‘You don't need fancy equipment’ - Ching He Huang shares tips on how to ‘treat your wok right’

Virgin Radio

9 Feb 2024, 14:09

Ching He Huang talks to Chris Evans at Virgin Radio

Food writer and chef Ching He Huang swung by Virgin Radio to turn the pages of her brand new recipe book, Wok For Less.

The book, which is out now, aims to help support people during the cost-of-living crisis with budget-friendly Asian meals that can be made in 30 minutes or less. Joining the Chris Evans Breakfast Show with cinch, the Taiwanese-born British food writer and TV chef spoke about some of her favourite recipes in her new book, and gave some handy tips about woks.

She said: “You don't need fancy equipment. Just one wok. You can make soup broths, you can make delicious stir fries, you can add noodles, turn that into another meal. Honestly, the list goes on, you can make delicious omelettes. So, you don't need any fancy pan, you just need a £10 wok from your local supermarket, and away you go. A couple of sauces, and even if you mess up the first stir fry, like the veggies are a little bit soft and a bit limp, it's still magical and delicious.

“A wok is something that you can keep for years, for your whole life, even. So if you treat your wok right, then it's gonna last forever. So the key to that is a good stainless steel wok, less than £15, or carbon steel, both great.”

On what to do when you buy a brand new wok, the chef explained: “Traditionally, we use carbon steel and then we season, with a little bit of burning just some scallions or spring onions, before you do anything in it. So when you buy it, it has a coating of oil, a manufacturer's coating just to protect from rusting. You want to scrub with a little bit of soapy water, get that off and then put it on a high heat and then put toasted sesame oil, because it burns easily, and then some spring onions and you just literally keep burning the base of the spring onion so it colours the wok.”

The recipes in Wok For Less facilitate vegetarian diets and meat-eaters alike, and Ching offers a pared down pantry guide to making the most of store cupboard ingredients to save you time and money so that we can eat well and waste less. When asked whether you should heat the wok before putting in the oil, she replied: “Hot wok first, and then the oil. You need the smoke rising off the surface, just a little wisp of it and then you add the oil. And the reason is, the wok’s got to be super hot so that you're going to get the sizzle as soon as you put the oil in. The oil is almost instant. And then you start to add the ingredients and you want that instant sensation of that burst of sizzle."

Regarding what is the best oil to use, she said: “Rapeseed oil, a vegetable oil or an odourless, flavourless oil, because what you're doing you're going to add the flavour to it.

“You can use a little bit of olive oil in your stir fries. It is healthy. I love olive oil, but it's a bit of a waste. Save your extra virgin for your salad. Don't waste it, basically.”

Tomorrow (Saturday 10th February) is Chinese New Year. Before Ching left, she told listeners: “The main thing is wishing everyone a fantastic new year in the Year of The Dragon. The Dragon is the luckiest sign in the Chinese zodiac. And so I hope the Dragon will bless all of us, because it's the luckiest sign, it'll bring lots of wealth, love, prosperity and peace. It's a very auspicious animal.”

Wok For Less is out now. For more information, visit chinghehuang.com.

For more great interviews listen to The Chris Evans Breakfast Show with cinch weekdays from 6:30am on Virgin Radio, or catch up on-demand here.