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choosing a wok

Posted by jefd (My Page) on
Fri, Feb 18, 05 at 23:31

I'm soon to have a gas range on which I'd like to
start using a wok. I'd like to get a thin-walled
wok, so that it will cool quickly when necessary.
I don't mind seasoning the wok, but would prefer
not to worry about rust. Has anyone used a thin-
walled stainless steel wok in the 'traditional'
way (seasoned, very high heat, not relying on a
thick wall to hold heat). I have read several times
that stainless is not as good as carbon steel, but
I have never read anywhere exactly why this is
true. Feedback from someone who has tried would
be appreciated.



Follow-Up Postings:

RE: choosing a wok

Stainless steel isn't conductive which is why it is ALWAYS clad with aluminum either fully or only on the bottom.

If you use a traditional wok with a gas flame, you will be relying on the entire surface of the wok to be incredibly reactive to heat. I'm not sure I've even seen a stainless wok or even a stainless pan that wasn't clad with aluminum in some way.

RE: choosing a wok

I just use a plain old cheap-o spun steel has to be seasoned....and never scoured....but it works more than fine!
Linda C

RE: choosing a wok

I have a nonstick Joyce Chen wok that I purchased at Bed Bath and Beyond. I have cooked with it quite a bit and like it a lot. I am getting married soon and think I will upgrade though. I am interested in getting a hard-anodized wok from QVC's hard-anodized line. Because it is made of that material, the heat is distributed all the way up to the rim. Watch the demo on QVC sometime and you'll see what I mean! If you're looking to just try one out though, I would really suggest the Joyce Chen wok! Comes with a lid, wooden stirrer and steam tray.

RE: choosing a wok

I have the same Joyce Chen wok that tmac96 described. It works great over high heat on my gas stove. Very easy to clean up also. I just make sure that I empty all the food out of the wok when I'm finished stirfrying. To clean I just place it in the sink with hot water, a little detergent and a regular dish scrub brush. Takes only a minute or two to clean up. I always put it back on a low burner to really dry up all the moisture before I hang it up in my pantry. I've had it for 12-15 years and the nonstick finish is still perfect.

RE: choosing a wok

I've had a common carbon steel wok for years. It cooks very fast, and cools down quickly. To clean it, we just let it soak a few minutes, scrub it out with a nylob scrubbie ball, throw it on a low burner for a second to eliminate any moisture, and sometimes wipe it down with a light coat of oil. After a while, the latter step really becomes unnecessary, as it develops a nice seasoning like a cast-iron pan. I like carbon steel because it will tolerate much higher temps than non-stick. Get any non-stick pan too hot and will release harmful fumes and the coating will deteriorate.

RE: choosing a wok

You can't season stainless - the food will stick. Food doesn't stick to my Joyce Chen nonstick wok but it doesn't cook very well either, with our "big" 11,000 BTU burner. I get much better results with a flat bottom carbon steel wok. I haven't tried a cast iron wok but others report good results. (I use the Joyce Chen wok for steaming.)

RE: choosing a wok

I bought a Scanpan Ergonomic ceramic-titanium nonstick wok (from info I read here) online on sale.

Here's what they say about it:

A truly ergonomic handle design assists in effortless handling and control.

# Scientifically researched optimum pan base thickness to heat up quickly, distribute heat evenly
# Superior heat retention
# No hot spots
# Permanent nonstick surface - perfect food release every time!
# No blistering or peeling
# No warping
# Safe to use with metal utensils
# No pre-oiling or seasoning necessary
# Now dishwasher Safe
# Full Lifetime Warranty
The patented rotilt handle design is based on scientific ergonomic concepts. It creates greatly improved handling of pots and pans during frying, sauting, pouring and even cleaning.

# Designed for both right-hand and left-hand use
# Perfectly molded to fit the contour of your hand
# Oven safe to 500 F (260 C)

This was quite a step up from my old aluminum wok...

Here is a link that might be useful: Scanpan Wok

RE: choosing a wok

I have a twenty year old thin carbon steel wok from a grocery store in china town. After finally getting it seasoned properly with peanut oil,it is truely non stick.I sometimes use it on a propane turkey fryer burner in the backyard with amazing results.Don't use soap to clean, just a plastic pad with hot water, then dry with a paper towel. Also, untill it gets really well seasoned, I would stick to stir frying, not steaming because that seems to break down the coating.

RE: choosing a wok

I too have a wonderful thin carbon steel wok purchased from a NY oriental food store back in 1974!!! Thirty-one years "new".

And I love it. Not interested in a non-stick wok. This little beauty perches on its little ring over my electric burner & turns out fabulous stirfries, steamed dumplings (in their own bamboo steamer, of course), & anything else I want to wok cook.

RE: choosing a wok

Used an electric non-stick for years, then an anodized pan, until I finally bought a Joyce Chen carbon steel wok. After using it half a dozen times I have to say I actually preferred the other 2. It obviously isn't "seasoned" enough to keep food from sticking and it totally grosses me out that I can't clean the pan. I know, I know! It's called seasoning, but it's really burnt on food. I don't use cast iron for the same reason. Dh has a large cast iron skillet that he uses to blacken fish outdoors over a propane burner. And that's all it's used for, so I can handle that.

I think I'll put this wok in the yard sale and look for a hard-anodized version.


RE: choosing a wok

I'd never heard of pre-seasoned woks until today.


Here is a link that might be useful: pre-seasoned woks

RE: choosing a wok

"...I would stick to stir frying, not steaming..."

Thank you. Serious woks are NOT for steaming. Hot, hot, hot! is where its at. Purveyors have everyone believing its just glorified stir-fry. It isn't.

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