A wok is a round-bottomed cooking pot used for healthy and tasty cooking. While it originated in China, a wok can cook a variety of recipes using techniques like stir-frying, braising, deep-frying, smoking, stewing, poaching, boiling, searing, pan-frying, making soup as well as roasting nuts. A wok can hold several ingredients, like meat, vegetables, and grains. It will eliminate the need to cook with a number of pans and pots. If you are considering adding a wok to your kitchen cookware, we can show you all about the ins and outs of buying a wok.
You will find woks in different materials, ranging from aluminium to copper and stainless steel. But there is no substitute for a good carbon steel wok. It heats up quickly and distributes heat evenly. You can easily adjust its temperature. Also, it is far more durable than other non-stick coatings such as Teflon. Carbon steel naturally becomes non-stick with use over time. And one of the biggest benefits of non-stick cookware is that it significantly decreases the need for butter and unhealthy oils that are used to keep the food from sticking.
However, a carbon steel wok has to be seasoned before use. It’s a simple process that removes the preservative oil placed by the manufacturer to prevent rust. The best part of buying a carbon steel wok is that it is not only the best choice for healthier cooking methods, but also far more affordable as compared to woks in other materials.
Woks come in different sizes so it’s easy to get confused while trying to get the most suitable one for your kitchen. The very large woks are usually used by restaurants and community kitchens to cook rice or soup and boil water. But the stoves in a home kitchen are usually small in size. Therefore, choose a size that fits well on your stove and also meets your quantity requirements. For example, if you are cooking a meal for a family of four, a wok with a diameter of 12-14 inches would be suitable. This is the most common size in woks as it can be used to cook for an entire family or just a couple of people. However, if need be, you can easily find smaller woks of 8 inches and big ones with a 36-inch diameter in the market.
The shape of the wok is its most distinguishing feature. If the wok is too deep, heat retention and side heat transfer will be inadequate for cooking. On the other hand, a very shallow wok will make it hard to quickly move foods as you do in stir-frying technique. The perfect wok would have a round bottom. With hand-hammered models, the wok’s bottom is usually pushed inside out after shaping in order to offer an edge flare. This makes it easier to push the food towards the sides. A chinese style (round-bottomed) wok will not come in full contact with the heat source of most western stoves, making it impossible for the upper metal of the wok to heat up well enough. If that is the case, you could use a round spatula or the traditional ladle to pick up food from the bottom and toss it around.
Woks usually have two styles of handles. Either there are two loop handles placed on both sides, or one stick-style long handle on a side. The former are used for larger woks which cannot be lifted with a single handle. The single long handle is usually enough for a smaller wok.
Apart from the style, you should also be careful about the material of the handles. They should have a cool-to-touch surface so that you can maneuver the wok easily and safely. The best option in this regard would be a heat-resistant wood handle. There are some woks that include a stainless steel handle. You could also go for these as they are sturdy and remain cool for quite a long time.
Some woks are sold individually while others come in a set which includes a tray, a wok ring, a ladle, a lid, a thin metal spatula, a steamer, and other things. So before making a decision, you should know as to how you’ll use the wok and whether or not you’ll need the accessories.
An important wok accessory is the wok ring. It works as a stand, keeping the wok’s bottom father away from the heat source. It is also useful in keeping your round-bottomed cookware in place over a flat surface. Mostly these rings are used with gas stoves, but you could use them with electric stoves as well. Choose a thick metal wok ring with open sides for a gas stove. If you use an electric stove, go for an enclosed metal ring with small holes to allow venting.
Because woks have several advantages in terms of health, taste, time and cost, its popularity and demand are growing. We’ve shown you the various features to look for when shopping for a new wok. Now that you know more about the versatility of a wok, we are sure you are even more interested in getting one for your kitchen.