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Old 09-19-2014, 07:36 AM   #1
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Buying a Wok

I have been mulling over buying a wok. so I have some questions of the group. Looks like there are four basic metals. Stainless Steel, non stick, cast iron and Carbon steel.
1. Which one do you recommend?
2. Do you use it for more than the occassion fried rice?
3. Is the 14" the standard?

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Old 09-19-2014, 08:13 AM   #2
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It depends on how authentic you want to get I have an electric non-stick wok that I received as a wedding present 30 years ago. It works fine for what I primarily use it for, which is stir-fries, although lately I find it's just easier to use my 3-quart SS saute pan. We had a similar thread on this not too long ago: Which cookware to buy for stir frying?
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Old 09-19-2014, 08:16 AM   #3
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I have several woks. I prefer carbon steel. One thing you should look for is that the steel at the bottom should be significantly thicker than the sides.
I use my wok for many things beyond fried rice. It can be used as a deep fry pan, for example.
As for a standard size, woks can be small (14" is good for a family of 4) or large (up to about 2 -2.5 ft) as you can see in Chinese restaurants.
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Old 09-19-2014, 08:53 AM   #4
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Hoot - does your Carbon Steel season up like Cast iron?
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Old 09-19-2014, 09:02 AM   #5
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I've purchased several woks over the years. Seems like they got used until the new was worn off and then got put or given away. We don't do lots of Asian cuisine at our house and that probably has more to do with it than any particular dislike.

A chef's pan works just fine when I get that occasional craving for fried rice.

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Old 09-19-2014, 10:30 AM   #6
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I use a 14" carbon steel wok. Yes, you season it like a CI pan.

Browse here: Woks
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Old 09-19-2014, 11:03 AM   #7
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Another consideration is the type of stove. I have a ceramic cooktop myself and have found that the design just doesn't work well with a traditional wok. A few years back, I picked up a Le Creuset "Karahi" pan in London. I absolutely love it for stir frying. The bottom is flat, so it makes good contact with the burner. But it also has sloped sides like a wok, so that as you finish browning things on the bottom you can push them up onto the sides where the pan is a little cooler. Since it's made of cast iron, it gets very hot and holds the heat well.

One thing to note. With this particular pan, they recommend it be washed without soap, dried over high heat on the stove, and then seasoned with a couple of drops of oil before storing.

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Old 09-19-2014, 11:34 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoot View Post
I have several woks. I prefer carbon steel. One thing you should look for is that the steel at the bottom should be significantly thicker than the sides.
I use my wok for many things beyond fried rice. It can be used as a deep fry pan, for example.
As for a standard size, woks can be small (14" is good for a family of 4) or large (up to about 2 -2.5 ft) as you can see in Chinese restaurants.
I'm with Hoot on this.

I use mine for lots of things and prefer carbon steel. Lets face it, it's the wok of choice for Chinese cooks and one billion Chinese can't be wrong I find that things burn to easily in stainless steel. Non-stick is not a good idea as you need to heat the empty, dry wok to a high temp before adding the oil for stir frying and with non-stick you can't do this. Le Creuset style cast iron woks are far to heavy to be manageable.

Another thing about carbon steel woks - they are inexpensive so it's not a major disaster if you ruin it. Having said that, I've had mine for over 15 years and however I try to destroy it it comes up smiling. When I was in the middle of moving house a couple of winters back it got abandoned in the garage and developed a fine dusting of rust but I scrubbed it and re-seasoned it and it was as good as new. Hint - With a carbon steel wok it's a good idea to line it with a sheet of foil if you are going to steam over water in order to protect the steel from rusting.

Whichever you go for, I'd choose one with a sticky out handle like this

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Swift-Spice-...eywords=wok%27

rather than one with two grab handles. The type pictured are easier to shake about without burning yourself. 14" is a good size even for one person - "What holds a lot holds a little" and you have more room to manoeuvre in the 14" wok than the smaller ones.

This is useful info about seasoning:-

How to Care for Your Carbon-Steel Wok - FineCooking.com
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Old 09-19-2014, 12:08 PM   #9
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Carbon Steel

Woks need to be screaming hot so non-stick probably isn't the best choice

I use it to make all kinds of Asian dishes
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Old 09-19-2014, 12:30 PM   #10
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I also have a carbon steel wok, but it has a flat bottom.
With electric stove tops, a flat bottom is paramount IMO.

Its been in my basement for years.
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