HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >

Discussion

Hand Hammered Wok from E-Wok Review

Sternbean and I have recently bought a couple of hand-hammered woks from e-wok:

http://e-woks.com/
http://stores.ebay.com/taost/Hammered...

Sternbean’s post can be found here:

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8318...

Here are some of the photos I have taken for this hand hammered wok. The first photo is the wok after the initial scrubbing/cleaning. The second photo is the wok after the baked out, first seasoning and oiling. The third and the fourth are close-up photos which show the hand hammered marks. The fifth and final photo shows my stir fried rice (salted fish with chicken fried rice).

This is a true authentic hand-hammered wok, and it is by far the best wok I have ever had. Nothing comes remotely close, and I have used and seasoned a few woks. I am very impressed. I am not saying this because it is a good looking wok, which it is. I am saying this, because it is truly a high performance wok. The thickness is just right. The shape is of the classic Peking (Northern) pow wok. It seasoned very easily. I only seasoned it once, and I was able to make fried rice with no sticking. As you could see from the photo, the fried rice came out fluffy without sticking to each other and forming crumbs. In contrast, I have used the Williams Sonoma wok for two weeks and foods still stick to it slightly. This hand hammered wok is also better than the USA made carbon steel woks from wokshop. Those are good woks, but cannot be compared to this one.

These hand hammered woks are $44 or so. Unfortunately, the shipping and handling cost quite a bit. I ended up paying for $72. It took almost two weeks to arrive. If you are in the market for a good quality hand hammered wok, then you should consider this one.

 
 
 
 
 
  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. What's your heat source? I would love to make fried rice like that!

    18 Replies
    1. re: pabboy

      "What's your heat source?"

      Thanks. Believe it or not. I used the worst of worst: electric (I am renting an apartment). It is possible to make decent fried rice even on an electric stove. It just takes a bit more patience and practice. I can not wait to use this wok on a gas stove and see it kicks asses.

      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

        Now I'm totally befuddled.

        A round bottom wok on an electric stove? Are you using a wok ring? Does anything come in contact with the heating element?

        Before I was impressed with your fried rice. Now totally amazed!

        1. re: pabboy

          Yes, a wok ring. No, it does not come in contact of the heating element, but it gets very close.

          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

            I was in a similar situation. I found one supplier of home induction wok hotplates here in Thailand (found it at a very large Robinsons) - probably from a Chinese source. It did not support a Thai style (one handed wok) since the base was not shallow enough, but it supported the two handed chinese style woks. I was in a similar situation because my building has very poor electric hobs. I just turned the hob off at the fuse-panel then but the induction hotplate on top of the electric hob..... it has been good enough for now. So somewhere out there there is at least one manufacturer building induction hotplates that support round bottom woks - don't know of a north american supplier but there must be one. Local cost is between $150 and $200. Not perfect but it does heat up very hot very quickly. I have seen professional induction drop in woks for condo's or professional kitchens but could not afford it (plus it would require changing my rental property).

            1. re: cacruden

              cacruden, does your unit look something like the one pictured below? This is of a Adcraft unit available here in the states for around $250 or so...

               
              1. re: toddster63

                Looks like a little higher quality make actually (also your wok looks in better shape - but mine works great anyways). It gets up to 2000watts of power which is much better than most (average priced/common) kitchen ranges (non-induction). The electric burners (underneath) took probably 2 minutes to heat up (very slow) - induction almost immediate. Not having an oven though -- induction made it almost impossible to dewax/season.... had to bring it out to a friends place in the country side originally to do that (without liquid in it it heats up until it glows and the safety heat sensor kicks the unit off).

                 
                1. re: cacruden

                  That's not my unit, it's of another online woker's setup—and I don't like the silly "hammer" pattern on the wok, and it's way too new and UN-seasoned. Your wok looks great, cacruden. Nicely seasoned and used! Thanks for sharing—your unit looks great. I'm not surprised you have such nice wok induction units at reasonable prices in Thailand with all the woking there...!

                  1. re: toddster63

                    You guys are really getting me interested in an induction wok unit. I will buy a house one day, and I would love to have a wok unit. A gas stove wok unit or an induction wok unit? I can see advantages for either. Gas is more conventional and is a proven technology, and will work very well even if the wok is routinely lifted (for tossing). Induction will be much cleaner, and require a smaller ventilation system. Less heat in the kitchen, and possibly less noise (tough to say on this one).

