In the ancient days, the wok was a must-have kitchen tool in any Asian kitchen. This is especially because most of the Asian cooking method entails high heat cooking. This tool in a Chinese kitchen makes the operations run smoothly.
For most non-Asians cooking using a wok may not be easy. They may like the food but not understand how to use it best or if they do then they will not see the need to buy it if they will use it for a single meal or two.
Until recently, all I knew was that I needed to use the wok every now and then.
But did you know that the stir-fry pan is equally effective and even better to some people than others?
What is A Wok and What is it Used For?
All I can say is that this equipment is one of the simplest designs for anyone to use in cooking all the different kinds of foods. The tool is a versatile round-bottomed kitchen tool that is used in the high heat cooking of Asian meals.
What is it made of?
Unlike the olden days, today, it comes in various metal constructions as you will see below.
Made of carbon steel
These are by far the most exclusive makes you will ever have in any kitchen. They are inexpensive yet often lighter than when you use cast iron material. You should season it frequently to create a non-stick surface.
It combines both even heating and durability which is a great blend for most chefs and cooks. It then gives you a balance between the price and quality of food you have. They are further magnetic which makes it ideal to use with your induction surfaces.
Always ensure you season it perfectly to enhance its lifespan. You can use the vegetable oil to lightly season it. This will avoid rusting.
Stainless Steel Woks
They are heavier than carbon steel ones and they will take a longer time to heat up. But they are never the best, since if they do not have the aluminum plate, they don’t work with induction range. Also, they tend to be sticky unless you properly season.
A major advantage of this wok is that they are non-reactive which makes them ideal for use with the acidic foods. Moreover, they are light in weight and they don’t rust easily. You further don’t have to season it when you are looking to maintaining it.
They are great although they are normally heavier. This makes it only ideal for use at home but not for bulk cooking in large establishments. This is an ancient design of wok and they were the ones used in the Chinese kitchen in the past.
While the item is often heavy, it needs extra care to sustain it. You need to season it immediately after buying it. You should further just clean it with mild soap. While most of the cast iron items are heavy, today, they can make the lighter one’s for you.
They contain some stainless steel which makes it easy and quick to cook with. This one conducts heat fast for quick cookery. They are just ideal to use for showmanship.
What it does
Notice that you can have any size of wok you desire and aside from stir-frying you can use the wok for cooking different meals.
Steaming in a wok
The wok comes in a concave shape which makes it a perfect tool to use for steaming. It only has a single disadvantage though, since it’s made using the metal, it will drip the collected moisture back to your food which then alters the food flavor.
You can smoke
This is by far one of the best utensils that you would use for smoking. Since it’s wide and deep, the smoke will circulate around the food with ease making everything easy.
Deep frying in a wok
It will use just a little oil compared to other pans since the wok has a large room and space for cooking. The secret is to make sure you cook in a few batches.
Of course, this is the role of the wok. Therefore, it will radiate enough heat at the bottom and sides of the wok which will then cook the food evenly and quickly while using just a little amount of oil.
Why Use a Wok?
Obviously, the main reason as to why it’s popular today is because it was being used in the Chinese kitchen for all the high heat cooking.
It cooks fast
There’s no way you will be wok cooking and then be slow in the kitchen. The cooking method requires that you do everything rapidly. Often times the food is cooked fast.
You will cook fried foods faster than when you are using the regular pans. Mind you, they use the sauces and oils.
It tastes better
The wok enhances the flavors. They will provide you with better taste since you spread all the flavors evenly when cooking. There’s minimal chance of overcooking your food because everything is normally cooked fast.
They don’t cost you much
Take a look at the online shops and discover that the wok is cheap. It’s true to say that you can have it for each budget you want.
You can use the wok to cook different meals
Aside from the high heat cooking where you stir-fry the food, you can cook your food by steaming, smoking and even deep frying. Although the best method to use it is in stir-frying it will work even better for these other methods.
Why Should You Use the Wok Instead of The Pan?
If you are familiar with many aspects of the kitchen then you will know that the wok becomes hotter than the regular pan and that why this the most preferred for cooking.
Whenever you are looking to stir fry your food, while you may use the frying pans, it’s not as good as the wok is. You will, in fact, use lesser oil than you usually do with the pan.
