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Feb 12, 2008 06:53 PM

Stainless steel wok?

Recently, I was in an Asian market and I saw what I thought was a wok made of stainless steel. Is this possible? If so, has anyone here used one? How does it compare to conventional (rustable) steel?

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  1. My first wok was stainless.

    I was young, and it was cheap.
    and it was not good.

    To be fair, I was trying to use it on a mediocre electric stove, but there was no way to get it hot, and certainly no way to keep it hot. It would have been ok to use for steaming or frying, but that's just about it.

    My current wok is not even good iron, but it is a thousand times more useful than that one was.

    I retired it in a short move for a school project as the head piece of an electric chair!

    1. There's nothing unusual with steel woks, at least the carbon steel variety.

      Traditional Chinese woks come in two varieties. Cast iron woks with two handles that are found in southern China and the carbon steel ones with a single handle found more often in the northern parts of China.

      Whatever type of wok you buy, you must season it well and never ever buy one that is non-stick.

      1. The problem is that stainless isn't a very good conductor of heat. A wok, because of it's shape and the way it is used, needs to conduct well. I tried using a stainless wok once and wasn't very pleased with it. I much prefer my mild(carbon) steel wok, with all its stains and buildup. It cooks wondefully and quickly. I'd avoid the stainless.

        1 Reply
        1. re: chazzerking

          I love my carbon steel wok and have had it for over 25 years. It is all black and seasoned and all I have to do is rinse it out when I am done, put it on a hot burner until dry then I rub it with just a little oil on a paper towel. I do have an electric stove (once it dies I am getting gas!) but on high, it works fine. I even used to take it camping and use in on my propane cook stove. I definitely agree with the non stick comment. The carbon steel woks are not that expensive and last a lifetime.

          Funny story, I had gone to a friends house who was on bed rest with a pregnancy and made her a stir fry in my wok. Her husband came home and while her and I were talking he was cleaning up. I wasn't paying attention and after about 20 minutes he turned to me and apologized that he couldn't get the wok clean! Laughingly, I told him it was supposed to be that black and had taken me years to get it like that! I felt bad he had been over there working up a sweat trying to get it clean. Upon returning home and telling my husband about it, he jokingly said that he had probably taken a good ten years off my wok!

          One last thought, I recently pulled out my mother's (and her mother's?) cast iron skillet, de-dusted it and use it regularly. I love it for sausage/eggs on Sunday morning. It ain't perty but it works real good!

        2. I failed to mention the other problem with using any kind of wok. Unless you have a commercial stove with a burner that puts out 20,000 btu's or more, you just can't get the heat adequate to stir fry properly in a wok. Better yet is a gas wok ring or a turky/fish fryer burner, to which a support ring has been added. with that you can really stir fry right. otherwise, you're better off using a good heavy skillet.

          2 Replies
          1. re: chazzerking

            Yes, a lot of stoves have pretty poor options for woks. A lot of Gas stoves made by companies which are based in North America build burners that are sealed and single ring of gas (which leaves a large bald spot in the centre of the wok - which is poor design). A lot of the lower end only go as high as around 8,000 - 10,000 BTU. Then on top of that they have a "wok ring" that then sits on top of the grates and holds the pans so far away from the heat - you really have a hard time cooking. After a lot of research (looking at different stoves, etc. which were 30inch wide), I decided to get a Wolf range with the dual ring open style of burners (around 15,000 BTU). I then bought the grates that are for woks - and don't sit on top of the grates - so I get a lot of heat for cooking with woks. I am very happy with my decision since the wok being able to handle the wok is very important to me (Thai cuisine is my favourite).

          2. Stick with carbon steel, or (the more traditional route) -- cast iron... not amarican cast iron (i.e. lodge, thick heavy stuff), but thinner cast iron. Pick up (or go to Barnes and Nobles) and read "Breath of a Wok" great book. As for cooking, I've got to echo previously voiced concerns, you nned heat!! Try one of these out:

            1 Reply
            1. re: mateo21

              I have 2 cast iron woks that I bought in China town many years ago, and just recently brought back 3 (2 medium sized, one small sized) carbon-steel works from Thailand. Most of the cooking schools that I have attended in Thailand have typically used the single handle carbon steel woks. I have used both and both are fine, but I think I prefer the single handled carbon steel woks. I have only used them a couple of times though (since I brought them back about a week ago), so it might just be the novelty :p