In Asia we describe taste a little differently. The Japanese have their umami. In other parts of Asia, we have wok hei.
The literal translation of ‘wok hei’ from Cantonese is the ‘breath of wok’. It is that complex charred aroma that fleetingly cloaks the piping hot stir-fries which results from a complex interplay of factors that is part science, part art, and part magic.
According to Michelin guide 2016, “Wok hei can only be achieved under conditions of intense heat, at levels that are difficult to achieve without a commercial cooking range. ”
Wok hei at home
How then, can you re-create this specific set of conditions at home for that delicious flavour profile?
I’ll be real with you – wok hei is notoriously difficult to achieve without a wok. Why? Only a wok can reach, maintain, and retain that degree of heat while cooking (and not burning) your food that you’ve so painstakingly prepared. Of course, design, material, and other specifics play a large role in how well a wok performs the functions you want it to. Check out our guide for choosing a wok here for more insight into this.