The Wok Purchasing Guide
While you may not absolutely have to purchase a wok to cook a delectable Chinese meal, this wonderful bowl-shaped utensil holds several key advantages. Woks work best to spread heat evenly, utilize less oil in traditional deep fried dishes, and it works well with a bamboo steamer. A quality wok will make life much easier when it comes to cooking great Chinese cuisine!
Do forget, you truly get what you pay for when it comes to purchasing a wok. While there are several types of woks available on today's market such as copper, stainless steel and aluminum, there is absolutely no substitute for a high quality carbon steel wok. This high end wok conducts heat evenly when cooking which is paramount for stir fry and several other cultural dishes. Plus, they are relatively inexpensive.
Round or Flat Bottom
While flat bottom woks work best for a Western electric range cooker, a round bottom wok is easier to toss with but will need an extra wok ring to stabilize its bottom. Additionally, a flat bottom wok can be utilized on any gas stove.
Traditionally woks were created with two metal handles for easy lifting in and out of a Chinese wood stove. Presently, flat bottom woks usually have one long wooden handle much like a skillet. The handle change was to make tilting the wok more convenient when tossing ingredients. However, most woks do still have a small helping handle opposite of the long wooden handle making lifting relatively simple. Round bottom woks follow the traditional wok style a little more closely with two small metal 'ears' on each side of the bowl's lip.
Size Really Does Matter
Woks come in a wide variety of sizes. Your woks size will depend upon several factors, including what type of stove you own, depth of wok needed, frequency of cooking, and your personal preferences.
A non-stick wok is ideal for those interested in low-fat cooking. However, the level of quality a non-stick pan hones depends upon its specific coating and application process. In general, carbon steel non-stick woks are not ideal while non-stick heavy gauge aluminum woks work best. Calphalon is a great manufacturer for awesome non-stick flat bottom woks.
A wok complete with a lid will not only make your life easier it will cook your food quicker and more thoroughly especially when a lot of ingredients need to simmer at the same time. Needless to say, it is worth the money to purchase a wok with a lid.
A little known fact about woks is that they work best by seasoning the pan prior to its first use. The seasoning will remove the preservatives left by oil manufacturers. It is also paramount to clean your wok well after each and every usage. Due to the large variety of woks available on today's market, it is extremely difficult to give one specific set of cleaning and seasoning instructions.