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Best Wok Brand

I have a crappy electric wok and want to buy a wok to start cooking. None of that non-stick crap, I want the real deal. But I don't know what brand to buy. Any suggestions?

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  1. I love the roomy Calphalon hard-anodized wok I've had for years courtesy of my in-laws. I made spinach & goat cheese risotto in it last night.

    1. Go to any number of Chinese restaurant supply shops in the SF Bay Area where you're located and pick the wok that suits you. I'd recommend carbon steel, nothing fancy and find one with the handle style and balance that works for you.

      1. Unless you have an industrial-strength gas jet range, I think you are bound to be disappointed with wok cooking at home. There is a reason Chinese restaurant kitchens use those double-ring gas jet heat sources that look like jet fighter engine flames. Woks are thin metal, and rounded at that, so they do not retain heat well at all. A normal kitchen's gas stove won't deliver the necessary heat for correct stir-fry cooking, which depends on an immediate sear on the food. And an electric range, with only a fraction of the wok surface in contact -- forget it.

        You will get far superior results at home by using your heaviest cast iron skillet, letting it preheat on the stove for three to five minutes, and then cooking in small batches. Preheating allows the heat to build up, and the heft of the cast iron helps retain the heat. And cooking at extremely high heat is a secret to good stirfry, along with uniform cutting of the inredients and using tons of garlic and ginger in the cooking oil.

        1. Go to www.wokshop.com it is a S.F. website...I have purchased several woks there. Carbon steel is what you want.....check it out

          2 Replies
          1. re: nyfoodjoe

            I second the wokshop.com recommendation. Lots of good information there, too.

            1. re: nyfoodjoe

              I would tell anyone in the USA to go to the wokshop website, and for a poster who is already in the SF Bay Area, it's a no-brainer. Go to SF Chinatown, and Tane Chan and her staff will set you up with the best thing for you at a great price. I know I sound like an advertisement, but the place is that good.

              While I second nosh's point that wide cast iron is a legitimate alternative for many recipes, I disagree that disappointment is inevitable with home wok cookery. You can find cookbooks like "Breath of the Wok" which capably adapt recipes to home conditions.

              That said, I do agree that high heat is better if you can get it, which is why I have an outdoor propane burner for such purposes. Wok Shop can sell you that equipment, too, and it's not super-pricey.

            2. See this thread too:
              http://www.chowhound.com/topics/382255

              while it's true you won't be able to get quite the same heat, we've had pretty good luck at home with a round bottomed carbon steel wok over a wok ring - the wok ring lets the wok get pretty close to the flame.

              1 Reply
              1. re: will47

                If you have a chance, go to a chinese store, I bought mine 25 years ago, its stainless steel with a copper bottom, really works great, aprox 50 dollars now

                Not true that you cannot cook a good meal without gaz powered range, its just practice

              2. I got a carbon steel wok with a coupon for about $20 at World Market. Sure you have to season it, but after that is over, it works awesome.

                1. This is a 4 years old thread, but since it has been revived, I am going to agree with Bada Bing and ahack.

                  For wok, it really isn't about "brand". It is more about the material and overall construction. Both carbon steel and thin (not thick) cast iron woks are great choice for woks. They are very nonstick after seasoned. In addition, the heat distribution, weight and balance are exactly what wok cooking needs.

                  In fact, it will be interesting to hear any long-time wok users to suggest otherwise.

                  1. A steel, or carbon steel wok, necessities if you are seasoned first, so that you simply can avoid rust from appearing to the surface.

                    1. I just have to add another vote to Tane Chan and The Wok Shop. They simply are the best source in the US for quality woks. We all have different needs, and different interests as far as wok cookery requires. The Wok Shop guys know that, and have the best assortment for every need. Hey...I'm a happy camper, they have flat bottom carbon steel Peking woks. I think I am wok set for life now!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: wabi

                        I have two of the flat-bottom carbon-steel "Peking pans". Obviously these are not true woks, but they are the best approximation, in my humble opinion, to use with inadequate western appliances. I do have a couple very good, old seasoned iron frying pans, but they are limited in their use in terms of stir-frying, using the wok to fry seafood etc.

                      2. I know this is an old-news thread but I'm a) a big fan of the wok as a cooking utensil and b) currently living in Asia.

                        The only alternative worth considering to a carbon steel (or cast iron) wok is a heavy, bare cast iron pan, as described by nosh above.

                        That said, Asian home stoves like we've got a) aren't attached to ovens and b) tend to throw some serious heat out there. I don't know if they're available in the states, but you could get a turkey fryer. The burner should work. You'd have to use it outside, but a real Chinese stove would need an over-the-top ventilation system anyway.

                        Here in Bangkok it's surprising (and discouraging) to see many people, including restaurateurs (well, OK, street cart operators) using stainless steel or aluminium woks. This is a poor choice for stir frying as they don't take seasoning well and stuff sticks. If the pros have food sticking to the sides of their pot so will you.

                        Carbon steel and cast iron season beautifully, are nonstick, and at high temperatures can give you 'wok hei' (that elusive stir-fry flavor).

                        As for brands as other posters have said they're mostly irrelevant, but I've got a Chan Chi Kee hand-hammered wok and I love it. Same CCK as the cleavers (I've got a few of those too, and love them). Hand hammering makes the wok stronger. I got mine for about US$20 on Temple Street in Chinatown, Singapore. Singapore's a great place to find out what Wok Hei tastes like, by the way.

                        1. As per the original poster, a friend gave me her electric wok. I certainly don't use it for stir-frying, but find it useful for certain purposes such as braising a duck (which is the wrong shape to fit into any of my pots).