Kitchen layout

As so much Chinese cooking requires fast work at the wok, it is vital that the kitchen be well laid out in order to avoid the kind of confusion which might spoil a dish.

The preparation sections should be separate from the cooking area and have one or two cutting boards, the knives and cleavers and the various preparation utensils on hand, plus a supply of small plates and dishes to contain the prepared ingredients.

Position the wok cooker as close to the sink as possible as it will have to be carried to the sink for washing between each use. Have the cooking utensils – spatula, ladle, strainers, chopsticks, wooden spoons, etc. – close by and the seasoning ingrdients, thickeners, and cooking oils readily available.

Certain brands of soy sauce are marketed in small bottles with shaker/pourer nozzles. These make it clean and easy to measure the sauce and to swirl it around the sides of the wok, as is required in so many recipes. Use them also for cooking wine and oil. Experience soon becomes a better judge than a measuring spoon for these ingredients. There are also small sauce jugs available, resembling tiny teapots with long spouts. These are excellent for dispensing all liquid seasonings and cooking oils.

Keep salt, pepper, m.s.g., and other frequently used dry ingredients in squat containers with tight-fitting lids. These can be lined up close to the work area and make it easier for spoon measuring than if they are retained in their original packaging.

Make sure there is a pair of sturdy oven gloves or a thick cloth readily on hand for holding and lifting the wok as the handles can become very hot during cooking.

Taken from Jacki Passmore and Daniel Reid’s book “The Complete Chinese Cookbook” with permission. © Jacki Passmore and Daniel P. Reid. Published by Charles E. Tuttle Company, Inc. ISBN 0-8048-3158-0.