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Nov 7, 2010 10:11 PM

13" peking pan: is it a good size?

I found a peking pan whose construction I liked at my local Asian store. It is Japanese made and the handle is part of the wok itself (not welded or riveted, except when it folds back onto itself to become a round handle), which is what I liked. It also has a round bottom which is what I was looking for.

The one pan that my store had is 33 cm in diameter, i.e. 13 inches. I would cook for 1 to 4 most of the time, and it seems that the size would be okay, but I could return the 33 cm and get a 36 cm online for the same price shipped. Is it worth it? Or will my 13" be fine? If I then love woking so much that I want to do it for company, it seems that I'd then want a 16" and not a 14", and then the two sizes would complement each other?

I have barely used a wok before (the Ikea one) and look forward to using a better one, but am not sure about the size. It also seems that size is a reflection of culture: a Thai site said "get a 16" it's good for one as well as eight;" Half the European sites (where kitchens are smaller) say "30 to 32 cm is a good size" while some others say "get a 35 cm" (~ 13 3/4), and in America, home of the ubiquitous big stove (I hone myself :p) people say "14" is a minimum!"

I'm confused :)

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  1. I mostly cook for 2-4 with leftovers and use a 14" wok. I would say that you should choose a 14" one at a minimum and then decide if you need a bigger one if you entertain a lot. A disclaimer, though- I am an ABC (American-born Chinese) and thus your observation above holds true :)

    1. Hi Dr. Crash, I was in the same dilemma, smaller or larger. I opted for the slightly smaller wok. I do think that it would depend more on the actual heat output and size of your stove/burner. You don't want to get one that's too big for the amount of fire power your stove can produce. Otherwise you will NOT be stir frying, but instead will be stir-steaming. Common problem with stoves/burners that don't produce enough heat to actually stir-fry. So adjust your wok to your stove, not the other way around.

      You can always move up later if you find it too small. Besides, too much food in a wok will cool it off, and make tossing difficult as well. I suppose that the reason you got the Beijing/Peking pan was for tossing? Otherwise the Cantonese style with the two metal loop handles would do just fine. But you can toss food with that as well. just need more skill and a bigger oven mitt/glove.

      1. Your basic actual cooking area is going to be roughly the same size either way, and will have more to do with the type of burner you have and the curve of a pan than its diameter. With all but the very highest output home stoves (heck, even with them), it's going to be hard to get the pan hot enough for good wok cooking.

        I think smaller is better, assuming we're talking about a home stove indoors. Just don't crowd the pan too much.

        I believe ours is a 14", and we're usually cooking for 2 people.