APA Collections Update from Noriko Sanefuji:
What essential cooking utensil comes to mind when you think of Chinese cooking? Probably, the wok. The basic design of the wok has not changed in centuries. The wok’s rounded form is optimal for cooking with a small amount of fuel, higher heat at the base, and varied temperatures along the curve. It is a necessity in regions where fuel is scarce and food must be cooked quickly. For faster cooking and heat distribution, ingredients in the wok are usually chopped into small, thin slices. The wok is also the ultimate tool of kitchen convenience, as it can be used to boil, sautee, stir-fry, deep-fry and steam. It remains the main cooking appliance in Chinese restaurants today, and can also be found in many American homes.
This wok dates back to the 1880′s and was used by Chinese immigrants in California. These immigrants who came to work in the gold mines and railroads, brought this type of wok to America and continued to cook Chinese food in their new land.
Chinese immigrants brought not only the wok but also cooking utensils such as spatula and ladles, which are commonly used with a wok. The long handles safeguard the cook from the high heat. A skimmer removes surface items from the wok, the ladle adds or removes ingredients, while the spatula is an all-purpose tool.
Young, Grace. The Breath of a Wok: Unlocking the Spirit of Chinese Wok Cooking Through Recipes and Lore. Simon & Schuster. 2004