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      Gas is always better for woks. Can't have gas in my unit, and hob is poor at best so this was the best option I had available. I never toss my wok on this unit. Induction will not be "much" cleaner and the ventilation system would have to be the same - though the heat itself would likely be lesser. When cooking on a high power wok you are "vaporizing" a lot of oil, and that is what the ventilation system has to be able to handle (you will notice it much more if you toss chilies into hot oil - it will sometimes feel like you are getting hit with a wall of mace)...

                      1. re: cacruden

                        I agree. I've been woking outdoors with a propane burner for 3 years now, doing stir-fries at up to 50K BTU's. Lately I have been really attracted to stir-frying indoors, and have been re-examing flat bottoms on my electric stove and considering the induction wok burner too...

                        But so far it's been hard. When you get your wok up to almost 700F, and stir-fries are done in 60-90 seconds, (and your wok turns inky black within 6 months) you really get hooked. But then again, it's a PITA to haul everything—veggies, marinating meat, sauce, garlic, ginger—outside and get it all inline and organized...!

                        But then, over the stove with a flat-bottom, a stir-fry takes like 5 minutes to complete and tastes a little bit more "stewed" for lack of a better adjective...

                        1. re: toddster63

                          <it's a PITA to haul everything—veggies, marinating meat, sauce, garlic, ginger—outside and get it all inline and organized...!>

                          No kidding. I cannot imagine cooking outdoor all the time. I have to prep everything before hand? and not to forget anything? Man, you should see how I cook. I always forget garlic here, ginger there... and I would often start cutting while the wok was cooking something else. :P

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            In a warm climate (as in here), I could and would cook outdoors all the time here if I had the outdoor area. I would just setup a stainless steel countertop near the wok and put a fridge outside near it. It would have some shelter over but open, and I would have a small LCD tv outside as well, as well as a picnic table for eating. Inside I would keep a separate drink fridge.

                            1. re: cacruden

                              The problem occurs when you have half a kitchen in one area, and half in another area :p

                              1. re: cacruden

                                Now, just imagine people with two wives (two separate families). :P

                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                  Fairly common here as well.... but not two full wives, one full wife and "minor wives". Personally, I find one (none right now) more than enough I would find having more than one (at the same time) to be way to complicating.... :p

                                  1. re: cacruden

                                    < Personally, I find one (none right now) more than enough>

                                    Agree. :P (Male bonding -- you and me)

                              2. re: cacruden

                                Hu cacruden -

                                This is exactly what we have done, sans Fridge.

                                Years ago I gave my parents our BBQ cooking island, which was tiled to my wife's specifications, had a side burner, and two double stainless doors for equipment.

                                The ne noticed that our BBQ with two wings and a side burner was becoming too small.

                                We cook outdoors today quite often (weather permitting) and bought and assembled a small stainless table with a shelf below. This was purchased from a Chef's supply firm nearby. It accommodates BBQ items, a Pizza Oven (gas fired), and when the Pizza oven is stored below, a surface for Wok prep and cooking on the gas side burner.

                                Bringing prep bowls of wok items is not a problem, considering that the main benefit is the odors and cooking smoke stays outside the house. As in fish, shrimp, chili, and hot oil. We also invert the wok ring on the side burner to bring it closer to the gas on a cold Winter's day and to control the wok more from moving around.

                                A glass of something in hand, perhaps a bit of music playing, with all your tools, prep items and wok sizzling away is enjoyable.

                          2. re: cacruden

                            <When cooking on a high power wok you are "vaporizing" a lot of oil, and that is what the ventilation system has to be able to handle >

                            Excellent point. You are correct.

        2. Congrats Chem - looks beautiful - enjoy!!

          It looks solid - all the mass produced carbon steel woks, northern or southern style, I have seen in the stores that I haunt are very thin - they flex - what about yours??

          12 Replies
          1. re: rosetown

            This one is thick enough that it does not easily flex. Well, if I push it hard, I can flex it, but it does not flex under normal operation or cleaning in the sink.

            It is much stiffer than the so called US made carbon steel wok from the wokshop and the Williams Sonoma wok.

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              Do you mean Wokshop hand hammered wok? (They have two. One is listed has Wokshop hand hammered wok which very regular pattern and other is just listed as hand hammered). I received the following wok today.

              http://wokshop.stores.yahoo.net/wok2s...

              A 14 inch flat bottom wok from 14 gauge steel is quite stiff which is close to 2mm thick. I will think a 1.5 mm wok will be less stiff unless made with harden able steel.

              1. re: tanvir

                I have had a couple of woks from the Wokshop which were advertized to be 14 gauge. You would think they should be closer to 2 mm, but they were definitely closer to 1.5 mm. Let me know if yours is different.

