The first thing that I think of whenever I think about our first cooking method—stirfrying—is a wok.
You may think that woks, which in Chinese directly translates as “Big Spoon,” are /what Alton Brown calls a “unitasker,” but woks can also be used for many other cooking methods—such as deep frying, steaming, and boiling, stewing, and braising.
1.Cast Iron…Cast iron is one of the oldest cookware materials known to man, and the Chinese have been using cast iron woks for centuries.
However, finding a great cast iron wok that you really love is going to be a difficult task. You’re either find one that is way too fragile and that will break very easily…or you’ll find heavier cast iron woks that are actually far too difficult to lift.
Advantages on the other hand, include the fact that food cooks food evenly because the wok retains heat longer. In fact, cast iron woks retain heat so well that food should be removed immediately after cooking to prevent overcooking,
Disadvantages of cast iron woks include the fact that they take a relatively long time to heat up
2. Stainless Steel…Stainless steel woks, such as the Cuisinart Stainless steel wok have several advantages—including their being rust-proof, non-reactive and lightweight. ‘
3. Carbon Steel…Carbon steel woks are most popular and most recommended type of wok around.
Chefs say that these woks allow for faster and better cooking because of their quick heat conduction and even transfer of heat.
Carbon steel woks are relatively inexpensive compared to other woks, lightweight, and durable. Typically these woks cost around $40 to $80.
As far as weight, when shopping for a carbon steel wok, look for what is called a 14-gauge wok. This means that the wok is about two millimeters thick.
4. Non-stick or Teflon-coated woks…Many people may think that they are doing themselves a favor by buying Teflon coated or non-stick woks, but these actually a poor investment.
Even though these woks allow for easy cleanup and do not require seasoning…(more on this later)…Teflon or non-stick woks are not made for high heat. In fact, using these woks at high temperatures will damage the Teflon coating over time.
These woks also are easily scratched and will lose their non-stick properties over time.
5, Aluminum…Aluminum woks are also a poor choice because they do not retain heat very well and are not durable.
Woks are available with either a round bottom or a flat bottom. A round bottom is ideal if you cook on a gas stove, but most of us probably have electric stoves and would be better off choosing a wok with a flat bottom.
That being said, most professional chefs would say to buy a wok with a round bottom because heat is distributed mostly throughout the bottom of the pan and food can burn easier with a flat bottom wok.
While it may be tempting to go our and buy that 6-1/2′ wok that you saw in the last Chinese restaurant you went to, be real.,,you’re creating food for your family, not opening up your own Genghis Grill franchise.
You’re simply looking for the perfect wok for feeding your own family, plus a few uninvited guest perhaps.
Usually the woks that are available range in size from 10″ to 20.”
The size grill that you actually need depends on several criteria—the size of your range, how much you want to cook at one time, the size and power of your burner, what type of food you want to cook, and the type of stove you have, and how many people you are going to be feeding.
Your best wok as far as size would probably be a 14″ wok. Anything larger would be too hard for most of us to maneuver,,,but as the same time your need a wok that is big eniugh ti hold all if your ingredients without overcrowding the pan and making it hard to cook food evenly..
Woks are available with several different types of handles—those with two small handles on each side, those with a long handle on one side and a small handle or loop on the other, those with two loops on each side, and those with long stick on one side and a metal loop on the other.
Since we are choosing a smaller wok, your best bet is a wok with two long stick-style handles.
The long handle makes stirring the ingredients while you are stir-frying much easier.
The short “helper” handle makes lifting wok easier.
Lid…If you can find a wok with a lid, buy it before any other wok that you might be looking at also…especially if the wok has a clear glass lid. The lid will come in handy for simmering, stewing, braising, and super-heating the sides of the wok to create “wok hay”,,,more on that later also..
So now that you know what to look for when shopping for a wok, how about some good online sources, such as…
- Cooks Standard
- Helen Chen’s Asian Kitchen
- Joyce Chen
- Wok Shop