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How many woks do you own?

My DH suggested this and I told him to post it but have gone ahead with the question.

How many do you own, what type and do you use them for more than Asian food?

The question arose when I asked him to get my large round bottomed wok out to fry chicken wings for hot wings tonight. I also have two stick handled woks in 14" and 12" sizes. All 3 are carbon steel. How about you?

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  1. Candy, I have had a very large restaurant wok for over twenty-five years and it has cooked everything imaginable. I used it on a sailboat for many years as my main cooking vessel because its small (flat) bottom would fit inside the burner fences (designed to keep hot pots from sliding) unlike large diameter pans. Chicken Cacciatore for 20 is probably the largest amount for a single on-the-water gathering. Another huge bonus for this wok is the "helper" handle directly across from the long stick handle. I used to tie a long line through this and drag it behind the boat for cleaning because it was much too large to fit in my Ken & Barbie-sized sink!

    I'd grab my "Big Beauty" in case of a fire. It is a workhorse. I also use a smaller 12" wok for everyday, at-home cooking for the two of us.

    1. My wife cooks Chinese food exclusively has exactly ONE wok. Her cuisine (Shanghainese) leans more toward braising, steaming and stewing than actual stir-frying, and she's taken to Western-style fry pans and stock pots for those techniques. Stir-frying is a hands-on technique anyway, and she can only stir-fry one thing at a time. And because of the tapered shape of a traditional wok, size is more or less irrelevant as long as you have the biggest wok you care to handle.

      On the other hand, "wok" is just Cantonese for "guo" which can refer to any kind of cooking pot, so I suppose you can say she has several "woks."

      1. I have three in the inventory - two round bottomed with double handles, one larger than the other (maybe 14 and 12 inches, I'm not sure), and one flat-bottomed (and yes, I know a flat-bottomed wok is an oxymoron) acquired through marriage, with a stick handle. All carbon steel, all more-or-less seasoned OK. I don't use them for anything other than Asian food, and sometimes not even then - my 15,000 BTU burners are about an order of magnitude too anemic for real wok cooking and a large frypan often does a better job, but I enjoy using them anyway, so I usually do.

        1. Two- one 14" and one 10", both carbon steel. I actually probably shouldn't take credit for these... they're my fiance's, but I bought the first one for him. I'd say we use them equally for Asian food and equally for other things. We use the larger one if we are going to fry anything usually. The larger one has a removable handle and the smaller one has the two metal handles on the sides. Actually, this is the larger one that we have: http://www.wokshop.com/HTML/products/...

          1. I have two, both anodized aluminum. I used to have 2 carbon steel woks and got tired of dealing with the rust so I gave them away. Mine are about 16" and 18", used mostly for Asian cooking especially Asian vegetables which I do several times a week. I also use them when I want to cook large quantities of food over high heat. I also use a wok for steaming big items like whole fish, dumplings or Chinese steamed sponge cake.

            According to my parents, my grandfather who died when I was a baby, was an excellent cook who used woks exclusively. He would fry a single egg in the giant cast iron wok he used all the time.

            1. None! I use my big non-stick skillet for (almost exclusively for) stirfries. America's Test Kitchen did a thing on woks a while back and said that the only good wok is an electric one, and that's good for deep fryin' stuff, not stirfries. I guess I was happy to hear that, given the size of my kitchen, so I just got a big nonstick (Calphalon 18".)

              3 Replies
              1. re: Chowsmurf

                And that's exactly why I don't believe everything America's Test Kitchen puts out. Woks are perfect for stir-frying, that's what they do 90% of the time or more. And, you seldom see anything electric that can maintain temperture like a wok sitting over a high gas flame. Just look at Chinese restaurants, the wok stations are super hot, far more than any electric could be.

                My wok will be out this evening doing a stirfry, it will take only moments and dinner will be ready.

                Oh, BTW, I have 3 woks, papa wok, mama wok and baby wok.

                1. re: rtmonty

                  Excellent point. I think that by regulation electric devices are not allowed to maintain a suitable heat level for stir-fry. My wife had the frustratinfg experience of trying ot cook a big Chinese meal for my relatives at my mother's home on an electric range, and as soon as the burner got hot enough it would automatically shut off.

                  1. re: Gary Soup

                    This was also part of ATK's point- that to have sufficient heat to use a wok properly and gain all the benefit from it, you need either high BTU or a jet engine restaurant burner. That most people are using woks in their home where a regular flat pan in many cases may actually be the best tool for the job, and keeps you from having to get a one-trick-pony.

              2. Until trash day last week, three: a large round-bottom that I've had since high school, a Lodge cast iron that I've had since 2002, and a largish flat-bottomed pounded aluminum from Super 88 that was my wife's mother's. I threw out the last one because I realized I haven't used it in over a year.

                Frankly, I don't use a wok at all anymore, although I tend to stir-fry at least once every couple of weeks: we have an insanely large Lodge cast iron skillet, 18 inches across at the base. It gets ripping hot, but the wide surface means I can push things to the sides and away from the direct heat of the flame if they're cooking too fast. The only problem is that if I'm cooking something saucy like ma po tofu, my left arm gets tired holding the skillet over the serving dish as I'm emptying it.

                1. Three. One 14" Chinese carbon steel wok (southern style, with a handle on each side), another 14" Chinese copper wok (Northern style, with a single protruding handle), and an Indian cast iron kadahi (10"). I use the Chinese woks for stir frying and the kadahi for deep frying and slow stewing--it's heavier and retains heat longer. They all have round bottoms, which can be tricky maneuvering at times; luckily, my stove can accomodate them securely. They are truly my most versatile cooking vessels; I have used them to cook everything from Asian stir fries to doro wat.