                Its so called hand hammered wok is actually pretty thick. I just don't like it for other reasons.

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  I took out the micrometer and stand corrected. The wok is 1.5mm +- few hundredths. I feel it appears to be stiffer than round bottom is because of six inch or so flat surface. The arc of the parabola will be larger on the round bottom and the hands has greater leverage.

                  You are right, I just assumed that 14 gauge means =~ 2mm thickness.

                  1. re: tanvir

                    Sound good. As long as the wok is stiff, then you are fine. A lighter wok is easier to maneuver, so it is good. Thanks for the update.

                    1. re: tanvir

                      The gauge of the steel really is kinda dependent on your heat source. Those thicker 14 gauge woks from the Wok Shop (made in the USA), have a thick padding of steel on the bottom that really holds heat, and for weaker electrical stoves, it can really make all the difference. I tried to use a Ken Hom flat bottom wok that was not thicker with padded steel on the bottom (it was stamped from one uniform sheet of 1.5mm steel), and I was shocked at how fast it cooled down when moderately loaded on my electrical coil stove--much weaker performance the the thick padded bottomed USA made woks the Wok Shop sells...!

                      1. re: toddster63

                        We enjoyed Kenneth Hom on BBC when I worked in London, and living on a budget as an engineer there, his style of cooking appealed to us being thrifty with meals and food budgets. His emphasis, then as now, centered on a wok that heated & cooled quickly.

                        I did buy one of his early woks, and it did heat up and cool down quickly. Heading back to Switzerland I found it cooled down too quickly for Winters there. I had been looking for an alternative ever since.

                        Along comes a stint in Southern California, where I saw a stainless steel wok being used for the first time by Wolfgang Puck. Glass lid, large, and alu core, it heated about the same time up, but kept our meal warmer longer. It was packed back home too.

                        That was followed by the large Rösle 35cm wok, and the 21 cm AEG, both which are stainless, induction compliant and the heaviest of the group. They clean well, do not stick, and the Rösle is the BBQ / Induction unit for a large dinner with guests.

                        Remarkably, all of our woks are still being used at one time or another, including the one from the UK. I say this as they do hold up with care, and the first was probably purchased before Jeremy Pang, who we also like to watch, had even been born.

                        1. re: SWISSAIRE

                          Yes, I'm a big Hom fan too... Not too many Americans are familiar with him, which is a shame. His documentary of modern China and it's changing cuisine from a few years ago with Ching-He Huang was truly as they called it a culinary adventure. I don't think PBS ever showed it in the US, but you can watch it on YouTube... We are more familar with Ching-He Huang and her shows on Cooking Channel here in the US, and I greatly enjoy her as well. She has the same up attitude as Hom and just makes me smile...!

                          I love my stainless wok for steaming (mainly to make Chow Fun noodles from scratch), but I could never stir fry in it--the extra flavor (or wok hei) that the carbonized surface of seasoned steel/iron has just become too crucial to my taste buds. I even fry exclusively in my DeBuyer steel skillets now--eggs, fish... The stainless is good to steam rice in, though, or make oatmeal...

                          1. re: toddster63

                            I have one of Kenneth Hom's books in German, circa 1999, which he autographed, entitled " Kochen mit der Wok. " Really a nice chap, with OBE no less.

                            The word "fusion" is used liberally throughout. We have tried every one of the recipes in it at least once, most being a success. To my knowledge he remains popular in the UK and Germany, but is not well known in France. Perhaps owning a home in the South of France he wishes to reside there " under the radar, " when he is not in Thailand.

                            His BBC show on Exploring China we much admired, but having been to Kashgar years ago, I think he took a bit of a chance going there. This is the kind of trip you do when you are young !

                             
                          2. re: SWISSAIRE

                            Swissaire,

                            I'm less than thrilled with my cheap steel stir fry pan (I warped it during seasoning, all my fault) and given my longtime love for stainless, I wouldn't mind a stainless wok, except for all the people who say it's a terrible pan for stir fry.

                            Would you mind describing how you use your various stainless woks? What kind of heat, etc... how easily do they clean? I'm concerned about cooked-on oil on the walls, which can be a bear to remove. Do you prefer your stainless woks over the others?

                            Thanks! I'll be your best friend and take you to the circus. :)

                            1. re: DuffyH

                              Morgen DuffyH-

                              Stainless Steel Woks:

                              1. Rösle Multi-layer, alu core, 35 cm, induction, round bottom, heavy. Not seasoned.

                              2. AEG Fusion, multi, alu,core, 21 cm, induction, round bottom, light. Not seasoned.

                              3. Bistro-tek, multi, not induction, 28 cm, light, flat bottom, glass lid. It may actually be a Tramontina from Brasil. Not seasoned.

