Woks are round-bottomed pots that have been used in many Asian countries for ages. It originated in China but brought to the US in the 19th century. They are not only a traditional cooking pot but also used in modern kitchens.
They no longer come with boring metal handles on both sides. Improved designs contain long handles to make it easier placing or taking the food out of the fire. Some of them also come with lids, but you can also get woks without lids for covering your food. The lids help a lot in food recipes that require steaming. These pots can fit on any stove and have been used for smoking, frying, steaming, among others.
Typically, they come in various materials, with cast iron and carbon steel being among them. All these materials vary in terms of price and longevity. For this reason, we’ve determined the quality of each material based on several factors, such as durability, price, ease of cleaning, etc. We’ve also looked at the pros and cons of each material.
1. Carbon steel
Depending on one’s budget, many people prefer to go for carbon steel for its affordability. They are the most popular types of wok you are sure to find in any Chinese kitchen.
It is the most affordable wok that anyone can consider owning. You are sure to get it in various designs for your preference, in any shape or size you want.
It is very light and responds to heat quickly. You don’t need to wait forever for the pot to heat before starting to cook. Some of them come with wooden handles, but you can get a custom handle for the wok.
The good thing with carbon steel it’s that it doesn’t stick. With the right maintenance procedure, you get to enjoy a non-stick wok while preparing your favourite food on it. Even though they are sturdy and durable, carbon steel lacks the ability to resist corrosion.
Carbon steel wok gets seasoned before any cooking gets done on them. This makes them non-stick and long-lasting.
Excellent heat distribution
It is the best material to go for when you do a lot of vegetable cooking that does not require a lot of time to cook. With a wok made of carbon steel, you can cook your meaty foods and add some more pieces without worrying about uneven cooking.
How to season a carbon steel wok
Seasoning a carbon steel wok is an easy and important step one shouldn’t miss out on in your routines.
- Add a small amount of cooking oil and use a basting brush to spread it all over the inner surface.
- You can then heat it on medium heat for a few minutes and then use a dry towel to wipe off any residue. You can set the heat between medium and high when seasoning a carbon steel wok.
Cleaning a carbon steel wok
As much as seasoning reduces rust, a carbon steel wok still needs regular cleaning and maintenance. Like other materials, you may notice discoloration on the wok depending on the heat it gets exposed to while cooking.
In case it gets rusted, all you are required to do is to re-season it. How you get to clean carbon steel may be different from how you can clean other materials.
Rinsing it on hot water is an important step you shouldn’t miss. To get any food debris off the wok, scrubbing the inner surface will be required.
It is not advisable to scrub a carbon steel wok with a metallic sponge. You shouldn’t also use an abrasive cleanser if you want it protected. Instead, consider using a non-metallic sponge to scrub off everything.
Rinse and then store it if you do not intend to use it immediately. It is important at all costs to avoid cleaning a carbon steel wok on a dishwasher.
- Lighter than cast iron
- Easy to use
- More affordable than cast iron
- Requires regular seasoning to make it non-stick
- Not corrosion resistant
2. Cast iron wok
Cast iron wok is not common in kitchens compared to its carbon steel counterparts. It’s available in two variations: the Chinese and the western type.
This material is a mixture of both iron and carbon, with carbon being in a higher percentage. Generally, they are heavier. Unfortunately, they are a poor heat conductor.
The good thing about this material is that it retains a lot of heat, which is good for frying potatoes, chickens, etc. Therefore, using pots made of cast iron comes with the benefit of letting your food stay hot for longer when cooking or after removing it from the fire. It keeps your cooked foods warmer for a longer period thanks to its heat retention properties.
Continuously cooking on your cast iron wok is a great way to make it seasoned at all times. It is non-stick, and the seasoning stays intact as long as you are not preparing acidic foods. The acidic content reduces and damages the wok’s seasoning.
One disadvantage of this material is that it doesn’t respond well to heat adjustments. Reducing or turning it off will still make the wok to continue cooking for some time. The retained heat can get the food overcooked. It is also heavy to lift off your stove.
Cleaning and maintaining cast iron woks
The technique for washing cast iron wok is relatively the same as carbon steel. The cleaning process involves using hot water and a non-metallic brush to remove food particles stuck on the wok.
- Retains heat for a long time
- Strong and durable
- Poor conductors of heat
Read more :How To Clean A Cast Iron Wok?
In summary, these two materials work great in helping you prepare your favourite meals. Carbon steel is a good conductor of heat but will lose heat faster. On the other hand, cast iron woks take longer to heat but will retain much of the heat needed to cook your food. The two materials both do a great job in meal preparation, with the difference being in the thermal efficiency of both materials.