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buying a wok

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what makes a good wok?

if you were making a checklist to ensure someone wasn't buying a terd (roughly 90% of consumer products are garbage that falls apart and status symbol junk), what would be on it?

do you need (or ever use) a lid?
is a long handle bad for some reason?
why do cast iron woks even exist?

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  1. Carbon steel.

    Lid? Yes, nice to have.

    Now pick it up. Feel comfortable in your hand? Too heavy? Find another one. Too light? Keep looking. Get one that you can pick up and work with -- with ease.

    It's a piece of cookware. Not a wedding dress. Don't sweat it too much.

    1. <what makes a good wok?>

      Carbon steel and thin cast iron are both good. I prefer carbon steel. It should be more than 1 mm thick, but does not have to be thicker than 3 mm. A hand hammered wok is great. I have one.

      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8348...

      <if you were making a checklist to ensure someone wasn't buying a terd>

      It somewhat depends what you want to do with a wok. If you want nonstick, but don't mind cooking at low temperatures, then you can even use a nonstick Teflon wok. If you like to cook watery food, and rarely cook proteins (meats), then you can even use a stainless steel surface wok. However, if we are talking about real Chinese wok cooking with high heat and tossing food, then you really need to go for carbon steel woks. The real first question for yourself is: What do you want to do? That you have to answer for yourself.

      <do you need (or ever use) a lid?
      is a long handle bad for some reason?
      why do cast iron woks even exist?>

      Lid -- nice to have.
      A long handle -- there are two styles of wok. The Cantonese (Southern) style and the Peking (northen) style. I don't know what you like.
      Cast iron exist because it is one of the two best material for woks. The better question is: Why does an enameled cast iron wok exist? Or Why does a copper wok exit?

      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/316761

      1. I prefer cast iron. Be aware that there are two types: the massive, sometimes porcelain coated so-called woks (like those made by Le Creuset) that in fact should not exist, and Chinese style cast iron woks that are wafer thin and every bit as good as steel.

        As for long the long handle, if you want to toss the food by flipping it in the air like a fried egg, you need a long handle. Otherwise, either style will do.

        Lid. If you want to use your wok as a steamer. Otherwise, no.

        And don't even think about getting a non-stick wok. High heat and chemical coatings do not play well together.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Zeldog

          <sometimes porcelain coated so-called woks (like those made by Le Creuset) that in fact should not exist>

          Maybe it is not illegal, but definitely immoral.

          http://www.amazon.com/Le-Creuset-4-75...

          P.S.: You know sometime is seriously messedup when a wok is described in volume (Quarts)

          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

            I know what you mean, I have an LC bare cast iron wok, not like the one in the photo, and while it is morally dubious it suits me. Perhaps because it's morally dubious it suits me.

            And on your PS, reading this site down in Australia when people talk of quarts etc for LC and other dutch ovens really confuses me. All the pots we have down here have the circumference on them and no mention of volume. I'm old enough to be able to immediately convert inches to cm but volume eludes me, especially when I have no idea of the volume in any unit.

        2. The original comment has been removed
          1. I thought the reason to use cast iron woks is because most home ranges don't get hot enough to really wok but you can get the same effect with cast iron because cast iron does such a good job retaining heat.

            1 Reply
            1. re: SeaKoz

              Not for thin cast iron. For thick cast iron, then what you said is true. For thin cast iron, you aren't going to get that much more heat capacity. So the whole idea of "storing heat" in the cookware does not apply.