Growing up in Jerusalem, Reem Kassis ate a type of flatbread called taboon at most meals. The sticky dough traditionally is cooked stretched over a saj, a domed metal oven heated from beneath. But home versions are increasingly rare, particularly in Philadelphia, where Kassis lives now.
So the author of “The Palestinian Table” (read more about the book here) found a workaround: a wok, which she flips upside down over a medium high stovetop gas burner.
For flatbread, she heavily flours each piece and carefully stretches it over the hot dome of the wok, flipping the bread after it browns and bubbles on the bottom.
We tested the method with store-bought pizza dough and found it worked well. The wok offers more surface area than a skillet, and it’s easier to stretch the dough across it without the pan’s sides getting in the way. Rolled out thin, the dough cooked to a pleasantly charred crispiness in less than a minute per side (use a moist towel to carefully wipe off excess flour or dough between pieces).
Be sure the wok doesn’t have wooden handles or a nonstick coating. And use tongs to flip the dough; the entire wok gets very hot.
We love cooking with woks here at Milk Street—from Thai-Stir-Fried Spinach to Three Cup Chicken—but this usage literally turns how we’re used to cooking upside down.
For more from Kassis, watch this video, where the author sits down with Christopher Kimball to talk about her book.
Or, listen to this interview on Milk Street Radio, where she talks more about “The Palestinian Table,” about what a meal means in Palestinian cuisine, and how she came to embrace cooking after not initially planning to spend her life in the kitchen.
Finally, try this recipe, inspired by a recipe in Kassis’s book, for Tomato-Herb Salad with Sumac, a fresh tomato salad for all seasons.