I hope we can all agree to this:
A wok is popular with Chinese chefs, but it is not limited to the Chinese cuisine.
The best carbon steel wok will not only help you use less oil when cooking, but it will also cook your meals to perfection owing to the even distribution of oil.
You do not necessarily have to spend a month’s salary to get the best wok on the market. Sure, some of the best are ridiculously expensive, but you can score a good bargain following the information you are about to read.
Why Carbon Steel And Not Any Other Material?
Well, aluminum, stainless steel, and copper make excellent woks, but Asian chefs swear by carbon steel. Why is that? It could be due to carbon’s heat conductivity, or the fact that it is durable or both.
Heat distribution is essential when you are making a signature stir-fry or deep-frying food in the house. Carbon steel handles it all like a pro, and it does well with steaming too.
As for durability, exposure to heat ruins cookware, and so it helps that this material can take a beating.
What To Look For In A Carbon Steel Wok
This is undoubtedly an important aspect of just about any cookware. Stainless steel will never be ideal for high heat, as food tends to stick to it, making the cooking process literally impossible. Most stainless steelwoks are also heavy and cumbersome to maneuver, making the cooking process too tiring for nothing.
Method of Manufacture
The method of manufacture determines the quality of your wok. If you could remember those old-age woks that are hammered into shape, those are surprisingly some of the best. They are handmade through hammering steel into shape. In the process, the hammer leaves dents that make it possible to stir your food without spilling it. Unfortunately, you will hardly find them o the current market.
Stamped woks are a result of thin sheets of carbon steel being molded into circular shapes that are also completely smooth. The main problem with these is that food being stirred has nothing to hold it in place and so it spills uncontrollably. They are a dime a dozen on the market and dirt-cheap.
A lathe is used for spun woks, forming patterns like those that you see on hammered woks. They are more expensive but great when stirring food.
Shape of the Wok
The shape is imperative as it determines how your wok will hold on a stove. You don’t want a flat wok because it defeats its purpose, doesn’t it? You also do not want a wok that will not work with your electric or gas stove.
The depth matters even when you want the bottom to be relatively flat. 14 inches of depth is ideal while a 5-inch flat bottom will work well. This shape of wok will make it easy to flip your food while still sitting comfortably on the stove.
The handle is critical, as you will be flipping your food several times before its ready. Modern flat woks have longer handles with a smaller helper handle on the other end; similar to those on skillets, but the traditional ones have two hands to the side (mostly steel made). Longer handles are easier to work with.
5 Best Carbon Steel Wok Reviews 2017
This Joyce Chen wok measures 14 inches in diameter, and a 25-year warranty covers it.
The surface is super smooth and scratch-free of handles with care. This explains the extended warranty. It is made of carbon steel, and the interior part of this wok is non-stick.
It is reasonably thick with a 1.5mm gauge steel body with birch wood handles that make it easy to hold and flip.
The larger handle is on one side with the smaller (helper) handle being directly opposite. It is ideal for not only flipping but also storage.
The bottom part of the wok is flattened and therefore possible to use on gas, electric, and induction cookers. Although it is pretty smooth, the curved sides prevent food from spilling over when you turn or flip it.
As is with most cookware, this wok comes with a film of oil that has been applied to prevent rusting while in storage. You will need to scrub it with soap and water to remove it, but it may stay put until after the first use. Thereafter, you may want to avoid using soap as it strips the wok of its finer qualities. Warm water and a piece of cloth will do. Seasoning will keep it in great shape and retain the non-stick effect for longer.
Although this wok is dishwasher safe, it is advisable that you stick with warm water and cloth to keep it in the best shape. It weighs 3lbs, which is not too heavy for flipping but at the same time not too light.
This wok is heavier than most, with its 14-gauge steel carbon. It has a flat bottom that is designed to sit on almost any stove.
The wooden handle makes managing this heavy wok easy, while the little helper handle comes in handy during the preparation of large meals.
Inside, this wok is a beautiful bronze that it retains all through. It is also smooth, but its large size and side curves hold food when you turn it or flip.
