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Old 02-12-2021, 03:00 PM   #1
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Woks

I have an Atlas flat bottomed carbon steel wok. After many years of use, it is well seasoned, and virtually non-stick. I have also owned a hand-hammered carbon steel wok with a wok ring. I;ve used a non-stick electric wok, as well as a cast iron wok. All f these are available to most consumers.

My favorite, by far is the flat bottomed wok, with a lid, and a wire cooling rack accessories, I use it for making everything from french omelets, to egg foo young, to fried rice, to stir fries, I deep fry in it, as in fried chicken. tempura, battered fish, etc. I have even made ragu, and chili in it. It is just so versatile. The only downside is that it needs to be seasoned properly before cooking in it.
You also have to season cast iron, and carbon steel (mineral steel) pans as well.

My 2nd choice is the hand hammered carbon steel wok with a wok rin, again with a good lid. On a typical stove top, electric or gas, it won't get as hot as will a flat bottomed wok And only the flat bottomed wok will work on an induction stove.

3rd choice - cast iron wok. It too can be used with induction cookware. This wok works well, but is less able to use with quickly varying temperatures. It does hold its heat best of all the woks, but is less versatile than a carbon steel wok, IMHO.

I simply don't care for electric, or teflon coted pans, especially as a wok, as high temps are needed for many of the cooking techniques.

I like my wok to have a good wooden handle that can be unscrewed from the wok, a tight fitting lid, great for steaming), and a helper handle. When the wooden handle is enoved, the wok can be placed into a hot oven, as when seasoning or with recipes that require oven cooking.

So that's my take on woks, Any advise from anyone who wants to discuss their wok preferences, or favorite brands, and why, is welcomed.

SeeeeyaLChief Longwind of the North

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Old 02-12-2021, 04:17 PM   #2
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I used to have a wok, but never got the kinda results I expected from it… despite having two kitchens (one with a propane cooktop and the other with a ceramic), although neither of which are commercial grade.

So when I do a stir fry type meal, I do the veggies in stainless over medium heat and then set them aside. I then do the proteins in the same pan over high heat and set them aside. I then do the sauce, picking up the fond from the proteins and veggies, and throw everything all together before serving.

It is decidedly more work than doing it all in a single wok, but without a real wok/heat source it is the best I can do (which is pretty darned good).
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Old 02-12-2021, 06:08 PM   #3
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I use a carbon steel flat bottomed wok. My gas stove doesn't put out huge amounts of heat so I stir-fry each ingredient separately; onions, peppers, pea pods, etc. then the meat. Toss it all back in the wok with the sauce and finish the dish.
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Old 02-13-2021, 12:07 PM   #4
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I used to have an inexpensive steel wok with a stovetop adapter ring that I bought at a local Asian market in the 70s.

I got rid of it and many other specialized or single-use items several years ago when I moved into my current apartment.

These days I use a 9" cast iron skillet. The skillet is fine but I do miss the little puddle of super hot oil that forms in the base of a traditional round bottom wok.

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Old 02-13-2021, 10:10 PM   #5
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Aunt Bea I used to use my Calphalon sauté pans, or cast iron skillet, when cooking on electric, and they did much better than flat-bottomed woks, since you can pre-heat them, and they held the heat, which made up for not cooking on gas. And when doing one of those stir-fries, where minced garlic and ginger is cooked in that pool of oil, I would pre-heat the pan, heat the oil up briefly, and tilt the pan, to get that "pool" of oil, and cook the ingredients briefly - it stays hot long enough from pre-heating that heavy metal, that it cooks like in a wok, then just lower it onto the high heat again, and start adding other ingredients.

I have 5 woks in my kitchen! Two are well seasoned carbon steel - a flat bottomed, 14", and a 20" round bottomed one. Surprisingly, the 20" one still doesn't get enough heat on my high heat burners (20,000 btu/hr) to double a normal recipe! I can do it outside, on my Big Kahuna Burner (65k btu/hr), and with that intense heat, there is a small area, about 6", that is basically nonstick - something I don't get on my range.

The other 3 woks I use for other uses, that they are great for. The 12" NS wok I use for sautéing a lot of vegetables with a small amount of oil, at medium to med-high heat, as they are very easy to toss in it, while doing other things. I also use it when making those Indian "dry fries" - technically not stir-fries, because there's no oil! The cast iron wok I got way back, when I saw that these, and ceramic based woks were used more in the dishes of SE Asia - more simmered dishes, though there are some stir-fries. I use that for Thai curries, and other similar dishes.
Ming's Copper Wok is an aluminum wok, with a NS ceramic coating, which I got a deal on, I think when he switched to the "platinum" color.
I don't use it for high heat cooking, but I have many things I have found it great for. One, is cooking down Mexican chili pastes, for moles, adobos, and similar dishes, in which the blended paste is "fried", stirring and scraping constantly, for 6-7 minutes, until very thick, before adding liquid. This is a messy process, but the wok helps greatly, catching much of the spatter, and it's fairly nonstick, which helps, too. I also use it for making nam prik pao - cooking the ground up ingredients in oil. I got a splatter screen designed for woks - like a lid for a 14" wok, which helps with this, as well as cooking down something like tomato paste, which starts out thinner, but eventually gets thicker, needing stirring like the Mexican pastes. The NS coating helps with tomato paste, too. I also use this one for the stacked bamboo steamer - this way, the seasoning on the carbon steel wok is not compromised.

I used to have a 24" wok, that I got at some Chinese supply place in NY for $10.95! I liked the 20" better for larger amounts, however, as it is deeper, with steeper sides. I gave it to a soup kitchen in the area, and the guy told me they found a lot of things to do with it, despite the fact that they had never had one before!

Woks are fantastic kitchen tools.
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Old 02-13-2021, 10:43 PM   #6
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I use a small ScanPan non stick wok for frying rice noodles. Works great.

I have a carbon steel Imusa wok from Wally World that I use for everything else.

I've found that it is easier to run two woks at a time when doing stir frys.
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Old 02-14-2021, 01:26 AM   #7
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I like cooking in woks so much that way back, when I bought my house, and set up my kitchen, I almost bought a range with a wok hole in it, plus 2 burners on each side. The hole had a 45k burner, and the others had 17.5k burners. The only reason I didn't get that was that I also wanted a convection oven - the norm now, even in home ranges, but only one commercial range company had them back then ('83) - Wolf - so that's what I got. But no wok hole.
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