Wok guide

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What is wok?

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Shape:

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Size:

Handles:

There are two types of handles, loop handle and stick handle. Look handles are more common and is made of bare metal. Some loop sided handle have a wooden or plastic cover to that is cool to touch during the cooking. Bare metal loop handles can be used with thick kitchen towel around it. Loop handles are usually on both sides, one short and one long handle for firmer grip. Stick handles are made of steel and usually welded or riveted on the wok base. Stick handles might be covered with wood or plastic cover.

Material:

Wok can come in a few type of material including stainless steel but most common and popular material for wok is carbon steel and cast iron. Carbon steel is inexpensive, light in weight, durable and good heat conductor. However carbon steel wok requires seasoning process and hand washing. There are great hand hammered and multi ply carbon steel wok that are great to use.

Cast iron woks are better at heat retaining and unified distribution of heat but there are some disadvantages, Chinese cast iron are thin and fragile enough to break or bent if dropped and bare cast iron are slow to heat and very heavy to flip and stir in it with hand.

What can you cook in a wok?

Most people can think stir fry when it comes to wok however, one can cook pretty much anything in a wok, it is really a versatile piece of cookware that you can own; Here are a few things you can cook in a wok;

  • Boiling: Boil water, Make rice, or soup
  • Braising: Reducing sauces
  • Deep frying: Frying donuts, fritter, french fries, onion rings etc
  • Steaming:  can be done by boiling water in a wok and using steaming baskets over it
  • Smoking: Not that of smoking!, smoking food in rack around the rim of wok.
  • Stew: Making stew

Types of wok:

There are two type of wok, traditional and electric wok.

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Traditional woks are designed round and curved bottom to be used over a pit style stove, where heat if fully directed at wok bottom. Sometime traditional wok can be used on electric stove top (for example, flat top stove) by using a “wok ring” at the bottom, which can provide stability and heat concentration.

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Electric Woks can be round or flat bottom and generally are not well suited for stir frying or other quick cooking method. As most electric wok do not produce enough heat needed for the stir frying, it turns stir frying in to a stew. Electric woks are well suited generally for slow cooking method such as stewing, braising, boiling and steaming.  There are a few electric wok that claims to produce plenty heat for stir frying, we can not recommend it until we have tried and used it ourselves.

The best electric wok that heats up nicely and does very well is Breville EW30XL Electric Gourmet Wok. Many people are raving about it and ease of cleaning and using to stir fry and do more.

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Our recommendation:

We prefer carbon steel traditional wok with “wok ring” to use it on our flat stove top. We think 16 inches diameter size should be good enough for 4 people, however you may buy smaller or bigger size depending on your size of family and type of food you will be cooking.  Buy a wok with lid and extra accessory as needed.

1. Breville EW30XL Electric Gourmet Wok
2. Lodge Pro-Logic 14-Inch Cast-Iron Wok with Loop Handles

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