Chinese Wok, A Timeless Cooking Tool!

   

Chinese WokA Chinese wok is a very versatile kitchen tool that you can do almost any kind of cooking in. It dates back to 6 century B.C. when cast iron was produced in China.

The characteristic of a traditional Chinese wok is its round-bottom. It has suited the traditional pit stove and the more mordern Chinese stove perfectly.

While it is in proper contact with the heating elements of a stove, it allows the classic spatula or ladle to toss and pick up the food very easily; it's great for the stir fry cooking method.

A made-up way has been created to solve the flat stove problem. People who enjoy cooking with a wok buy a wok ring to work as its base. I found this very useful myself.

Woks come in different sizes. While the diameter of a family wok is about 14 inches (36cm), a restaurant wok can be much bigger, up to 2 meters or more, depending on how big the restaurant is.

I'd seen those huge woks in my community kitchen when I was young. It was fascinating. The huge woks were used to steam rice, cook soup, stir fry dishes, everything. The spatulas were bigger than a garden spade. The cooking job is not for the weak.

Chinese Wok RingThere are also mini woks available, though, about 7 inches (18cm) in diameter, good for creating individual servings.

Wok Types by Heating Methods

Types of Woks by Materials and Which Kind Is Better

There are two common types of woks: carbon steel wok and cast iron wok. These woks work great, but they need seasoning before use to reach their best qualities. When "Chinese wok" is mentioned, it often refers to the cast iorn kind (or the round bottom kind.)

Carbon steel woks :

  • can be inexpensive, qualities and styles vary. Lower quality ones often can't heat up evenly and have a tendency to deform.
  • have reasonable durability
  • are relatively light in weight
  • have quick heat conduction
  • are more difficult to season and the season is easily lost; food is prone to stick to the wok

Cast Iron Woks

There are two common types of cast iron woks on the market: Chinese cast iron woks and western cast iron woks. They
  • are good in heat retention
  • can distribute heat evenly
  • have a stable carbonized seasoning layer to make it harder for food to stick to the wok
  • require longer heating time than carbon steel woks

Howerever, in comparison, Chinese cast iron woks are quicker in heating and relatively light while Western style woks are heavy and require more muscle strength for tossing action in cooking. They're also harder to manage because they heat up slowly and cool off slowly too.

Coated Non-stick Woks

There are two common kinds: Teflon and Xylan coating. They are not ideal for Chinese cooking. They are

  • easily scratched
  • cannot be used in some of Chinese cooking techiniques, like stir frying in high heat, which is over 230 °C (c.450 °F), since the Teflon coating will break down chemically at these temperatures.
  • not safe to use. At 350 °C (660 °F) the burning coat produces vapors which, if inhaled, can cause flu-like symptoms (see Teflon flu).

Other woks:

Clad woks: They are woks that have three layers: two sheets of stainless steel and a thick layer of aluminum or copper. They're expensive and heavy, but are dishwasher safe, which is welcome. These woks perform pretty well, but not better than carbon steel or cast iron woks.

Aluminium woks: When they normally don't retain heat well, some have been developed into products that consumers are fond of.

Chinese Wok 1They are made to live up to the rigors of everyday use, some feature a heat indicator that clearly shows when it's perfectly preheated to seal in flavor.

They may have a durable, scratch-resistant nonstick interior which is safe with metal utensils.

Their exterior coating may also be nonstick, easy to clean and dishwasher safe. Try to find one with a handle that stays cool on the stovetop. A helper handle is handy when strength is needed as the picture shown above.

Seasoning a Wok

Seasoning a wok is important since woks play such a major role in Chinese cuisine (some even called it wok cusine). Click the link to see how to do it. Proper seasoning will give you a great Chinese wok to cook delicious Chinese food.

 

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