Woks have been used in China since the second imperial dynasty, but didn’t become popular until the 1300’s.
Today, woks are used all around the world as one of the most versatile cooking pots.
Besides stir-frying, woks can be used in almost every cooking technique out there, including:
- and Making Soup!
What Makes a Wok a Wok?
Typically, woks are round, deep-shaped dishes. Originally, they were made with rounded bottoms, making it easier to stir and toss food.
However, in Western countries, you’ll find that most woks have a flattened bottom so that they can be used on a stove-top.
Woks are made out of many materials, but the most common used today are cast iron, carbon steel, aluminum, and non-stick such as Teflon.
You’ll find that woks usually come with either one long, stick handle or with two loop handles on opposite sides of the pan. Sometimes the stick handle will also have a “helper” loop handle to assist with handling.
Woks are typically used over a high flame and heats to high temperatures.
Ever heard of “Wok Hei”? In literal Chinese translation, it means: the “breath of wok.” If you cook with a wok long enough, you’ll physically see your wok’s breath as you make your food.
The Best Wok For You
This all depends on how you’ll be cooking with it.
If you cook with a gas stove, a flat bottomed, either carbon steel or cast iron wok will work best for you.
However, if you’re cooking on electric, carbon steel, aluminum or non-stick is best.
Induction stove-tops are almost made for cooking with woks. They naturally heat up the entire pan evenly through magnetic induction. The best wok for induction stoves are cast iron. However, any magnetic metal will work too.
What if you don’t have a stove? That’s okay too. Electric woks are manufactured just for that! Whether you’re taking it with you to a party, going camping, or your stove doesn’t work, electric woks will do it all for you.
Want to go old-fashioned? Try using a fire pit with a round-bottomed wok. Not only will you be living in the past, you’ll also get a tasty, smoky flavor with your food!
Advantages to Woks
It’s curved, concave shape are what really puts woks to the advantage. This shape helps create a small, heated spot at it’s bottom, allowing for faster cooking while using less energy.
The long, deep sides also make it easier to stir and toss food with less spillage, which means more food for you and less clean up after!
Curved sides on woks allow for a constant rotation of tumbling food, so all the food can be cooked in that hot-zone in the bottom.
In the end, you basically can cook anything with a wok, have less spillage and cleanup, while cooking thoroughly at a faster pace. What’s not to love?