The carbon steel that makes up this wok is heavy and unseasoned, but that does not mean it cannot be seasoned before storage. Since it has no thick oil film, there is no need to take to scrub it thoroughly before using it for the first time. The material will handle high heat, rapid heating, and cooling.
This wok measures 12 inches, and so it will make a meal for five people. It is 4 inches deep, meaning that it will allow easy flipping and turning of food. It weighs 7lbs, which is quite heavy, but then again ideal noting the nature of its material.
The wooden handle will not conduct heat, and so you can trust it to stay cool even through the high heat. To use this wok in the oven, you can unscrew the larger handle and then cover the helper with aluminum foil or a wet cloth.
Care is needed to keep this wok in shape. Instead of washing it with soapy water, you should opt for plain warm water and a piece of cloth.
You can and should season it before storing it to retain the nonstick effect and to prevent rusting (even though it is unlikely to happen). You can season it in the oven.
This 14-inch wok prepares a meal for ten people. Because it is large and reasonably heavy, it comes with a helper handle on the side and the main handle, which is wooden for better support. The base is flat and accommodative of various types of stoves.
This wok is black and pre-seasoned. The machine oil is not that heavy or difficult to remove as long as you scrub it with soapy water and a piece of cloth. Once you have removed the film, you will not need to use soap on it again as that would diminish its effectiveness.
Caron steel conducts heat well, and it distributes it evenly all through the wok. It handles high heat well, and so it will be okay to use it for deep-frying, stir-frying, and making fish dishes.
The interior part of it has non-stick properties that will remain as long as you take proper care of it, and so proteins will not stick to the side as they are known to do.
Although it is relatively smooth, the sides have a bit of pattern left during manufacture. This pattern prevents food from spilling over when you flip or turn it.
The larger handle can be removed as it comes unscrewed anyway during shipping, and so you can use this wok in the oven. The manufacturer says that the non-stick coat is PFOA free, and so it is safe for the environment.
Measuring 14 inches in diameter and 4 for depth, this wok is meant for large meal preparation.
The manufacturer says it can be used to cook for 10 people. The base is flat, conforming to the new woks that fit almost all stoves.
The handles on this wok are made of steel, something that those who like popping theirs in the oven will like. They are sturdy and big enough to fit the hands through. You will need to handle them with a piece of cloth, seeing as steel is a conductor of heat.
It heats up quite fast, and it stays that way for as long as it’s on the stove. Because carbon steel is good at conducting heat, it distributes it evenly to cook your food perfectly. It can handle very high heat for a long time without losing its effectiveness.
This wok is carbon steel made. It is made to last a lifetime, a fact that is stamped by the manufacturer’s lifetime guarantee. In the directions, you are advised to cook pungent vegetables in it with just a little oil until they are charred, and then dispose of them and wipe the wok clean. This gets rid of the built up film that the manufacturer has left there for its protection.
Since you can heat it in the oven, seasoning becomes all the more easier.
This 11.8-inch wok is quite expensive, but then one look at it lets you know why it is top of the range.
It is made of extra-thick carbon steel that conducts heat perfectly, making it the ideal wok for searing food.
The handle is steel made, and it may get hot after a while, but luckily, it is long. The wok darkens over time as the natural non-stick film builds up.
You will need to season it before the first use to orient it to high heat, and then the aftercare requires little to no use of soap when cleaning.
The flat base makes it easy to use on any stove, including the oven after you have unscrewed the long handle.
The diameter makes it easy to flip food without fear of spilling it over. This wok weighs 6lbs, which is an ideal weight for searing and flipping food, and it gives it the ability to withstand heat for a long time.
You do not have to order out every time you crave Asian food. We know that is the norm, but don’t you want to try out a few of the numerous recipes there are online? Well, you cannot make a mean stir-fry without the best carbon steel wok.
While we believe that we have chosen the best woks on the market, the Joyce Chen 21-9978 Carbon Steel Wok stands out. It is wide enough to make a meal for five people and it is made to last a lifetime.
It has an extensive unlimited warranty, and the wooden handle only makes flipping even easier. The price is ideal for a low-maintenance asset that will last you forever. We highly recommend it.