How much do you enjoy stir-fried food, or how much would you love to engage in that kind of cooking? Probably much, and that is why you are here! Relax, you are in the right place.
You see. Stir-frying conjures up a fun and fast cooking experience – you have probably seen this at Chinese restaurants where chefs flip food into sizzling pans, meat, and vegetables tumbling in the air and finally releasing an irresistible and savory aroma.
Well, you can bring all that goodness into your home, and once you know how to do it right and with the right wok, stir-fried meals can prominently feature in your home’s menu.
So, what is the best wok to buy? That would depend on several factors so read on to find out.
Why Do you Need a Wok to Stir Fry?
We cannot get into the best wok for money without explaining why you would want to purchase this piece of cookware in the first place.
Now, you have probably been stir-frying your food in a sauteé or frying pan before and while that suffices, neither is ideal. Sauteé pans will steam your food rather than sizzle it while frying pans are too flat to comfortably move your ingredients around.
Stir-frying is supposed to be a high-heat and fast cooking method that cooks food uniformly using dry heat so that instead of softening, it browns.
Here are several reasons why you would prefer a wok over the aforementioned options.
* Woks come with high sides that facilitate easy flipping and tossing of food
* They have flared sides that work to release steam instead of remaining in to soften food
* Compared to regular pans, woks are fabricated from thinner material. This allows faster and efficient conduction of heat.
Any high-quality wok should have these three features.
How to Choose the Best Wok
Now that we have that out of the way, let us get into it right away. Here is how to ensure that you get value for your money when shopping for a wok.
As we have previously mentioned, the ideal wok should be able to conduct heat effectively and should also be lightweight.
We can tell you now that carbon steel woks fit that description and that is why they are a popular choice. Aluminum also makes for a great option because it is lightweight as well.
That said; we do understand that you may prefer the browning that cast iron woks deliver. What you need to remember here is that cast iron is a heavier material and will require a bit of maintenance so if you do not mind that, go ahead and get yourself one.
Nonstick vs. Seasoned
Stir-frying involves using high heat and you certainly do not want your food to stick to the bottom of the pan as you cook.
Now, cast iron and carbon steel woks can be seasoned with oil. What that does is to create a naturally nonstick surface that improves the more you use the wok.
You will realize that most woks come with a nonstick coating that makes it easy for food to glide over the surface as well as easy to clean. The only problem with that is that the coating cannot handle extremely high temperatures so your food will not be as crisp as you may like.
Moreover, the nonstick coating tends to deteriorate over time so our advice here would be to go for a seasoned wok as it will last longer.
Flat vs. Curved Base
The traditional wok has a curved base and that is where the beauty of the wok lies if you ask us. The round bottom allows for heat to spread efficiently and food to be flipped and tossed around easily.
However, the round-bottomed wok is not suitable for most modern cooktops so you will have to invest in a wok ring that will secure the wok in place over something like the gas burner.
On the other hand, if you would love to cook directly on your cooktop the best wok for gas stove would have to be flat-bottomed.
Generally, it is easier to stir-fry on a gas stove compared to an electric one since gas burners tend to produce more heat (remember stir-frying requires high heat).
Usually, woks come with two small metallic hands on both sides or a single small one that acts as the auxiliary and a long wooden one.
The wooden handle is something you will appreciate if you would want to effortlessly lift the wok without a potholder.
Nevertheless, you will need the handles mostly to place the wok on your cooktop where it should stay in place for as long as you cook while stirring and flipping your food.
If you intend to do a bit of tossing, ensure that the handle is comfortable to hold and anti-slip.
How big is your family? Do you host guests often? Or are you getting a wok for commercial cooking? All these are questions you need to ask yourself before buying a wok.
If you are cooking for an average-sized family, a wok with a diameter of 12-14 inches should be enough to prepare daily meals.
However, if you intend to be cooking for many people, you want to get a larger wok so something with a diameter of 16 or more inches should do.
You also want to keep in mind that cooking little food in a large pan makes it easy to scorch the cooking oil and burn your food hence bitter-tasting food.
As you can see, shopping for the perfect wok is not a job, but it is not a walk in the park either. You want to consider several crucial features that we have promptly discussed above.
What we may have forgotten to mention is that you need to consider the storage space you have. This is because you do not want to buy a large wok that has nowhere to sit once you are done cooking.
Other than that, we believe that you will be able to make the right choice with this article at your disposal.