stir-frying with a carbon steel wok

Most professionals and cooks choose a carbon steel wok because it bends ingredients to perfection, lends stir-fries, and gives a smokey flavor that Chinese gourmets highly covet.

Woks made of carbon steel are often pressed or spun from sheets of metal; the surface of these woks is smoother and less crumbly than those made of cast iron. Carbon steel woks are often designed with slanted sides, which makes them an excellent alternative to cast-iron skillets.

In this article, we'll be discussing everything you need to know about a carbon steel wok, including which products best to use as well as some FAQs. You should be able to get more insight and knowledge on what makes a carbon steel wok unique and remarkable in the household.

What Makes Carbon Steel Wok Best For Cooks

A chef is cooking with a carbon steel wok

Sturdy Material

Woks may be found in a variety of materials, including carbon steel, cast iron, anodized aluminum, enamel-lined cast iron, and nonstick. The majority of experts recommend using carbon steel because it perfectly sears everything and lends stir-fries the rare and smokey aroma that Chinese gourmets treasure.

It needs to be sturdy without becoming fragile. In contrast, cast iron will break if it is made thin enough to be lightweight due to its inherent brittleness. At some point, a patina that does not stick will form on the surface of the carbon steel.

Conventional Shape

Woks often have flat bottoms in the form of a circle, and they are supposed to be put on burners that are designed to support that shape especially and you'll frequently see complete ranges like this in Chinese restaurants.

However, many of them have flat bottoms designed to be used on conventional household burners, whether gas, induction, or coil. If you love cooking, you can turn a traditional burner into a wok ring if you want to.

Alternatively, you could purchase an outside setup for using round-bottomed woks.

Ergonomic Handle

When it comes to the design of the handle, woks made in the sturdy style is the best. Woks should have a handle that is longer on one side than the other, much like the skillets you are probably already acquainted with. This makes it easier to manipulate the wok around a flame and throw ingredients since it allows for more maneuverability.

Heat Retention

Carbon steel woks are very efficient at retaining heat, which means they can be used to cook various dishes quickly. The material is also quite durable and will last for years with proper care. These pans are often used by professional chefs because of their ability to withstand high temperatures and the fact that they don't warp like some other types of pans do.

These pans are perfect for stir-fry cooking or making fried rice or pancakes. They're also great for steaming food such as dumplings or shrimp dumplings. If you're looking for a versatile pan that can handle high heat and is easy to clean, then a carbon steel wok may be just what you need.

Versatility

With carbon steel woks, you don't have to worry about damaging your utensils when cooking because they are highly versatile and can handle high temperatures without flaking or warping. They're also easy to clean and don't require any special treatment. Carbon steel woks can be used on the stovetop or in an oven, making them a great choice for anyone who wants to cook various dishes at home.

Healthy Cooking

Carbon steel woks are an excellent choice for those who want to cook healthy because they don't release any harmful chemicals or toxins when heated up. This makes them a better option than non-stick pans, which often contain unhealthy coatings that can leach into your food when heated up. Carbon steel woks are also a good choice for anyone who suffers from an allergy or sensitivity to nickel, which is often found in stainless steel pans.

Is Carbon Steel Wok Safe For Cooking and Health?

carbon steel wok is safe for cooking

There is no replacement for a high-quality wok made of carbon steel. Not only is it not too costly, but it also equitably distributes heat. Even though numerous alternative materials, like aluminum, stainless, and even copper, may be used to make woks, most seasoned Asian chefs insist on using carbon steel because it is safe to use for cooking.

Emit Lesser Hazardous Fumes

Cooking using a wok made of carbon steel is less risky since it can withstand greater temperatures without releasing any hazardous byproducts and can withstand higher temperatures overall. As the temperature of other materials approaches 500 degrees, the possibility exists that they will begin to break down and emit toxic fumes.

Uses Less Oil

Cooking using carbon steel cookware, which has a naturally nonstick surface, takes less oil than when using cookware made of other materials, such as stainless steel. This results in less oily, more palatable meals and helps cut down on calories that aren't essential.

