When you fire up the stovetop for dinner, which pan are you usually reaching for? A well-seasoned frying pan or a trusted saute pan are useful allies for a wide range of dishes. But, if you’re sauteing, frying, or simmering, you could be overlooking one of the most versatile pieces of cookware in your kitchen.
What is a Wok?
While many people reserve this kitchen tool for Asian-inspired stir-fries, the worldly wok is actually capable of so much more. The wok is a round or flat-bottomed cooking utensil designed with high sides. It was invented over 2,000 years ago, likely in or near China, as a way to evenly cook food for several people in a single vessel. Thanks to its clever design and large cooking surface, it requires little oil. Back when it was created, that feature helped to stretch precious cooking oil during a time of scarcity.
Benefits of using a Wok:
The wok is one of the most versatile cooking tools you can buy. Not only does it offer a simple one-pan meal with easy clean-up, but it excels at a vast range of diverse cooking methods such as stir-frying, searing, sauteing, deep frying, and more!
The most obvious difference between a wok and any other pan is its unique bowl shape and large size. The combination of these two features allows heat to be distributed more evenly than it could be in a saucepan. This means that food cooks in less time. For even cooking, the food needs to be able to move around with ease and have surface contact. Thanks to the high walls, food can be tossed easily with little to no spillover.
The wok is also the perfect tool for cooking lower-calorie meals since it was designed to require only a small amount of oil. It also has the unique ability to evenly coat all of your food during the cooking process, giving you and your guests the perfect bite, every time.
Related: Saute Pan Buying Guide
Why Carbon Steel for a Wok?
Experienced chefs, particularly skilled Asian food connoisseurs, love carbon steel because it’s heavy-duty, lighter in weight, naturally nonstick, and affordable. Its ability to conduct heat evenly offers peace of mind that your dish will be uniformly cooked to perfection. Carbon Steel woks are the best choice you can make when it comes to searing, grilling, or frying because they enable the Maillard reaction to take place. This refers to the caramelization of natural sugars in food, which seals in intense flavor and just the right amount of moisture.
Not sure you’re ready for a wok? Check out our Mineral-B Carbon Steel cookware!
Cooking Techniques for a Wok
We weren’t kidding when we mentioned the versatility of the wok. When picturing this big, round pan, the first thought is usually a savory Asian stir-fry. But the wok can actually perform a number of cooking functions beyond stir-fries, making it an impressive tool for any chef or home cook.
With a wok, you can perform all of the following cooking methods with ease:
- Deep frying (without fear of oil splattering thanks to its high sides)
Tips for Using a Wok:
If you’ve never used a wok or have limited experience, then there are a few best practices to know. These tips will help you take advantage of its benefits and understand exactly why this versatile pan is so appreciated by cooks around the world.
- Make sure to chop your ingredients uniformly to ensure they are evenly cooked
- Don’t overcrowd your wok. Make sure your food has space to breathe so it can come into direct contact with your cooking surface.
- Use a cooking oil with a high smoke point such as safflower, soybean, rice bran, or corn oil if you’re cooking at high temperatures
- Toss the food frequently with the help of a wooden, stainless steel, or high-temperature spatula.
- Season your Carbon Steel properly and follow the storage directions so it will last a lifetime.
Why is the de Buyer Wok the Best?
Our MINERAL B Carbon Steel Wok is loved for many reasons. It can be used on gas, electric, and induction stoves making it suitable for every kitchen setup. The long handle makes it easy to move and tilt, just be sure that when your hand leaves the handle, it isn’t left tipping in one direction so you don’t risk spilling food. This is one of the most popular and versatile pans in our collection and a prized companion to chefs and home cooks alike.
If you can appreciate the idea of a wok, but you’re still unsure how useful it might be for you, then our MINERAL B Carbon Steel Country Fry Pan might be just what you’re looking for. It offers all of the benefits of the Asian-style rounded wok, but with a flat bottom, similar to a French Wok.
If you’re cooking with a Western-style electric range cooker, a flat-bottom wok is a better option. Round bottom woks can reflect heat back on the element, potentially causing damage. A flat-bottomed wok like our Country Fry Pan and our professional-level MINERAL B PRO Carbon Steel Country Fry Pan can also be used on gas stoves, lending them even more versatility.
Wondering which utensils are best for Carbon Steel pans? Check out our lineup here!
Recipes to Try with your Wok
The wok is more than just your best stir-frying companion. With its signature high sides, you can use it for sautéing, simmering, and deep frying, too. Here are some of the many delicious ways you can utilize your Carbon Steel Wok:
- Hearty Chicken and Noodle Stir Fry
- Perfectly crispy Southern Fried Chicken
- Family-style batches of Scrambled Eggs
- Making Chinese Dumplings with a bamboo steamer
- Healthy Thai Drunken Fish (Pad Kee Mao)
- Wok-seared Sesame Green Beans
- Saucy Spaghetti Carbonara
- Fluffy Japanese Souffle Pancakes
- Drool-worthy vegan Udon Noodles
- Umami-tinged Vegetable Ramen
- Savory Steamed Pork Buns (Baozi)
- Crispy Cantonese Spring Rolls
- Vegan Steamed Seitan with Mushrooms
- Fillets of Tea Smoked 5-Spice Salmon
If you love trying out new kitchen tools, you’ll fall head over heels for the MINERAL B Carbon Steel Wok. It’s just the right kitchen addition to help you become the master of perfectly moist and crispy stir-fries, crispy deep-fried delights, soft and savory dumplings, and saucy al dente pasta. This reliable device is a heavy-duty favorite for its durability, versatility, and surprising affordability. If you’re already a fan of the benefits of carbon steel, give the wok a whirl. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you’ll come to love this rounded wonder!