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Dec 11, 2007 09:21 AM

Recommend Wok?

I'm looking to purchase a new wok and wondered if anyone had a brand that they recommended.

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  1. The best woks are made from inexpensive carbon steel that have no non-stick coating. The All-Clad chefs pan is very good for 1-2 people, but it is quite pricey.

    I bought my 16" wok at a Chinese grocery store for less than $20.

      1. I might hold off on buying a wok unless you have a wok burner or an incredibly powerful stove. Most home stoves don't have near enough power to effectively use the wok the way it is intended. You're better off just using a frying pan.

        10 Replies
        1. re: vanillagorilla

          I agree that most home stoves don't have enough oomph to do a proper (emphasis on proper) stir fry in a wok, but a wok is still better that a frying pan because of the high, steep sides. It's much more difficult to stir fry in a frying pan.

          1. re: rfneid

            There are 'stir fry pans' with high curved sides, and a flat bottom.

            1. re: paulj

              jA wok by any other name.......

            2. re: rfneid

              Then get a bigger frying pan. I have a 12 inch and I have no problem at all doing stir-fry for four.

              1. re: rfneid

                I don't think you understand the point of the high deep sides in a wok. During stir frying the key is to heat the very bottom over super high heat until it's almost glowing. You cook in the bottom and push the ingredients up to the top to keep them from over cooking. Since most home stoves can't get the bottom that hot, you are better off using a frypan and doing it in batches.

                1. re: vanillagorilla

                  Of course I understand the point which is why is said you can't do a proper stir fry on the standard home stove. But I still say a wok easier & more convenient for stir frying than a frying pan. You can get the bottom of a wok just as hot as you can get the bottom of a frying pan - plus you have the high sides to avoid slopping over.

                  1. re: rfneid

                    You can certainly get the bottom of the wok equally as hot as the bottom of a skillet, but since the wok is completely round, there's much less bottom on the wok than there is on the skillet.

                2. re: rfneid

                  Using a real Wok on a home cooktop with a flat surface doesn't make a lot of sense, as there is very little surface of the wok actually in contact with the burner (unlike an actual wok burner, where the pan sits down in the flames). It is not how a wok is intended to be used. You are better off with a regular fry pan. But, as others have said, if you don't have the BTU's, doing a decent stir fry is problematic.

                3. re: vanillagorilla

                  I do my wok cooking on one of those inexpensive outdoor propane burners hooked up to a 20-lb. gas bottle. I've used hose clamps to secure a wok ring to the burner grid to make a stable setting for the wok. Cheap. This will get the wok plenty hot. Not recommended for indoor use, though.


                  1. re: Jim Washburn

                    I saw a similar setup used by Alton Brown on Good Eats when he did a show on stir frying. I believe he said the burner he was using came from a turkey fryer.

                4. If you need a name brand, try Atlas or Joyce Chen. Just make sure you get one that is very thin, cold rolled steel (i.e. old fashion carbon steel that, yes,indeed, does rust if you do not treat it with respect). Those nonstick or stainless steel woks are worse than useless (e.g. All Clad 'chefs pan' may look vaguely like a wok, but it is not even close, worse, I find this sort of pan to be worse than useless). I just go to Chinatown in SF and pick out a no-name wok for less than $10. The Wok Shop there also has a good website to buy one. For the home, get one that is 16 or 18 inches; it may look ridiculously huge on your home stove, but remember than only a small portion on the bottom of the pan is used for cooking.

                  1. I think you might have noticed from the previous replies that buying a wok is not a choice of brand instead a choice material. Carbon steel is thin and light while cast iron is heavier with better heat retention. You might find my previous post on Wok helpful:

                    I think 14" or 16" wok is enough if you don't cook for an army. The standard wok size in China is 14". I have cooked in a 20" wok on a commercial range before, and the heat loss is too fast for the range to catch up. Using a 14" on a standard range, you can still get some decent 'fire power' from the heat without losing it too fast. If you use anything larger, be sure to couple it with a high BTU range.