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Luke Bell
Luke Bell

Good Wok To Buy |TOP|

I would say that wok hei is the main reason, aside from the odd dash of MSG, that people say restaurant food tastes so much better than home cooking. That said, we can work to achieve those flavors at home too with the right tools!

good wok to buy

Teflon coated or non-stick woks are very common and found in just about every big box store there is, so there are plenty of brands and sizes to choose from. The attraction is the non-stick cooking surface, easy cleanup, and the fact that no wok seasoning is required.

You may be curious about the newer ceramic non-stick woks. We have tried them and like them more than the standard teflon coating, but like teflon, they also get scratched and will lose their non-stick properties over time due to wear and tear. We retired our ceramic frying pan after 2 years of pretty light use.

Below is a picture of our Cuisinart stainless steel wok today. Notice that after use, there is some oil residue, as well as charred spots. This residue can be tough to scrub off. You can also scratch the pan if using a heavy duty scouring pad.

Some of the oldest cookware is made from cast iron, and Chinese woks are no exception. Traditionally designed with two small metal handles, cast iron woks were used across China for years in every household.

When it comes to caring for a cast iron wok, it must be seasoned first. Clean with soapy water and thoroughly rinse before your first use, and then coat the entire wok in vegetable oil before reheating it over a flame or in the oven.

What does a good wok patina look like, you ask? Our wok pictured below is a large 20-inch wok that is about 6 years old, and we regularly hand scrub and wash it after every use, frequently (but not always) using a very small amount of dish soap.

Woks traditionally have round bottoms (rather than flat, though these are relatively common). Chinese restaurants have special wok stoves with a round opening which cradles a round-bottomed wok perfectly.

He started with heating the righthand wok and tossing in the ingredients with oil, garlic, and wine and covering it with a wok lid (elapsed time was about 30 seconds). Next, he would do the same with the left wok and as soon as he covered the left wok, the wok lid would come off the right wok, the seasonings would go in, and then the cornstarch slurry and a little more oil to give the food that restaurant sheen.

While I moved the finished dish to the waiter station and placed the next dish, he would wash the wok. This is why you put the faster cooking dish on the right side, because the left wok would have a little more cooking time.

He would then immediately tend to the left wok and finish that dish while the right wok got screaming hot. He would repeat this constant cooking in waves, since the restaurant had 26 tables and sat 130 people.

Not to mention the fact that one of us would have to manage the fryer for Fried Egg Rolls or Shrimp Toast and the broiler for classic Chinese Spareribs. What a madhouse it was, but when we worked in rhythm, it was beautiful!

When we did our kitchen makeover, we invested in a Viking stove with a special wok burner and a Viking hood vented through the roof (Note: this is not a sponsored post!) Both are a joy to cook with, and the vent keeps the house free of smoke and weird smells.

When installing a vent hood for your kitchen, try to keep the duct lengths short and minimize the turns to get the maximum draw. Non-ducted vents are better than no vents, since they have filters to catch the grease, but ultimately, the kitchen odors and smells will linger unless you have external ducting.

I also want to comment on microwaves with vent motors installed over the stove, since they are so common. In general, the fans that come with microwave ovens are usually 300 cfms and not very powerful.

We love to entertain, so cooking with a large wok is essential for dinner parties, and having the extra space to maneuver the food is pretty fantastic. That said, you can achieve the same nonstick patina with a smaller carbon steel wok.

Bill is the dad of The Woks of Life family. He grew up in upstate New York, working through high school and college in restaurants with his father, a chef. Rose from modest beginnings as a Burger King sandwich assembler to Holiday Inn busboy and line cook, to cooking at the family's Chinese restaurant, while also learning the finer points of Cantonese cooking from his immigrant parents. Specializes in all things traditional Cantonese and American Chinese takeout.

Our favorite overall wok is the The Wok Shop Carbon Steel Pow Wok. It's lightweight, heat responsive, durable, and easy to season. However, it's worth noting that Wok Shop is a small business and can experience significant shipping delays as well as faltering customer service. And we have numerous received emails from readers stating they didn't receive their wok after a month-plus, eventually having to cancel their orders. So, that said, we also like the Yosukata Black Carbon Steel Wok, which is pre-seasoned and has a helper handle. And another great option is to head to your local Chinatown, where you can find fantastic 14-inch, flat-bottomed woks at great prices.

