred around.

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