It further has high sides that make sure the food doesn’t fall off as you are trying to turn it. The secret to wok cooking is to make sure you have all the ingredients ready before you begin to cook. It requires you to have an attentive stirring.
It’s versatile too because you will not only use it for stir-frying but for other uses. It’s efficient for use and yet effective.
Using the Wok
Wok range: it’s best to have your own wok range that caters for the round-bottomed wok. Having a wok range will make it easy to distribute the heat evenly. You see if you use the round-bottomed wok on a flat burner you will have parts of food not heated properly.
Alternatively, use the wok ring that is lightweight and will sit overtop a traditional gas. This works almost the same way as the wok range.
Begin by seasoning
Just like the other cast-iron material, begin by seasoning the pan before you start using it. It’s often hard to resist the fat and other ingredients from seeping into the metal and taking on the flavors. But when you constantly season it you will prevent it from rust.
Heat the wok
The secret to stir-frying your food is to cook it under constant high heat. When at home, place the wok on the medium-high heat without anything in for it to preheat it.
This will bring the wok to the highest temperature thereby making it sear quick. So, remember to leave the wok on the heat for a long time that if you put a drop of water in, it will evaporate instantly.
Now add the oil
Once your wok is hot, you can add the cold oil but ensure you use the oils with a high smoking point. Ensure it’s so high that you won’t see the oil smoke at any given point. Consider using the peanut oil which smokes at 410˚F.
Now at this juncture, you should know that the secret to a great Asian meal is in working quickly.
Do you like tumbling?
In this wok cooking, you should tumble the food. Tumbling is the art of flipping the food that makes me enjoy cooking my food especially on display.
Use dry ingredients
Remember for wok cooking, you should not use any form of damp ingredients. Except you can use the marinated meats on your food. It will take you only 5 minutes to marinate the food you are stir-frying.
- Never overcrowd your ingredients
The secret to quick-cooking with this gadget is in cooking small batches of food. A good example is that you can cook 12 pounds of meat on a 12 inches wok.
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This is one of the few pans you may use when you don’t have a wok or don’t know how to work the wok. It’s metal safe and you won’t have it being affected by the metals. It features the premium quality non-stick item to reduce the problem of surface abrasion.
With this design, it’s better to use a hard-anodized frying pan than even your regular stainless steel wok as it doesn’t stick. It will further not stain nor chip off easily. This premium quality item is further easy to clean and cook with.
This item is durable since it’s made twice as hard as the stainless steel. This has made it able to distribute the heat evenly. It’s even oven-safe as long as you maintain the temperature at 400˚. Moving the skillet is easy since the handle is dual riveted and rubberized for a firm grip.
It remains safe and elegant in design. With its 3 layers non-stick coating, you can stir fry your food. And it reduces the need for added oils as it went ever stick.
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This pan gives you the 5-layered non-stick surface that makes it even more durable to use. It further has the steel base which will distribute the heat evenly. You can further use this item on any cooktop.
It works both as a stir-frying pan and as a wok. It contains no toxins that come in the form of PFOA, lead or cadmium. This is one of the high-quality items that will stand high heat cooking. You should confirm that it has the Teflon print before you buy it.
It has a 3.5 mm thick bottom that makes it easy to spread your high heat evenly. You can rest assured that the food won’t stick on the surface. It further has a strong and firm hand to make it easy to tumble the food in the pan.
Remember, you don’t have to think about anything since this pan delivers the best service in comparison to other 3 layered non-stick pans. The aluminum gauge makes it easy to conduct heat.
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This features the hard-anodized cookware and they are mostly as hard as the stainless steel. It can stand the oven temperature of 400˚F which makes it even dishwasher safe.
It also has the espresso colored non-stick surface that makes it easy to tumble the food as well as release it. The handle is dual riveted with the silicon covering your stainless steel handle. This handle remains cool and warm to touch as the food is cooking.
It works with most stovetops except the induction cooktop. You will further monitor the food as it’s cooking through the glass tempered lid. So, the lid will help to make sure you don’t have uneven cooking.
The rustic pan comes to make an addition to your great kitchen. Now, remember it will work as your service ware as well as the cookware. The stainless steel rim on the lid keeps the lid safe from cracking.
It even takes an almost wok shape since it is deep and wide.
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You have probably heard about the Cuisinart brand a number of times when buying kitchenware. They are known to make durable and well-renowned products. This item specifically has the quantum coating that is made using the reinforced titanium.
