A beginner’s guide to choosing the best wok to transform your stir-fry
If you enjoy Asian cuisine, you’ve probably wondered, “What’s the best wok to buy?” Investing in the right wok can improve your cooking experience and make it more enjoyable and efficient. What exactly is a wok? A wok is a deep, round-bottomed cooking vessel with Chinese heritage. Stir-frying, steaming, pan-frying, frying, poaching, boiling, braising, searing, stewing, creating soup, smoking and roasting nuts are all techniques used in the Chinese cuisine. Many would say it is the most crucial tool in a Chinese kitchen.
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Types of woks
1. Carbon steel:
Traditional carbon steel woks are strong and lightweight. They provide excellent heat conduction, allowing food to sear quickly, which is crucial for stir-fries.
The carbon steel wok is unquestionably the most popular. Many seasoned Asian chefs would never consider using anything else.
Since carbon steel is an inexpensive material that conducts heat extremely well, it is much easier to achieve optimal temperature management than with other materials. Carbon deposits on the surface of carbon steel woks produce their own non-stick coating. This is called “seasoning”. This not only changes the flavor of the meal, but also makes the wok much easier to clean.
2. Stainless steel:
Stainless steel woks are ideal for cooking acidic, vinegar-based or tomato-based dishes as they are non-reactive. However, they transmit heat quite quickly. They also have the advantage of being lightweight, which is useful for both cooking and transporting food.
3. Non-stick wok:
Nonstick woks, like any nonstick skillet, are meant to make cooking easier with less oil. Although seasoned carbon steel woks offer non-stick properties, not everyone wants to go through this procedure. Some people prefer the wok to be ready to use right away, in which case choosing non-stick is a preferable alternative.
To survive the higher temperatures required for stir-frying, non-stick coatings have evolved over time. They don’t grab food as well as carbon steel, but they do a good job and are much easier to clean and maintain.
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Seasoning a Wok?
To cook, the woks must be “seasoned” by covering them with a thin layer of oil. Professional chefs will season the wok before each use, but at home you might be able to get by with just seasoning every two or three dinners.
To season a new wok, wash it thoroughly before fully heating it. Once cool, rinse again before applying a very thin layer of oil to the pan with an oil-dampened cloth (or paper towel) over medium heat.
After choosing the material for your wok, there are a few more things to consider, like the size you want. Woks are available in several sizes. your decision will most likely be influenced by a number of criteria such as your personal taste, the type of cooking burner you have, the depth of the wok and the number of people you wish to cook for.
About the Author: Mr. Baldawa is the CEO of thinKitchen, India’s omnichannel retailer of global premium kitchen and homeware brands.