                              The first two were purchased in Germany, the second was a gift. The Rösle and the Bistro-tek are used for large meals with guests, while the AEG is used primarily for 1-2 people.

                              Medium to Medium High Heat setting, to sizzle. The AEG cooktop is that efficient. Gaz on the outdoor side-burner is turned on high.

                              Observations:

                              1. The first two woks sit on an induction-compatible trivet, very sculptural, that conducts the induction energy through the trivet to the side walls of the wok to heat.

                              Note that the bottom of both woks never actually touch the induction cooktop. We first saw the AEG trivet demonstrated at the Frankfurt trade show, or Messe, and was an eye opener. And as it remains cool, both the wok and trivet can be taken off the cooktop, and placed on a dining table, if you want to serve directly there.

                              2. My experience is that although the Stainless woks heat up a bit slower, they remain hotter, keeping the food warm. Up here this is important. I rarely have to remove food from the woks unless I do not want it to overcook.

                              3. OIL: We used what is called pressed nut oil, similar to peanut oil. I am not sure if it is 100% peanut oil, but following Kenneth Hom's advice, we keep the amount of oil used to the minimum, and again, these woks require no seasoning.

                              There is no burning, nor brown or black marks on the inside of any of the woks after cooking. Only get the wok heated, add the oil on the side walls of the wok, and add items to be cooked in stages. Our overhead exhaust fan is always on when we cook, so most airborne lipoids are drawn out.

                              4. OIL USE: Clearly the flat bottom wok uses more oil than a round bottom wok

                              5. SPLATTER: Only once interestingly enough, when we used a large jar of very moist garlic paste from Migros, instead of mincing garlic as we normally do. Little white spots on the wok and cooktop, but easily cleaned up. Only minced aromatics are used now in our wok cooking.

                              6. STEAMING: Unless it is something small such as rice paper wrapped fish, we do not use the woks to steam. For that we use a Rösle Brater or stainless roasting pan with a Steam insert, or Dämpfeinsatz.

                              7. CLEAN-UP: When the stainless cools, the woks are rinsed in the sink, and later hand washed. If something burned inside, the soaking lifts it, and it cleans with a soap sponge or a small brush, and then hung to dry.

                              The big 35 cm is used out on the BBQ side burner often. That is gaz fired using a wok ring, and a year later there are a few scratches but no burning or dis-colouring whatsoever.

                              We do not use abrasives including Bar Tenders K on the woks, as there is no need. After washing, a drop of oil is rubbed in to the interior, and the woks are stored away, one on top of each other, separated by a paper towel. The wok hanging to dry in the photo is 1 year + old.

                              Yes, they could be cleaned in a dish washer, but aren't

                              I think you would find that induction cooktop can heat a suitable wok very well and quickly. Our selection of round bottomed woks might look like the wrong decision with induction, but we like the efficiency and found a way to use them.

                              Do I prefer German Terra Cotta, or Stainless Steel ? If it is good quality 18/10, then Guilty as charged.

                              I hope this is helpful.

                               
                               
                               
                              1. re: SWISSAIRE

                                <After washing, a drop of oil is rubbed in to the interior, and the woks are stored away,...>

                                Thank you, Swissair. I'm a fan of seasoning my stainless steel, just never thought to apply it to stir fry. I appreciate the timely reminder.

                                I'll perfect my technique in my Vollrath Tribute saucier. It's only 2 qts, so too small for a proper one pan stir fry, but just about right for batch cooking. It's got a wicked thick aluminum layer, making it very forgiving. It should prove an ideal practice pan. Sadly, neither the AEG nor Rosle pans seem to be available in the USA. But I've got time, others will come along.

                                <If it is good quality 18/10, then Guilty as charged.>

                                This is me, as well. I've got some carbon steel, but they're mostly used for breakfast items, grilled sandwiches and shallow frying. I've got a pair of cast iron pans that I hardly ever use. I'm thinking of making pizza in them, just to see if I can't find a good use for them.

                                For my every day cooking, from searing to sauces, it's the stainless steel that I'm most comfortable with, and it's what I reach for. It never disappoints, no matter what I ask of it.

