Although it would seem to be a simple task to buy a wok, the decision of which wok to buy may not be as simple as it may first seem. Although to the untrained eye one wok may appear to be identical to every other wok on the shelves, there are some subtle differences that can make a big difference to the food you are able to create with your new wok. Here I am going to tell you about a few of the key things that you should look out for when you buy a wok.
Which Material Should I Chose?
One of the key things that will affect the results you get with any wok is the material which it is made from. Most woks on the market today are made of either carbon steel or cast iron. Traditionally, cast iron was what was most widely used in China, and so may create the most authentic results. Carbon steel is probably more popular today though, as it has some added benefits such as being light and taking less time to heat-up then cast iron versions. If you asked a large number of Chinese cooks which is the better of the two, it is quite possible that you would end up with a fifty-fifty split in opinion – both are good options to produce good quality, authentic Chinese food.
Newer models which have come out on the market include aluminium and stainless steel woks. The main benefit with these type of woks is that they stop food sticking on the inside. They are often offered with non-stick coating, which most people automatically assume is a bonus. Before you rush out and buy one of these newer styles of wok there is one thing to think about however – you are able to create the same effect yourself in a carbon steel or cast iron wok by seasoning the metal. This is a process where fat and salt are heated in the pan to coat the metal. This prevents rust as well as preventing food from sticking.
What Shape of Wok Should I Choose?
While many people automatically think of woks as having rounded bottoms, it is also possible to buy a wok with a flat base. Which you choose will probably not create a vast effect on the food you create with the wok. Instead it is more related to the type of cooker you have. Rounded bottom woks are better for gas stoves, but are almost impossible to use on ceramic hobs.
Does it Matter What Type of Handle My Wok Has?
Although the handle may be something you would usually give little consideration to when buying a pan, it can be important when you buy a wok. This is especially true if you opt for a large steel or iron wok, as this will be heavy to lift – a single, small handle may make it difficult to pick up, especially when it is hot. Some woks offer an additional small handle on the side of the pan, and this is something which you should definitely opt for if you are buying a wok which is large or made of iron. Choosing a wok with a wooden handle is also preferable to a metal handle, as there is less chance you will get burned when handling a hot wok.