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May 6, 2009 08:05 PM

Finding a carbon steel wok pan without nonstick coating

WANTED: carbon steel wok pan, no added nonstick coating.

I'd like to find one of these low to midrange in cost. As I understand it, repeated use makes it somewhat nonstick, but I'm having some difficulty finding one that doesn't also have nonstick coating added to it. (Some labels say there's coating added, others just call them nonstick so I'm not sure if it has the coating or not.)

Any recommendations, and also what stores carry the brand you're recommending? (I'd like to see it in real life before I buy.)


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  1. I don't know if Surfas still carries it, but they used to have the Vollrath Stir Fry pan recommended by the chefs at Beacon ( I bought mine online (got a "seconds" actually with cosmetic damage that soon cooked off) and I absolutely love it. Because it's smaller than the ones I used to buy in Chinatown and San Gabriel, it doesn't gunk up at less than restaurant-level heat but is plenty big enough for a meal for 2-4.

    2 Replies
    1. re: ronke

      That looks nice - thank you. It also gives me an excuse to stop in at Surfas again. :)

      1. re: Cinnamon

        These were available at a local restaurant supply store in Milwaukee. The wok is shipped in a poly bag covered with preservative oil. Absolutely no teflon or any other coating. As you can see available from 12 to 30 inch diameter.

        The wood handles that come with the pow woks are pretty bad -- avoid unless you want to spend time to fiddle with and get them right.

    2. Any Chinese supermarket has the "cheapo" carbon steel woks without a non-stick coating. You can usually get them for around $10 depending on the size. They aren't "branded", just plain carbon steel woks. The thicker the guage of carbon steel the more expensive but probably still under $20.
      If there are Chinese restaurant supply places in your area they will have them too.


      you could order on-line from
      The Wok Shop
      718 Grant Ave
      San Francisco, CA 94108
      (415) 989-3797

      6 Replies
      1. re: monku

        Thanks.. I'm in L.A. over on the west side, don't get to Chinatown often though. There are some Japanese grocers not far away but Chinatown would no doubt be quite a bit cheaper - possibly Surfas too. Thanks for the wok shop link, good fallback if I don't find the right one locally.

        1. re: Cinnamon

          99 Ranch Markets have good selection(Van Nuys & Gardena)
          Understand being on the west side.

          If you want to get adventurous there are a number of Chinese restaurant supply places just on the outskirts of Chinatown and in Alhambra and Monterey Park.

          I've always had the cheap carbon steel kind and they last forever.

          1. re: Cinnamon

            Wal-mart usually has them. (And, hey, it's something you actually want a cheap chinese made version of !)

              1. re: dscheidt

                I don't think I've ever seen carbon steel woks at Wal Mart.


                1. re: monku

                  I have. bought one, even. Works fine. crappy wooden handles, and all.

          2. The original comment has been removed
            1. There are at least three shops downtown that have carbon steel woks:
              Super Home Mart:
              Oriental Palace:
              IIRC Oriental Palace has a smaller one, for those of us with NYC size kitchens.

              I just browsed the new Costco Business Center in Hawthorne
              and they have a wok that looks pretty well made.
              Most of the Asian markets around here have woks but I haven't kept track of those that have good carbon steel ones.

              If possible, find one that does Not have a flat bottom.

              3 Replies
              1. re: DiveFan

                Thank you very much. Nice Chow list by the way! I've run into a few more questions now. What are the benefits of no-flat-bottom? (We have a gas range, so could use a round bottom.) Also, how high-sided does anyone like their wok to be, and what size is most convenient if you're cooking for two and are not a bodybuilder?

                The very useful Anolon Titanium nonstick stir-fry pan we have now has a round inside but slightly flat bottom. It's the pan I use for almost everything, but I'm looking for a carbon steel wok for very high heat, no nonstick coating and partly due to my interest in the occasional flambe. That pan is here:

                I did just see a carbon steel wok at Target, 14" I think. It did not have the little handle that you sometimes see at the opposite edge of the regular handle. Our stir-fry pan has a little handle like that and it's been very useful. The wok I saw at Target was quite heavy, so I'm pretty sure I'll want whatever wok I get to have some little handle in addition to a pan handle. Given the weight of the 14" I'm thinking going a little smaller on the wok could be a good thing.

                1. re: Cinnamon

                  Hi Cinnamon. Just did a bunch of research on Woks for my own purchase. I ended up getting a Carbon Steel Wok from the Wok Shop (referenced above) as it was local. Benefits of the round bottom are that the food is easier to toss and stir fry in a round bottom -- in a flat bottom the food can get stuck or overcook in the little ridge where the pan makes a transition from flat to round.

                  Definitely get a LIGHT wok. The benefits of Wok cooking are that the heat gets tot he food quickly -- not so if your wok walls are super thick, i.e. a Calphalon type. One benefit I do see to the opposite handle is balance -- my current new wok has only a handle on one side, and the wok tends to slide off balance when in the wok ring on the burner. Can even out once there's food in the wok to balance it, but a minor annoyance.

                  Definitely, do some research and season your wok as soon as you get it. You'll have to do this with a cast iron or carbon steel wok (your two best options). Don't be afraid of cast iron, it's actually very light as the wok itself is so thin.

                  As for size if you cook mostly for yourself or up to 4 people, they ercommended a 14" wok for me. If you entertain or are routinely cooking for 6 or more, go bigger. For us, storage is an issue and MOST of the time we're cooking for two so we went with 14". I'm enjoying it so far though I did burn my first dish (not enough seasoning of the surface). Back to square one for me!

                  Best of luck -- you're on the right track with getting a carbon steel no-teflon wok.

                  1. re: Cinnamon

                    stomsf is correct on the benefits of a smaller, carbon steel, rounded bottom wok.
                    I'll add that the rounded bottom prevents stewing by concentrating the heat, you are more likely to get that wok 'flavor'.
                    My wok is the 'standard' 14" size. A little unwieldy but it has good room to stage veggies with different cooking times. It also makes a handy, small capacity deep fryer (less oil needed).
                    Reseasoning a carbon steel wok is pretty much like a cast iron pan but less fussy. I do it outside since I don't have a vent fan.

                2. For those who have stability issues with a round-bottomed wok--If you have a gas stove with normal removable grates and don't have a wok grate, which can sometimes be found on fancier ranges or ranges aimed particularly at Asian customers, look in your local Asian market in the wok section for an iron wok grate, which can replace the normal grate on the burner when you're using the wok. It's WAY more solid than a wok ring, and I found one for $6.

                  I've posted a photo here--


                  2 Replies
                  1. re: David A. Goldfarb

                    Brilliant. Hopefully ours won't need it, but if it does, I'll get one.

                    1. re: David A. Goldfarb

                      I'll have to check that out - I had bought a wok ring, but found that the wok actually performed better directly on the grate on top of the burner.