Wok: All You Need to Know About This Cookware

Quite probably, everyone has heard of a wok, a type of frying pan of a special shape that is widely used not only in the Eastern countries from where it originates but also in Europe, the USA, and all over the world.

For some, woks are associated with professional use only. Even though there are some special approaches to the use of this utensil, as well as care for it, this cookware is a common choice among many people cooking meals for themselves and their families at home. So, what are the specifics of a wok? In this blog post, we will tell you about this utensil, peculiarities of using it, types of woks that exist. Let’s get started.
Frying vegetables in a wok
The wok frying pan is shaped like a bowler hat; it has a flat bottom and wide sides. The Asian roots of this dish explain the peculiarities of its configuration: it allows cooks to prepare food preserving useful qualities of products with minimal energy consumption.

The design of the pan makes it possible to use the maximum fire for cooking. As a result, the products are covered with an appetizing crust and retain their juiciness. The wok can also be used:

as the underside of the steamer, as a pan for indoor smoking, as a utensil for making soup, gravy, and sauce, and many more applications.

Wok history: The origins

The history of how the wok goes back to the deep antiquity of the Far East. In those days, the Chinese poor peasants did not have the opportunity to use either coal or firewood to kindle their hearth. All they could use was dried manure or straw, which is not the best fuel, because it burns quickly. That is why peasants had to come up with special dishes that can use all the heat as quickly as possible. It was a frying pan with thin walls, conical shape, so that all the food ingredients are in the very center, as close to the heat as possible.

Some had to use the heated stone. Therefore, the necessity of a utensil that could utilize the maximum available heat and quickly prepare the food was absolutely necessary to survive. This is how the specially formed wok appeared.

What is a Wok: Present Days

While the necessity to use the heat of the stove fast is no longer existent, the technique introduced by the Chinese to cook fast at high temperatures has won the hearts of millions of cookers, both professional and amateur, all over the world.

Now in contemporary stores, you can find many different models of the wok only vaguely reminiscent of its distant relative. What is a wok today and how to choose the right cookware?
Cooking with a wok on the ring on fire
The wok is versatile cookware that can almost completely replace most modern kitchen utensils. Dishes prepared in this way are characterized by special taste and appearance. Among the features of the dishes prepared in such a vessel, the following should be noted:

A small amount of oil is used - One tablespoon of oil is enough for cooking, which allows you to steam food, eliminating unnecessary calories; The dishes are full of nutrients and vitamins - The food is steamed at a high speed, so the dish does not have time to lose its beneficial properties, as it happens during frying or other cooking methods; Unusual taste - All dishes are characterized by a spicy aroma and pleasant taste compared to traditional cooking methods.

The Benefits & What is a Wok Used for

To better understand what a wok is used for, we recommend starting with the main benefits of using this utensil, which is characterized by the following advantages:

Food processing speed: Thanks to the convex shape of the bottom and thin walls, heat is evenly distributed over the surface. This allows you to significantly increase the speed of cooking and save time. Universal properties: These utensils can be used to prepare a variety of foods, from vegetables to meat and fish. If the kit also includes a grate, you can also steam dishes. High-quality food: When cooking, you don't have to use a lot of oil, which is good for a healthy diet. Thanks to the thin walls, the food is cooked in a matter of minutes, retaining beneficial elements. Such dishes are an excellent solution for those who maintain a healthy lifestyle. Multifunctionality: You can stew vegetables or any other side dish inside, and steam meat on the grate. Cooking costs are significantly reduced and you can also save a little on electricity or gas. Modifications: Depending on the configuration and the availability of additional functions, you can try a variety of culinary experiments.

If you are still wondering when to use a wok, then the answer is quite simple. It can be used for cooking almost any dish. In this way, you will get a healthy nutritious meal quickly.
Vegetables and meat in a wok
However, before getting one, it is necessary to consider some of the disadvantages of the wok. First of all, it is the size. These utensils can be quite large and heavy. Not every apartment has a kitchen that is big enough to store such a pan. On the other side, using a wok, you will not need numerous pans and other cookware. Another possible disadvantage is the handle. Usually, it is located right above the source of the heat and can be the reason for burns. Here is also a solution: you can look for woks with a wooden handle.

And finally, maintaining a wok in a working condition foresees the necessity to season it with oil. Some people are discouraged from buying a wok because of this. But in fact, the procedure is not too complicated. Acquire a wok from the supplier that provides detailed seasoning guides, and there will be no problem with taking care of a wok.

Types of Wok

There are versatile wok uses, and these utensils are not necessarily intended for professional chefs. Cooking at home with a wok is quite commonplace. You just need to select the one that will match your expectations. Here are the existing types of wok pans according to certain criteria:

Form: The traditional wok initially had a convex bottom, but such models are completely unstable and unsuitable for use on electric and gas stoves. So, to use a wok with a round bottom, it is necessary to purchase a special ring to stabilize the pan on the burner. For a contemporary wok, there is also a flat-bottomed version with a small diameter, which is much more convenient. Weight: The heaviest models are made of cast iron or carbon steel. The aluminum models are fairly lightweight. If you have chosen a heavy utensil, then look for a wok with two handles. Size: What size of a wok to choose depends on your needs. Usually, the stores indicate the upper diameter of the cookware. And if this parameter is about 30 cm, then such a pan is suitable for one person. A 34 cm wok is enough for cooking for a family of four. For more people, you need to buy a wok with a diameter of 36 cm or more.

Braising pasta and vegetables in a wok
So, before acquiring one of the woks available in contemporary stores, it is worth considering its types and asking a vendor for recommendations based on your culinary preferences and your expectations from a wok. Here are a couple of recommendations for proper cooking with a wok:

Be ready for continuous stirring. Cut all the ingredients that require roasting into strips or small cubes of the same size. In this way, it is possible to achieve uniform frying. For cooking, it is recommended to use oil with a high smoke point. Before placing food in the wok, it should be heated well, without decreasing the heat during cooking. The stirring should be carried out from the center to the edges. This allows you to achieve uniform roasting and avoid burning. If you plan to cook rice or noodles, then it is best to boil them in advance.

Final Thoughts

When buying a wok, many cooks face a logical choice, “What is the purpose of a wok and what can be cooked using a wok?” The list of dishes that can be prepared with this utensil is extensive. The variety of recipes for the wok depend on the imagination of a cook:

Stews, roasts, pilaf, all types of meat, and fried vegetables are considered ideal for cooking in a wok. With its help, you can also prepare chicken, pork, or beef equally tasty. You can smoke, steam, deep-fry, dry-fry, and use other cooking methods.

Cooking vegetables in a wok on fire
The applications of the wok are numerous, there are plenty of recipes and guides on the Internet. Even though this utensil requires specific care, the benefits of eating healthy nutritious meals cannot be overestimated. Enjoy the process of cooking and tasting delicious and healthy dishes!
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