How do I choose a wok?
How do I choose a wok? Choosing a wok might seem like an easy task, but there are many factors to consider before you buy one.
A wok is a versatile cooking vessel that can be used for frying, steaming and boiling. A typical round-bottom wok has three parts: the bowl (or pan), the long handle attached to one side of the bowl.
The curved shape of this type of wok allows it to be moved easily from stovetop to tabletop without spilling food or ingredients.
Here are some questions to consider before you purchase a new wok.
Flat Bottom Wok Vs Round Bottom Wok
The traditional wok has a round bottom, which provides stability as food cooks.
The flat bottom wok was designed for modern stoves. It has a wider base and sloped sides which help spread the flames out more evenly.
Round Bottom or Flat Bottom? What’s the difference between them?
Well, let me break down each style to help you choose which would work best for your needs!
Round Bottom Wok
A round bottom wok is best for the traditional Asian style of cooking and usually sits directly over an open flame
It has a wide base and sloped sides that help to contain heat and it’s much easier to toss your food around compared to a flat-bottom wok, I also find that it cooks food more evenly.
They are typically made from thin material which helps them maintain their shape better so they can be placed directly over high heat sources like gas stoves without bending out of shape.
Depending on the type of stove you have, you might need a wok ring to support your wok on your stove. We will cover wok rings later in this article.
Flat Bottom Wok
A flat bottom wok is a multi-purpose cooking utensil that can be used on all stovetops. It’s excellent for frying, deep-frying, stir-frying and steaming food.
A Flat-bottom wok is best suited for Western cooking, as the flat bottom ensures even heating on any type of stovetop and reduces the risk of scorching food.
The flat bottom wok is wider and shorter than the traditional round-bottom woks.
Handles: What Type Of Handles Do Woks Have?
For those who enjoy cooking at home, there are a variety of woks available for purchase.
There is the traditional two-handled metal one and also flat bottom models made with wooden handles that make it easy to move and tilt when stir-frying ingredients in hot oil.
Most have handles on the opposite side too so lifting them from your stovetop will be achievable without struggling or burning yourself!
Size: What Sizes Do Woks Come In?
Woks are available in different sizes, ranging from 10-inch up to 20-inches. The size you choose depends on your needs and preferences.
The table below will give you a better idea of which size of wok you should consider.
|Number Of People||Wok Size In Inches|
I recommend the 14inch wok, it is great for a small family of up to 6 people.
Non-Stick: Are All Woks Non-Stick?
A wok is not a non-stick pan traditionally, however they are naturally easy to clean because the food never sticks. The metal surface can get scratched and can develop rust spots if it’s not cared for properly.
But modern-day woks have had an upgrade. They are now available with a non-stick coating.
Non-stick coatings offer many benefits such as:
- Easy to clean
- They don’t need to be seasoned
- They don’t rust easily.
- Easier to maintain.
Lid: Do You Need A Lid For A Wok?
Not all woks come with a lid. If you’re hoping to simmer your food, then this is something that you need to consider before purchasing your wok.
If you fall in love with a wok without a lid, not to worry because you can purchase a lid separately.
This said I recommend purchasing a wok that comes with a lid, this way you ensure that the lid fits your wok perfectly.
Material: What Are Woks Made Of?
Traditionally woks are made from cast iron.
The best type of material for woks today is still cast iron, but you can also find them in stainless steel or carbon steel (which may be coated with nonstick).
The price of a wok may vary depending on the material it is made from.
Cast iron woks will be the most expensive because they are heavy and hard to manufacture.
Non-stick woks, on the other hand, may cost more than a regular stainless steel pan due to the material’s durability but are still cheaper than a cast iron wok
What Is A Wok Ring?
A wok ring is a metal ring that is placed on the stove and holds a round-bottom wok securely in place. Whereas a flat bottom wok can be used without a wok ring.
You would place the wok ring on top of a burner, put your round-bottom wok directly on it and turn up the heat. This creates heat that is evenly distributed.
Before you get a wok ring, test your stove to see if it can safely support a round wok without the need for a wok ring.
The price for a wok ring can range from $5 to $30. Better still some woks are sold with a wok ring included.
Wok: Pros & Cons
- Healthier – Woks are healthy because they require less oil than other cooking methods so the food won’t soak up too much oil.
- Versatility – You can cook anything from stir-frys to deep-fried dishes in a wok and even steam food
- Quick – Woks are quick because they’re made for stir-frying so you can cook a meal in minutes
- Less Cleanup – You’ll spend less time cleaning up after cooking because all of the food is cooked in the same pan.
- Affordable – They’re not expensive at all, which is a plus when you want to have the option of cooking healthy meals.
- Bulky for storage
- Woks made from cast iron and carbon steel can rust.
When you are in the market for a wok, you need to look out for the following:
- Round or flat bottom wok
- Handle construction
- Non-stick etc.
Many people choose stainless steel because it is durable and less likely to react with food or rust. The shape can vary depending on what you plan to cook in it- a flat bottom will work better for frying while round bottoms are best for stir-frying and deep-frying.
A long handle is preferable so that you don’t have to reach too far into the hot pan when cooking. Finally, make sure that it’s comfortable for your hands if it doesn’t come with a heat-resistant grip!
Even though a wok is traditionally used to make Asian food, it is multi-functional. I have seen myself cook non-Asian dishes using my wok without any problems.
How do I choose a wok? I hope this article has given you a better idea of how to find the perfect wok for you.
If you have any tips or advice on choosing the perfect wok, please share them in the comments.
Let’s share and learn together!