Heat wok before adding oil or any ingredients. It's always best to begin stir frying in a wok that is already hot.
I know I've read this step somewhere before. And I've followed it many times, as well, and have had success making delicious meals of various colorful vegetables and other assorteds in my wok.
Today was Day Two of Christmas celebrating with family, and the plan was to hang at my sister's place and do some woking. An assembly line of vegetable choppers and recipe readers and sauce concocters...we've done this a couple times in the past, and it's a lot of fun.
I offered to bring my wok, as we had a few different recipes to sample. After our ingredients were prepped, I put my wok on the stove and turned on the burner. A couple of minutes later as I added the oil, I ran a plastic spatula lightly over the bottom of the wok...and it left a mark.
I brushed the spatula across the bottom of the wok again, and it left an even bigger mark. I wasn't sure if the spatula was melting or if my wok was disintegrating. As I examined the spatula and determined it was indeed safe for stirring at most temperatures, my wok started to smoke. The oil was getting hotter and the mark across the bottom surface was bubbling and flaking and...my sister's kitchen was filling with smoke, patio screen doors were being opened. It wasn't the prettiest of cooking pictures.
I'm not exactly the best of cooks, I'll freely admit that. There's no Food Network hosting gig in my future.
But I'm no fire hazard, either.
I poured the oil out of the wok into a metal can, and took a paper towel to wipe out the bottom, and the non-stick coating on a section about the size of a half of a dollar bill was wiped away in an instant.
We resorted to using deep fry pans and chicken fryers to finish cooking our dinner, and hopefully the smoke should be cleared out of their kitchen by the time the next major holiday rolls around.
I've just found a use for some of my Christmas cash (no, not cooking lessons, you smart-ass. a new wok!), and if we do this again next Christmas Day, I might suggest that my sister has the local fire department on standby as soon as I enter the city limits.
How To Stir Fry In A Wok (Revised):
Destroy wok on stove. Throw away wok. Look in drawer for local Chinese take-out menu.
"When it comes to Chinese food, I have always
operated under the policy that the less known
about the preparation the better. A wise diner
who is invited to visit the kitchen replies by
saying, as politely as possible, that he has a
pressing engagement elsewhere."