                                You are ever helpful, thanks. :)

              2. I was going to buy a 12" pow wok at $48 but the shipping would have been another $32. That's just obscene. Apparently they are shipping from China one wok at a time. No thanks, E-woks. Let me know when you have an outlet in the US.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Zeldog

                  The shipping fee is a lot in comparison, but it is probably more meaningful to look at the final price vs final performance.

                  ~$80 for a hand made hand hammered high quality wok is not a lot. People easily spend >$200 for a Le Cresuset Dutch Oven or an All Clad saute pan.

                  Certainly this $80 hand hammered wok beats the heck out of this $350 copper wok in term of price and of performance -- despite the "free shipping" offer for the copper wok:

                  http://www.amazon.com/Mauviel-MHerita...

                  1. re: Zeldog

                    Hi, Zeldog:

                    Let me try to make you feel better. Try buying copper from sellers in France--shipping typically adds $60-80.

                    Aloha,
                    Kaleo

                  2. Excellent - just the kind of info I was looking for. I ordered one (one handle style) today (seller taost on Ebay). I was going to get the pow wok from the Wok Shop but this one looks like the real deal -- not a bunch of dimples hammered into after manufacture.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: o_pinon

                      "Excellent - just the kind of info I was looking for. I ordered one (one handle style) today (seller taost on Ebay). I was going to get the pow wok from the Wok Shop but this one looks like the real deal -- not a bunch of dimples hammered into after manufacture."

                      I don't know if I mentioned this. The ebay seller taost is the same person responsible for the e-wok. They are selling the same things from the same group.

                      I actually have the Wokshop hammered wok as well. This hand hammered wok from Shanghai China is better. Not only it is more traditional, but it has better geometry and everything.

                      I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Let us know your experience.

                    2. I just bought one of these for a friend.

                      Just curious, did yours have a few "duller" spots where it seems a shiny coating has been scraped off? I'm hoping this is just some kind of coating that's meant to protect the wok during shipping and handling, but I've never owned a wok myself so I really don't know.

                      I'm happy to say I've had a good experience with the seller so far... I don't want meant to discourage anyone from buying or imply that there's anything wrong. I just want to make sure the wok is ok before I give it to my friend!

                       
                       
                       
                      10 Replies
                      1. re: affodil

                        I have definitely seen a couple spots closed to your photo #3 especially on the exterior of the wok. I have not seen the case for photo #1. It really does not matter much in the big picture because I ended up scrubbing and cleaning the wok before seasoning, and I think your friend should too.

                        My first uploaded photo is the wok after it has been scrubbed clean.

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          Thanks. That helps me put my mind at ease. May I ask what you scrubbed yours with? Ewoks says not to use anything abrasive but over here (http://www.culinate.com/articles/feat...) Grace Young is using something like steel wool! :O

                          1. re: affodil

                            I used steel wool just because I have one, but I do agree that anything abrasive work too, like those green pads may work as well.

                            http://www.theyhaveit.com/catalog/pad...

                            Steel wool is just easier if you have them because they won't fall apart like the green pads do sometime. Since this is a gift for your friend, you probably should let your friend scrubs it, not yourself.

                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                I have seen bamboo wok cleaners that are used.... look very good for that use, but I find that I don't have anything too sticky that a cloth will not remove.... so have not bought one (probably sold in Chinese stores in America).

                                1. re: cacruden

                                  It is just a little nice to have if foods stick to the wok. An pastry scraper also work too. Like you said, you can always buy a bamboo brush in an Asian supermarket or a Chinese restaurant supply store.

                          2. re: affodil

                            I wanted to follow up to say that the seller (taost on ebay) just got back to me and he (or she, not sure) agrees that once it's cleaned and seasoned the wok should be fine. :)

                            1. re: affodil

                              :) I think it is a dude, but I could be wrong.

                              Yes, once it is cleaned and seasoned then it should be fine. That shiny surface you see does not matter in the long run because in the long run, it is the seasoning surface which is to protect and enhanced the cooking performance. Afterall, we are supposed to scrap that surface off anyway before the seasoning process.

                              Is your friend a dedicated cook? If so, he/she should like this wok. It is actually a well made wok with with dimension. On top, it is a hand-hammered wok, which gives it a very artistic twist.

                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                Yes, he is. And the hand-hammerd part is what made me choose it. I looked all over the internet and couldn't find anything quite like it. Thanks for the review!

                                1. re: affodil

                                  My pleasure. I hope he finds as much joy as I did with this wok. If he is experienced with carbon steel or cast iron cookware, then he should find no time in adapting this cookware. If no, then there are plenty good videos on youtube and elsewhere regarding the seasoning process. Good luck.