Marianne has been writing and testing recipes in the test kitchens for Dotdash Meredith since 2016. She studied at the International Culinary Center, in New York, and the International School of Italian Cuisine, in Italy, under highly esteemed chefs and graduated in 2015.

Woks are versatile and made to last, so shopping for one can be a once-in-a-lifetime task. To find the best options, we spoke with experts and then got to work sautéing, frying, and steaming. One clear winner stood out: The Wok Shop 14-inch Carbon Steel Wok With Metal Side Handle. Due to its softly curved angles, it performs a lot like a professional, round-bottom wok. And its comfortable-to-hold wooden handle and light weight make this wok easier to lift, toss, and pour from.

For this guide, we interviewed wok-cooking experts, including the cookbook authors Hsiao-Ching Chou and J. Kenji López-Alt; cooking video star Jon Kung; the Made With Lau family (Chung Sun Lau, Jenny Lau, and Randy Lau); and Grace Young, author of the wok-cooking manifesto The Breath of a Wok.

We scoured cooking sites such as Serious Eats, The Kitchn, and Food52, as well as retailers like Amazon, The Restaurant Store, and Williams-Sonoma, looking for best-selling or highly recommended woks. After determining our criteria for what makes a good wok, we narrowed our pool to six finalists, and we put them through a series of cooking tests.

We think everyone could benefit from owning a good wok. But answering the question of who should get one really comes down to having realistic expectations about what a wok can accomplish and how much care is required. This guide is aimed at home cooks looking for ease and everyday utility without sacrificing function.

We also recognize that learning to season a wok can present a barrier for some. Carbon steel (the classic wok material) has many advantages. But since it requires seasoning before use, we also considered alternatives in the form of pre-seasoned carbon steel or nonstick coatings, so we could weigh the pros of those conveniences against any cons.

Though we also looked at woks made of cast iron, tri-ply stainless steel, and other metals with nonstick coatings, it was clear after all of our research and speaking with experts that most experienced wok users prefer carbon steel. It conducts heat quickly and efficiently, is light and easy to maneuver, and over time acquires a patina of seasoning mimicking that of nonstick coatings (minus the environmental and public health concerns). This seasoning only gets better and more nonstick-like the more you use the wok. We also made sure to include a couple of pre-seasoned carbon-steel woks in our testing, to see whether they could really provide a shortcut to a nice, slick patina.

This wok comes in a variety of sizes and with multiple combinations of features. You can choose the same wok in 12- and 16-inch versions, with a round bottom, or with a wide wooden helper handle (instead of a metal, ear-shaped helper handle). While we think the 14-inch flat-bottom wok is the most practical and versatile, you might have particular needs that would benefit from a bigger or smaller wok, or you may have a setup that suits a round-bottom wok. The Wok Shop also sells many wok accessories, from spatulas to lids to wok rings.

One of our kitchen editors, Marilyn Ong, has been using the Sur La Table Professional Carbon Steel Wok at home for the last 8 years. Its shape is similar to the Wok Shop wok we recommend, though it lacks that unique angled handle that makes the Wok Shop one so great for lifting and tossing. We're curious if this would be a good option for a similar wok with more predictable supply and shipping.

Our winning wok scored full marks across all our cooking tests, with no ingredients sticking or burning. The dual handles make it easy and safe to lift (although they do get a little hot after extended periods), while its deep design means food stays inside when tossing and turning.

If style is important, this wok comes with an attractive marble finish that will match most kitchenware collections. It scored highly on all cooking tests too, and was a doddle to clean. The glass lid also adds to its versatility.

The wok is a bowl-shaped utensil that has several advantages. It spreads heat evenly, uses less oil for deep-frying than a traditional deep-fat fryer and ensures that food tossed during stir-frying lands back in the pan. It also can double as a frying pan.

Traditional woks are made from carbon steel, which require regular seasoning with oil to stop them from rusting. Modern woks sometimes come with a non-stick coating, plus you can choose between a round- or flat-bottomed wok, depending on your preference and hob type. 041b061a72


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