It keeps your pan free from scratching and abrasion as well as corrosion. This product further makes it easy to release the food quickly. You can use it for both quick and slow fat cooking. It further works best for high heat cooking.
Since it has the high sides you can use it to cook the same foods you would normally cook in the wok. The handles remain cool as you are cooking. With its shape, you can tumble the food with ease which allows you to stir fry the food.
I like that it further comes with a glass lid to lock in the flavors but also makes sure the food cooks evenly. The pan has a smooth finish for easy cooking. It further gives you a lifetime warranty. Your pan then remains nonporous.
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This is the ideal cookware that you will use for multiple uses. You can stir-fry, bake, steam, boil among other uses. So, this is a great choice for those of you who aren’t sure they need to buy the item because they don’t know what else to use it for if not stir-frying.
Also, use it for deep frying, stir frying, deep skillet cooking and my personal favorite to sauté. The non-stick copper wok will help it release the food with ease. Made of ceramic and titanium, the pan gives you the ultra-non-stick features.
It’s further durable and with a great working performance. The food slides into the plate with ease. It’s even oven-safe and dishwasher safe. Typical of any wok the item will heat up quickly and evenly. It further has a stainless steel handle.
You can rest assured that the item is toxic-resistant. This makes it ideal for you if you are concerned about healthy cooking. You can use it on all cooktops which include the induction gas, glass electric among others.
Cleaning the item is a breeze.
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This is ideal for use in the oven or tabletop. The item is seasoned perfectly and it makes it easy to release the food. Since it’s made using the cast iron, it will release your food with ease. The oil that is used for seasoning helps to keep the item from rust.
The wok has a sturdy base to keep the wok steady for use when you are using it on the stovetops. It’s pre-seasoned and you can use it immediately. Whether you have the gas, electricity or induction surfaces, you may use this item for all kinds of stovetops.
The wok then has a large loop handle that makes it easy to carry the food from one station to another. You shouldn’t use this item in the dishwasher. Since it has these wide handles it makes it easy to manipulate and move around.
The cast iron item will maintain even heating through the cooking process. It will give you a balance between innovation and the traditional wok style. With the 14-inch wok, you can cook even the large-sized food.
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This is a heavy piece of wok especially because it’s made using the 100% cast iron material. It always retains heat better than does any other wok you can think of. It has the flattened bottom which makes it ideal for over the different cooking tops.
You should only use the vegetable oil to season your wok and use it frequently to better the seasoning. You can use it for over the campfire, the grill use and oven use too.
The design gives you an easy release function. Also, it’s versatile and durable. When taking care of it, you should remember to only hand wash it and then use only the mild soap. Use the lint-free soap for the drying process.
Rub it with the vegetable oil when the pan is still hot to create a great seasoning. Remember to hang or store this cookware in your safe and dry place.
Difference between Stir Frying Pan and Wok
The wok is particularly designed to high heat cook. Although they were traditionally made round bottomed, today, you can have the flat-bottomed ones. Traditional woks are further generally made using cast iron and carbon steel.
These items are generally high conductors of heat and they retain the heat within the wok. You will have the best types being hammered with a number of layers of carbon steel. You can also have the hard-anodized aluminum for effectivity.
On the downside, woks made using iron and carbon steel tend to corrode easily which then makes it essential to season and maintain.
Stir-frying pan is basically the modern and western style of wok. It was designed to suit the modern western kitchen. It can work with the induction surfaces electric and gas stoves among other stovetops.
On the downside, they may not attain the highest heat that the traditional wok attains. Nevertheless, they still work and can cook most foodstuffs just the same way as the wok does. These stir-fry pans are often made using the carbon steel.
You can also find them being made using the aluminum and they are great conductors of heat and light but they chemically react. They will react with acids and bases.
The major difference between the two is in the time it takes to cook. For the wok, you expect it to cook in not more than 8 minutes. Remember the food here is cooked over high heat.
Additionally, when you are stir-frying using the frying pan, you will need everything you are cooking to be in contact with the bottom part. This will then help to cook the food evenly.
On the other hand, the wok will cook the food if you remember to flip it and turn it. The wok cooking is ideal whenever you decide to cook in oil. The oil will rest in the bottom of the pan then you can place veggies and meats on the hot pan.
