Need a wok- any recs?
I have a nonstick wok where the nonstick has started flaking off, so it's time for a new one.
Looking for a good, sturdy carbon steel that can take a lot of heat. (I have a gas stove). I don't know of many stores near me that carry them (NJ) so I went on Wok Shop site and look at their selection. Very nice, but a few different types to choose from.
Ive seen hand-hammered, and machine pressed. Also, some opf the hand-hammered have the hammer marks in them. Any benefit?
I live in San Francisco and recently bought a 14" flat bottom with long wood handle and small wood at opposite side -- from the Wok Shop here. They are really nice people there! I have a gas stove; they recommended a flat bottom .. I think it's easier to handle than a round one with a ring. They give you a handout on how to season it. I also have the seasoning instructions in Grace Young's "Breath of a Wok." Same thing.
So, I'm happy with mine.
You can't go wrong with the Wok Shop. I live in SF and have visited the shop a couple of times and gained a little wok knowledge from the very helpful owners. You have a gas stove, so forget the flat bottomed woks. Your choices, aside from type of handle, are steel, hammered steel, or cast iron. Don't be fooled by the term "hand hammered". Look at the price ($2 or $3 more than a stamped wok), and the symmetrical pattern of the dents. Nobody whacked a sheet of metal with a ball peen hammer for hours on end to make those woks. The "hand" part apparently means someone lifted a stamped wok from the forming press and put it into a hydraulic hammer press by hand. I've never used one, so I can't say there's no advantage to it compared to a basic steel wok, but don't think you're getting a hand crafted item.
You should consider a cast iron wok, which is what I use now.
Don't think clunky western style frying pans or that stupid le Creuset wok. These woks are very thin, perhaps 1/8 inch on the bottom and 1/16 inch near the top. Heat response is similar to steel, as is the weight. Advantages: Very easy to season and maintain the seasoning, and the rough surface lets you push items up the sides to low heat areas and they will stay there. Also much prettier. Disadvantage: more brittle than steel, so don't drop it.
I live in NJ. You can go to Phily Chinatown or Asian supermarket for a carbon steel wok. The selection in the supermarkets will be very limited. I have been using the Wokshop woks forever. I am originally from California and moved to New Jersey.
I have only had used this version:
I had bought the same versions 3 times.
I think the hand-hammered aspect is just to be cool to have. I have read that some articles that hand hammered ones are in fact better because they are multiple layers, but I don't understand why multi-layers are better for a wok.... From wikipedia:
"The lowest quality woks tend to be single ply and stamped straight from a piece of steel. These woks have a higher tendency to deform and misshape. Cooking with them is also more difficult and precarious since they often have a "hot spot". Higher quality woks are almost always "hand hammered" and made of two sheets of carbon steel which are formed into shape by "ring-forming" or hand forging"
Personally, I think if you avoid buying a very thin wok, then it does not matter if it is hand hammered or not.
Now, another question for you to think about is to get one with a long handle like these:
or to get a balanced handle wok:
I agree. A good old carbon steel wok is what you need. I have 3 and have had them between 25 & 35 years. I don't agree with Wiki. None of what it suggests has happened to mine. If you are using an electric cooktop get one with a flat bottom, those rings are useless. As round bottom can rest on a gas burner just fine.
I second The Wok Shop. I find that while you can get woks at local Chinese supermarkets, the selection is extremely limited and the quality/worksmanship is definitely not as good as The Wok Shop's.
I live in NYC, so kitchen space is precious to me. I own the exact wok here http://www.wokshop.com/HTML/products/... , at 12". The wok takes up little space and I can fit it in my sink (easier to clean). I cook for 2 people at most, so a 12" is perfect.
However, I think the most popular wok size is 14", with a long handle. It allows you to cook a larger quantity of food (3-4 people) and the long handle lets you manipulate the wok more easily. If space isn't an issue, I think a 14" wok with long handle is the best choice.