If you enjoy Asian cooking, you’ve probably asked yourself: What is the best wok to buy? Investing in the perfect wok can make your cooking experience more enjoyable and effective.
What is a Wok?
A wok is a deep round-bottomed cooking pot that originated in China.
Woks are used in a range of Chinese cooking techniques, including stir frying, steaming, pan frying, deep frying, poaching, boiling, braising, searing, stewing, making soup, smoking and roasting nuts. Many would go as far as saying it’s the most important tool in a Chinese kitchen.
Types of Woks
Traditional carbon steel woks are durable, lightweight. They provide rapid heat conduction to quickly sear food, which is essential for stir-frying.
The most popular type is definitely the carbon steel wok. Many experienced Asian cooks wouldn’t consider using anything else.
Carbon steel is an inexpensive material that conducts heat incredibly effectively, so achieving that optimum temperature control is much easier than with other alternatives. Carbon steel woks form their own non-stick coating through the build-up of carbon deposits. This process is called ‘seasoning’. As well as changing the taste of the food, this makes the wok much easier to clean.
As they’re non-reactive, stainless steel woks are great for making acidic, vinegar or tomato-based dishes. But they transmit heat very quickly. They have the added benefit of being lightweight — a perk for both cooking and transporting food.
As with any non-stick pan, non-stick woks are designed to make cooking with less oil easier. Although carbon steel woks have non-stick qualities when seasoned, not everyone wants to go through this process. Some would rather the wok be ready for use from the moment it arrives, in which case, buying non-stick is a better option.
Non-stick coatings have developed over the years to withstand the higher temperatures needed for stir-frying. They still don’t sear the food in quite the same way as carbon steel, but they do a good job and are certainly easier to clean and maintain.
Seasoning a Wok?
Woks need to be “seasoned” by coating them in a thin layer of oil in preparation for cooking. Professional chefs will do this before every use of the wok, however, at home you may be able to get away with seasoning every other or every third meal.
To season a new wok, wash it thoroughly, then heat it all over. Once cooled, rinse it again, before using an oil-soaked cloth (or some kitchen roll) and a medium heat to cover the pan completely in a very thin layer of oil.
Once you’ve decided on the material of your wok, there are a few other factors to consider, such as what size you need. Woks come in a variety of sizes.
ThinKitchen’s Ken Hom woks come in sizes ranging from 20cm to 32cm, and your choice will probably depend on several factors, including your own preferences, the type of cooking stove you have, the depth of the wok and the amount of people you intend to cook for.
Elevate you cooking experience with Ken Hom’s signature range of Woks at thinKitchen.