But what makes it healthier is the fact that you almost immediately remove it once you have placed it in the wok. This is something that doesn’t happen when you are using the pan to stir-fry.
While you may work with both the frying pan and the wok, the frying pan is ideal for use when you are just starting out. The wok, on the other hand, will serve you best if you are familiar with the cooking method.
Wok Vs Cast Iron Skillet
Woks are often made using the carbon steel but that doesn’t mean that you won’t find a wok that is made using the cast iron. Nevertheless, below are the differences between them:
The wok conducts heat pretty fast because it’s often light in weight but the cast iron skillet is heavy so it will take some time to heat up. This is the one feature that compromises the stir frying in the cast iron skillet.
Stir-frying is a quick-cooking method. This means that your food will cook faster and if your pan is to take long in cooking, it beats the logic of stir-frying.
The skillet will keep your food warm over a long time. The wok, on the other hand, unless it’s made using the material like cast iron cools your food fast.
The wok has been in use in the Asian kitchen for a long time.
The shape of the wok makes it easy for it to perform well when you are using high BTU cooking ranges. The flame and heat work at the bottom and high sides as well.
You will have the cast iron skillets working best with your flat cooking surfaces and particularly the low BTU cooking ranges.
You should only use the wok if you have the high gas ranges with high BTU. Thus, if you are using a simple home stove, consider the use of the skillet as it works best under reasonably low heat.
Similarly, you shouldn’t use the cast iron skillet on a high BTU cooking range because for one the heat always ends up burning your seasoning.
The Difference Between a Wok and Skillet
They differ in structure since the skillet is a little shallow while the wok is deep. The skillet is normally flat bottomed with a thick metal that makes it distribute the heat evenly. But for it to cook perfectly you should have everything you are cooking lying on the bottom part.
Wok, on the contrary, the bottom is thin and it has a thin bottom and high sides. It gives you the high heat at the bottom but it also heats the sides which makes for rapid and even cooking.
They can work in place of one another but for the wok cooking the food may not come out 100% similar to the wok meals.
You can further have the wok being flat nowadays although the major difference to the skillet is that it has high sides and it’s normally deeper.
The wok is best used for stir-frying and it is often larger with the mission to prevent your food from spilling over. The skillet is best used for shallow cooking and particularly sautéing.
Electric Wok Vs Stove Top Woks
Asian cooking calls for the high heat wok cooking and the only thing you have in mind when you think of traditional cooking is the use of the traditional stove-top cooking.
- The electric wok
It doesn’t need the seasoning that you are expected to do with the stovetop woks.
Here, you won’t even think of the advantages of using a flat-bottomed wok over the round-bottomed ones. They deliver electricity equally whether you have let it stand alone or you have the ring to use on your cookers.
Cleaning is easier than when you have to use traditional wok. You may use dishwashing soap without fearing that it will clear the seasoning.
- Traditional wok
This one has the highest capacity of heat absorption that no other wok does. It cooks your food as quick as it’s required to. The item is made using either stainless steel, carbon steel, aluminum or cast iron.
The bottom part is the hot spot of the wok but even the sides keep the food cooking.
The woks are normally large enough to allow for quick flipping of the food.
The Sauté Pan Vs Wok
It’s easy to confuse the two but if you have been using either then you won’t be confusing them.
There’s a difference in the shape and size of the sauté pan. It’s often larger than your regular pans or skillets. It further comes with high sides and I think this makes it easy to flip the food.
Wok, on the other hand, has the outer sloping sides. The concave shape makes the bottom part small with a small surface area. It’s meant for high heat cooking.
They are larger than the sauté pans. They can allow the food to be cooked in large amounts. The woks are further deeper than the sauté pans. You can use them for versatile reasons.
You don’t expect spillage with your wok as you do with the sauté pans if you use it to stir fry. The wok can withstand high heat.
The Flat and Round-Bottomed Wok
The round bottom wok is the best since it retains the heat in the wok then begins to transfer the same heat to the sides making it cook even better. The flat bottom one works but it doesn’t retain as much heat as the round-bottomed one.
You can’t even toss the food on the sides of the wok.
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This is your guide to mastering the wok. You will not only learn how to use it but you also have the ideal recipes to cook in the wok. Furthermore, it gives you the tips for choosing the right wok, seasoning and selecting the wok.