Adds Iron to Food

Cooking using carbon steel, which is 99 percent iron, may impart additional beneficial minerals into the food you prepare. The quantity that should be added is determined by the dish that is being prepared. However, individuals who are iron deficient might benefit tremendously from the addition of this ingredient.

Free Of Dangerous Chemicals Such as PFOA

Many people are curious about the safety of carbon steel woks and frying pans due to the nonstick coating on both cookware items. Thankfully, this is not the situation at all. Carbon steel cookware only contains two chemicals: carbon and iron, which are not considered poisonous.

Cookware made of carbon steel does not include any of the PFOAs that are present in Teflon. Iron is the primary component of this substance, making it among the most local materials used in nonstick cookware.

These PFOAs may be harmful if they persist in the body and the environment for extended periods. According to several research findings, they may potentially increase cancer risk, especially colon cancer and liver cancer.

How Do I Know if My Wok is Carbon Steel?

Ferromagnetic materials include steel and iron. It means that a magnet will adhere to them. It is quite doubtful that either one has a Teflon coating. If we're talking about iron, we usually mean cast iron, which is often rather hefty. Therefore, if the magnets attach to the object, you most likely have steel.

Certain types of stainless steel are ferromagnetic, but the vast majority are not. Teflon coating is likewise not likely to be applied on stainless steel. However, at least the outside of it will most likely have a glossy appearance. It is most likely made of aluminum if it is not magnetic. Most likely, aluminum has a coating.

Carbon Steel Wok VS Cast Iron Wok: Which is Better?

Cast Iron Wok

Compared to its equivalents made of carbon steel, a wok made of cast iron is not very prevalent in kitchens. It may be obtained in either a western or a Chinese style, according to your preference.

This substance is composed of a combination of iron and carbon, with carbon constituting a greater portion of the total. In most cases, they have a greater mass. They are not very good at conducting heat, which is a shame.

Keeping in the heat

The fact that this material can maintain a great deal of heat makes it ideal for frying foods such as potatoes, poultry, and other similar foods. Therefore, employing pots made of cast iron allows your food to maintain its heat for a longer period of time, either while it is being cooked or after it has been removed from the fire. Because it can retain heat for a longer time, it enables you to enjoy your prepared meal at a more comfortable temperature.

Non-stick

Cooking on your wok consistently is an excellent method to ensure it is always well seasoned. As long as you are not cooking acidic foods, it will not attach to the meal, and the spice will remain intact. The flavor on the wok is diminished and damaged due to the acidic content.

Carbon Steel

Because of its low cost, carbon steel is often the material of choice among consumers, regardless of their financial constraints. These are the most common kind of wok, and you can find them in almost every Chinese restaurant or home.

Lightweight

It is very lightweight and reacts to heat speedily. You don't have to wait interminably for the pot to heat up before you can start cooking. You may acquire a handle made specifically for the wok, although some of them already come with wooden grips.

Non-stick

One of its many positive attributes is that carbon steel does not stick. You may take advantage of a nonstick wok by following the correct maintenance technique and using it to cook all your favorite foods. Carbon steel cannot resist corrosion, although it is strong and long-lasting.

Cheaper

It is the wok with the lowest price point, making it an option for purchase for everybody. You may be sure to find it in various patterns to suit your preferences, as well as in any form or size you could choose.

Best Carbon Steel Wok to Buy

12" Iron China Wok Rust Proof Carbon Steel | imarku

12 inch carbon steel wok from imarku

The big capacity Zhangqiu carbon steel wok with a 12 inch diameter can accommodate the cooking needs of five to six persons. The 2 mm thicker body of the pot provides superior thermal insulation and contributes to greater energy savings.

The wok weighs just 2 kilograms, which is much less than the weight of the cast iron pan. Furthermore, the anti-scalding handle and the assist handle make it simple for women to lift the wok. This wok is suitable for any type of cooking you desire.

Why Choose This Product?

Imarku is continually improving its culinary implements, such as the knives and cookware, such as this carbon steel wok.

