What is the difference between a Cooking wok vs a frying pan?
When we want to get a new cooking pot, the cooking wok vs frying pan question naturally pops up in our minds. It can sometimes be difficult to tell the difference between a wok and a frying pan. At first glance, both kitchenwares can look very similar to one another. One may be versatile for literally any cooking, but sometimes you will have to choose one over the other. Each has advantages and disadvantages that may make one cookware more suitable for your specific needs than the other.
A cooking wok is a deep cooking vessel with raised sides and is the most common utensil in Chinese cooking. Typically, woks feature a round bottom to distribute heat evenly from the base to the sides. However, most woks sold in the US and other western countries have flat bottoms. Generally, woks are designed for stir-frying.
Advantages of a Cooking wok
Cooking in a wok has several advantages over a pan. Here are some of these advantages.
Less cooking time
Cooking speed is excellent in a wok, which is the main advantage you can get. A wok takes less time to cook food than how you would have taken with a frying pan. If you are in a hurry or want to prepare a lot of food simultaneously, a wok is your best bet.
With a wok, you get to stir fry or deep fry your foods. It makes steaming better if you get one with a lid. Sautéing is also easy with a wok than a pan. Round bottomed cookware makes stirring an easy task to do.
Little usage of oil
The shape of round bottomed-work creates extra depth. As a result, less oil is required when deep frying. This makes woks more economical and efficient than frying pans.
High heat distribution
Some specific dishes require high heat, and you only get to achieve this with a wok. Unlike frying pans, a wok can handle super high heat. High heat, like the one used in most Chinese restaurants, does not affect the coating of the wok. Most frying pans are non-stick and are not safe for cooking at high temperatures.
Cons of a Cooking wok
Woks are designed for stir-frying, a cooking method that creates a lot of smoke. You may experience too much smoke when cooking with a wok. So you may need to use it in a well-ventilated room.
Hard to maintain
A wok, like any other kitchen utensil, requires maintenance. It needs to be seasoned before and after every use. However, some materials like carbon steel don’t require seasoning as they tend to create their own natural non-stick surface over time. Even so, you will need to make sure your steelwork isn’t exposed to moisture to prevent corrosion. A wok that’s not likely to get affected by moisture is a stainless-steel wok.
A frying pan, also known as a French skillet, is normally shallow with a flat bottom and features a long handle. It is wide and has a sloppy or slanting side to make it easy for you to flip, turn or remove food from it. Frying pans are ideal for searing, sautéing, and scrambling.
Advantages of a frying pan
A pan is simple cookware that is easy and safe to use. Here are a few advantages that make a frying pan a better option.
Works with nearly all stovetops
Unlike a wok, a frying pan works perfectly with almost all types of stovetops. You won’t need any ring to prevent wobbling while you are cooking on a stovetop.
Even heat distribution
The materials that make a frying pan are different from what you will find in a wok. Most pans are made of aluminum with different coatings like Teflon or ceramics. It makes the pan non-stick and ideal for cooking without getting food stick to the surface. Aluminum material gives the frying pan an even heat distribution during cook time.
Easy flipping and tossing of food
The cooking methods involved in a wok are slightly different from a frying pan. Since they are deep, tossing or flipping food in a wok, using the handle is out of option. With a wok, oil gets concentrated in the middle. With a pan, oil gets evenly distributed across the flat surface. Also, the pan is great for cooking vegetables or other foods like eggs that do not require high heat. It needs less oil to make a great meal compared to a wok.
No smoky kitchen experienced
You do not get a smoky kitchen with a frying pan, and that’s a bonus for kitchens with poor ventilation. Did we mention sautéing is easier with a frying pan than with a wok? It works best with preparing meaty foods due to its large surface. If you intend to sear large chunks of steak, a frying pan is the better option. They are the ideal ones to use for home cooking. Woks are best suited for restaurants.
Easy to maintain
Taking care of a frying pan and cleaning it is easy than a wok. Non-stick frying pans do not need frequent seasoning. Cleaning burnt food from a frying pan takes less time to remove.
Frying pans usually have long handles that do not get hot. They are easier to remove from fire.
Cons of a frying pan
Before buying a frying pan, consider its pros as well. Here are the top disadvantages of a frying pan.
The major downside of a frying pan is that it is shallow for some cooking methods. Food is likely to slip out and create a mess in the kitchen.
Long hours of cooking
Food takes longer to prepare because of its properties and does not get well with higher heat.
Cooking with frying requires you to be more attentive than cooking with a wok. Since they are shallow, they put your ingredients at an increased risk of burning. You will need to watch your food throughout the entire cooking process to ensure it doesn’t burn.
Requires more oil
You may need to use a lot of oil to prevent your food from sticking to the pan. The extra oil can increase your cholesterol levels. However, you can avoid this problem by choosing a pan that has a non-stick coating.
Read more: Which is better Cast Iron Vs Carbon Steel Wok?
Both the wok and the frying pan do similar jobs. A wok is more versatile than a frying pan. With it, you can deep fry, stir-fry and braise. You may not achieve the same results with a frying pan.