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Simmering Basics

Discover how to simmer your favorite soups, stews, and meat dishes to perfection.

Bring the soup to a boil and then reduce the heat so that bubbles rise slowly to the surface.

1. Vegetables sometimes are stir-fried and meats sometimes are browned before simmering begins. To avoid a greasy finished product, be sure to drain off all excess fat before adding the simmering liquid.

2. When the liquid is added, you will need to bring the soup or meat mixture to boiling. Then, reduce the heat slightly so the bubbles slowly rise toward the surface, breaking just before they reach the top.

3. Sometimes the wok or skillet will need to be covered to keep all of the liquid and steam inside. Other times, however, the wok or skillet should be uncovered to reduce the mixture's quantity or to thicken the mixture slightly.

4. In some recipes a mixture of flour or cornstarch and liquid is added to the cooking liquid. Make sure you add the flour or cornstarch mixture at the time directed in the recipe. If it's added too soon, the flavorful sauce or gravy will tend to thin after it thickens.

Use a heavy wok for simmering as it allows even heating over a long period of time.
  • Choose a heavy wok or large skillet with a tight-fitting lid. The thick base of a heavy wok or skillet allows even heating over a long period of time.
  • If you are using a steel wok, be sure the wok and the lid are well-seasoned. If the steel is not treated, tomatoes, lemon juice, wine, vinegar, and other acidic ingredients may react with the steel and cause discoloration of the food and the wok. Although the discoloration doesn't affect the taste or safety of the food, it usually looks unappetizing.
  • When a lid is needed, make sure it is tight-fitting so moisture and steam do not escape from the wok or skillet.
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