ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Choosing a Wok

Updated on June 17, 2015

A wok comes in very useful if you do a lot of stir-frying; or you love cooking fried rice or fried noodles. Its depth ensures that the food stays in the wok as you're tossing it around.

But how do you find the best wok for your needs?

Material

Traditionally, the Chinese use woks made of carbon steel or cast iron, and many expert cooks still swear by them.

However, in Asian countries, you'll find many families are opting for non-stick woks, and increasingly, hard anodised woks. Young couples with sleek modern kitchens may prefer stainless steel (to match their d├ęcor).

Carbon Steel Wok

Of the various types of materials, I still think the carbon steel wok is the best, for the following reasons:

  • fairly light in terms of weight
  • suitable for cooking at the high heat required for stir-frying
  • heats up and cools off fast
  • durable (it lasts virtually forever) compared to cast iron

One disadvantage with carbon steel is that it can be quite difficult to keep seasoned (Seasoning is important because it prevents food from sticking to the wok when cooking). It's not unusual to find the coating created during the seasoning process getting scratched off during cooking or cleaning. Another minor inconvenience is that cleaning the carbon steel wok involves drying it off over a fire, and then rubbing oil over the inside surface.

Note: Once you get a carbon steel wok, you'll need to know how to season and care for it. I did a search of various sites, and I find these two articles to be most sensible:

Other materials

We've used non-stick woks as well over the years, but they are definitely not suitable for Chinese cooking. The non-stick coating is easily damaged by high heat. And ingredients like prawns with shells, and pork ribs scratch the coating rather easily. You'll find yourself having to replace your wok every so often.

You can turn to hard anodised woks, which are non-stick and scratch-resistant, but these are very expensive.

Stainless steel is another option. The major disadvantage with this type of wok is that you cannot season it. So you'll have to use more oil when cooking to prevent food sticking (If you prefer your food oily, that may not matter).

Flat or Round Bottom?

Round-bottomed woks are suitable for gas stoves. Chinese cooking experts will probably argue vociferously in favour of the round-bottomed wok; for the way heat distributes in it, and also for the fact that it works very well with the Wok Spatula (with its broad edge). If your wok doesn't come with one, note that you may need to get a Wok Ring to stabilise your wok on the gas stove.

Most families will find the flat-bottomed wok more versatile, especially those who find that they have to move homes every few years (not unusual for many people these days). With a flat-bottomed wok, you can be assured of being able to use your trusty wok whether you're faced with a gas stove or an electric stove. It depends on individual preference, but I find that a round wooden spoon/spatula works better with a flat-bottomed wok.

Size and handle

When it comes to size, it really depends on your needs - the number of people you usually cook for, and also the types of food you like to cook.

Homes with 2 to 4 people would probably find a 26 cm (10") wok most useful.

If you have a larger family or entertain a lot, you may want to get one that's slightly larger, perhaps a 32 cm (12") wok.

If you decide on a 26 cm or 32 cm wok, I like the kind with a long wooden handle on one side - much easier to keep the wok steady while you're stir-frying.

If you find that you need a larger wok, get one with little round handles on both sides. The two side handles make the heavier wok easier to lift and move.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Marlene_OnTheWall profile imageAUTHOR

      Marlene_OnTheWall 

      8 years ago from Singapore

      Hi Toddster, appreciate your comment.

      A typical Chinese family where I live would cook at least 3 dishes per meal - a meat/seafood dish, a vegetable dish, and another dish - even if they're cooking only for two. That would make the wok sizes I suggested make sense.

      Your feedback does highlight though that different families may need larger woks depending on what they typically cook, and how much they eat.

    • profile image

      Toddster 

      8 years ago

      The wok sizes at the end of this article are LOOPY! Way, way too small sizes recommened! A 10" 0r 12" wok is for an individual or a small couple that eat very, very little. A 14" is better for 2 people, and can squeeze by for up to 4 people. providing you are making several dishes. Really for 4 or more people, who are decent eaters, a 16" wok is the way to go.

    • Marlene_OnTheWall profile imageAUTHOR

      Marlene_OnTheWall 

      10 years ago from Singapore

      thanks for sharing your views, betherickson. I may just have to try an anodised wok. I've seen them demonstrated in shops many times, but the price has always put me off. But you do have a point -- for something we use so often, maybe it's worth it to spend a bit more.

    • betherickson profile image

      betherickson 

      10 years ago from Minnesota

      For me I prefer hard anodised woks even if it is expensive so that I don't have to worry from scratch and non-stick coating deterioration. It may be expensive but it's worth. :)

    • Marlene_OnTheWall profile imageAUTHOR

      Marlene_OnTheWall 

      10 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks for visiting, livelonger. I've got you in my fan club too :)

    • livelonger profile image

      Jason Menayan 

      10 years ago from San Francisco

      This is GREAT advice! And thanks for letting me know, although I saw because I'm in your fan club. :-)

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)