Woks cook food quickly and are great for high heat stir-frying. Typically, they can use stainless steel, aluminum, or cast iron. However, many professional chefs and food experts agree that a carbon steel wok is best because it heats up quickly, stays hot longer, and is lightweight and very durable.
Carbon steel woks vary widely in size, thickness, and design. The Traditional Hand Hammered Craft Wok Pow Wok is a great example with a wooden handle and a non-slip base. Alternatively, there are plenty of other options to suit most cooking styles and budgets.
What to know before buying a carbon steel wok
Are carbon steel woks safe?
Carbon steel is a mixture of iron and carbon. It is incredibly durable and you can heat to extreme temperatures without giving off toxic fumes. This makes it a great choice for cookware, frying pans, and woks.
Round bottom or flat bottom
Choosing between a flat-bottomed wok and a round-bottomed wok will primarily depend on your heat source. A round-bottom wok is best suited for gas stoves and allows the heat to concentrate for intense frying. Flat-bottomed woks are more stable on an electric hob but tend to heat food unevenly.
You will need to season a carbon steel wok before using it and periodically thereafter. This creates an impermeable surface and prevents food from sticking. To season a wok, you must first clean it thoroughly with dish soap. Heat the wok on high heat for about 15 minutes, then cover the surface with a layer of high temperature oil. Finally, heat the wok again until the oil starts to smoke and let it cool naturally.
What to look for in a quality carbon steel wok
Carbon steel woks can last a lifetime if cared for properly. However, nonstick surfaces can be toxic and generally have a lower heat threshold. This means that it cannot withstand the high heat required for a good stir-fry and can peel off or seep into food. A well-seasoned wok is more versatile and durable than a wok with a non-stick surface.
Look for a minimum 14 gauge carbon steel wok that is about 1.6 millimeters thick. This balance keeps the metal from bending in the heat while keeping the wok relatively light.
Woks can range from under 8 inches to over 3 feet in diameter. Deciding which size wok to buy will depend on how many people you usually cook for, 12 to 14 inches being a good size for a family of four. Large woks may not fit well on a regular kitchen gas burner and are more difficult to store.
How much you can expect to spend on a carbon steel wok
Carbon steel is not particularly expensive. Therefore, a A high-quality wok should cost between $ 20 and $ 100, depending on its size and the material of the handle.
Carbon steel wok faq
Will a carbon steel wok rust?
A. Since carbon steel mainly uses iron, yes. If your wok is starting to show signs of rust, it’s usually time to re-season it. First of all, you need to completely remove the old layer of seasoning using a scouring sponge and dish soap.
How to clean a carbon steel wok?
A. After a seasoning wok, it is crucial to protect its surface. Therefore, avoid washing it with soap or abrasive materials. Instead, soak it in lukewarm water after use, clean it with a soft cloth, and make sure it’s completely dry before storing it.
Is there anything I shouldn’t cook in a carbon steel wok?
A. Highly acidic foods and sauces like tomatoes, vinegar, or wine can remove the protective seasoning, so you should avoid them if possible. For the same reason, carbon steel woks are not the best choice for simmering liquids for a long time.
What is the best carbon steel wok to buy?
Superior carbon steel wok
Traditional Hand Hammered Craft Wok Pow Wok
What would you like to know: This 14 inch wok is handcrafted in China and has a rounded bottom and a wooden handle.
What you will love: It is durably made from 15 gauge carbon steel and has a secondary steel handle that stays cool even at high temperatures.
What you should consider: The screws that hold the wooden handle in place can loosen over time.
Or buy: Sold by Amazon
Best carbon steel wok for the money
Hiteclife High Carbon Steel Saute Pan
What would you like to know: Ideal for novice cooks, this economical wok measures 12 inches in diameter and has a removable handle for use in an oven.
What you will love: It has received a double oxidation treatment which makes it resistant to rust, corrosion and scratches.
What you should consider: Its flat bottom can cause uneven cooking of food.
Or buy: Sold by Amazon
To be checked
Joyce Chen Classic Series carbon steel wok
What would you like to know: It has birch wood, handles that stay cool, and uses 1.5mm carbon steel.
What you will love: It is part of a set including a domed lid, a bamboo spatula and a recipe book.
What you should consider: It comes with a factory protective coating, which you must remove before first use.
Or buy: Sold by Amazon and Home Depot
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Chris Gillespie written for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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