In restaurants and even some homes in China, super-charged wok burners designed to deliver searing heat to their namesake rounded pans are commonplace. The extreme heat renders raw vegetables tender on the inside and crisp on the outside. American home cooks aren’t so lucky, limited to at skillets and steady heat. So we needed a skillet-friendly method to cook broccoli and crisp it, too. Our answer was an unorthodox pairing: oil and water.
Rather than steam and then fry, we combined the steps. Broccoli, salted water and oil went into a skillet together. The lid went on and the water reached a simmer, making the broccoli tender.
Then the lid came off. As the water cooked off, the hot oil took over—just listen for the sizzle. In another 10 minutes, the broccoli was browned, crisp and primed for flavoring.