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Old 07-12-2008, 01:23 AM   #1
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Have I bought a Stainless Steel Wok?

I'm just starting to learn to cook chinese food so please forgive me
if my questions seems ignorant.

I just bought a new wok from my local Chinese supermarket. I knew I
should buy a carbon steel wok but I assumed that they would all be
there since they supply local Chinese restaurants etc. They all looked
the same to me and I couldn't even identify the difference in quality
between them so I just chose the most expensive one.

Anyway, when I came to season my wok something did not appear right.
The wok did not turn blueish black when heating the oil with a paper
towels and wooden tongs. It just started go dark brown slowly but not
uniformly eventually turning black in parts. When it came to using the
wok for the first time I was very disappointed with the results. Food
seemed to burn easily and stick to the bottom.

I have cleaned the wok with a scouring pad and removed all the black
patches. I believe I have in fact purchased a stainless steel wok and
not a carbon steel one. When I look at photos of carbon steel woks
they look more darkish grey than bright stainless steel. I have taken
some photos of the wok I purchased. It isn't all shiny as it was when
I purchased. There are some markings in Chinese - I would be interesed
in what they say.

Can anyone please confirm that I have in fact purchased a stainless
steel wok? I paid 22 for mine so its not the end of the world and I
am more interested in learning from my mistakes.

I am looking at purchasing a new one. You will have to Google the terms
in bold because I cannot post links being a new member of this forum.
It is the first link in the search results in each case.

One on Amazon which is 2.0mm carbon steel but it has a flat base:

Amazon.co.uk: Heavy Gauge Carbon Steel Wok 34cm (14"): Kitchen & Home

There is a round bottomed made by Hancock - 14" ROUND BOTTOM WOK - RBW14

Hancocks Woks Ltd - UK's largest supplier of Woks, Chinese and Oriental Cookware.

Is there any difference between round and flat bottomed ones. Please
help me chose - these are the only two that I can find suitable.

Many thanks for your help!

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Old 07-12-2008, 01:43 AM   #2
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Hi DV! I'm not an expert but it looks to me like you do have a stainless steel wok. I have one, too, and yours looks like mine does after cooking with it.

I actually like mine OK - it seems to work well. It took me a while to learn how to keep things moving quickly and how soon to get things out to avoid burning but now it's fine and I don't burn things in it. But I also learned (after I bought mine) that the carbon steel woks are less expensive and preferred. I'm sure some others will weigh in soon who have experience with carbon steel ones.

Mine is a round bottomed wok, which sits nicely on the grates of my gas stove. But from the discussions here about this, it seem to be a matter of personal preference when it comes to flat vs round bottoms so I'd get whatever fits on your burners best.

And by the way, welcome to Discuss Cooking!
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Old 07-12-2008, 02:00 AM   #3
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Thanks for the reply and welcome - really glad I found this place. I was driving myself mad wondering why my wok wasn't seasoning like they did in the videos I watched and read about on the web.

I'm going to get a carbon steel wok as well I just can't decide between those two. An eBay seller who's selling the Hancock ones says they are only 1mm thick but the one on Amazon is 2mm thick.

I'm hoping someone else can comment.

Many thanks!
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Old 07-12-2008, 06:03 AM   #4
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I've investigated further! The wok I bought is definitely aluminium.

I checked it with a magnet this morning. It all makes sense now - the
only thing printed on the minimal packaging was 'Superlight'. It also
explains why it was twice of the price of the other woks the same
size.


I think I'll get the Hancock London Wok. My only concern was that its
only 1 mm gauge. Will this make any difference and lower than the
norm? The flat bottomed one on Amazon is 2 mm.
Many thanks for your help!
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Old 07-12-2008, 08:51 AM   #5
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Getting the most expensive one was part of your problem. Carbon steel woks are very inexpensive. Cost does not equal quality. Do any of the employees at your Chinese market speak English? I would recommend asking them for a Carbon Steel wok and see what they show you.
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Old 07-12-2008, 09:02 AM   #6
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Yeah sure I can see that now. Yes they all speak English but I won't have time to go back soon so I'll just order one online. Is 1 mm gauge okay for a carbon steel wok?
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Old 07-12-2008, 01:35 PM   #7
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Oh, aluminum! Well, hang onto it because it's a great pan to take camping because of it's light weight and you can do a lot more things besides stir fry in it. Let us know how you like the carbon steel one, too, when you get it.
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Old 07-12-2008, 05:59 PM   #8
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From what I remember about a good cooking wok is that the bottom should be thicker metal than the sides. Wok cooking is very different than any other type so it will take some time getting used to it and some wasted food im sure. I know when I start getting into cooking ethnic foods I am not used to I find a specialty store to buy the food (usually a small private owned one) and ask the clerk or manager to explain the differences and what is an easy start. That gives me ideas on what foods to buy and try also. I have taked to various ones and they are quick to help because their business depends on your returning there.
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Old 07-13-2008, 01:02 AM   #9
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Yes, DV - you bought a stainless steel (SS) "wok" - easily discernible from the photos (even highly polished aluminum doesn't match the shine of SS). Like GB said - carbon-steel woks are the cheapest - I can buy an 18-inch at my local asian market for about $15-$20 US.

Sorry - the magnet test doesn't mean anything either ... SS comes in both magnetic and non-magnetic compositions.

Carbon-steel woks will range from dark steel gray - to blue-black.

As for round bottom or flat bottom ... unless you can get a dedicated concave wok element for your cooktop - you're just as well off with a flat-bottom wok.
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Old 07-13-2008, 08:34 AM   #10
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Sure looks like SS to me. A high chromium and low nickel content would make it non-magnetic. Many of the round bottomed woks come with a burner ring base. We've had one bought 25+ years ago that looks like it was made from the end of a 50 gallon drum. I do not believe aluminum could withstand the intense heat that woks are often subjected to.
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