Pros:

  • It does not have a chemical coating.
  • It features a thicker wok body, which improves its thermal insulation performance.
  • More efficient in terms of conserving energy.

Cons:

  • Susceptible to rust
  • The material reacts to acidic food

12.6" Traditional Hammered China Wok | Hand-Hammered | imarku

12.6 inch traditional round-bottom wok

Forged with ten thousand hammers, this has resulted in the formation of a micro-convex surface, which helps to avoid stickiness. It is capable of holding a lot. A 12.6-inch iron wok is capable of meeting the cooking needs of five to six persons. The 2 mm thicker body of the pot provides superior insulation value and contributes to greater energy savings. This wok also weighs 2 kg only.

Why Choose This Product?

These pans heat up really rapidly and distribute heat very well, making them an excellent option for browning meat evenly all over. They also have a smoother texture, which makes for excellent contact while being grilled or seared.

Pros:

  • Has an anti-scalding and ergonomic handle
  • Absorbs grease better
  • Has natural coating
  • PFOA free

Cons:

  • Can develop rust over time
  • Can develop bends over time
  • Not dishwasher safe

 Round Bottom Wok VS  Flat Bottom Wok

the difference between round bottom wok and flat bottom wok

What Can You Not Cook in Carbon Steel?

Carbon steel is an all-around great material for cookware. It's highly durable and can handle very high temperatures without distortion or warping. It also has a relatively low thermal conductivity, meaning that it will retain heat well after being taken off the heat source. This makes it ideal for searing meat and fish.

Carbon steel is not all good news, though! It does have a few limitations that you should be aware of before you purchase your next piece of cookware.

For starters, it's reactive to acidic foods. This means that any food with an acidic component (tomatoes, citrus fruits, etc.) will react with the carbon steel and turn it black over time. If this happens, simply scrub off the layer of discoloration with some baking soda or vinegar, and your pan should look as good as new again!

Carbon steel also conducts heat differently than other materials. Because carbon steel has such a high thermal conductivity, it will retain heat very well when cooking at high temperatures but can cool down very quickly when it comes out of the oven or off the stovetop (this is why many chefs use double boilers).

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you use a carbon steel wok for the first time?

A carbon steel wok is a staple in Asian cooking. It's been used for centuries, and it's still being used today because it's an incredibly versatile tool that can be used for various things. You can cook with it, serve food on it, or even use it as a serving dish when you are done cooking.

The first thing you need to do is season your carbon steel wok! Seasoning helps make your wok non-stick by filling in any imperfections or scratches on the surface of the metal so nothing sticks to them anymore.

You can season your wok by heating up some oil in the pan until it starts smoking, then wiping off all excess oil with paper towels or something similar (do not use paper towels if you have an electric stove). This will leave behind only the thin layer of oil that is necessary to make sure nothing sticks to the surface of your carbon steel wok anymore!

After seasoning your carbon steel wok, you should use it like any other pan. You can use it for stir-frying or sauteing, but do not put it in the oven or on any other type of stovetop burner (like induction). The seasoning will burn off if you try to use your wok on anything other than an electric stove!

How do you season carbon steel pan?

There are a number of ways to season a carbon steel pan. If you have the time, the best way is to simply cook some bacon in your new pan. The bacon fat will leave behind a thin film of oil on the surface of your pan. For those who don't have time to cook bacon, here are some other options:

Use an oil spray or wipe on vegetable oil and rub it all over the inside of your pan with paper towels or clean kitchen towels until it's evenly coated. Then bake in an oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30 minutes. Let cool, then wipe off excess oil with paper towels or clean kitchen towels.

If you don't want to wait for your pan to cool down so that you can wipe off excess oil, put a few tablespoons of vegetable oil in the bottom of your pan and place it over medium-low heat on the stovetop while you're prepping food (make sure no flames come into contact with any part of the pan). Once hot enough, turn off heat and let stand for about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely before cleaning as described above.

Does food stick to carbon steel wok?

Yes, it does. Carbon steel woks are known for their high heat cooking performance and ability to withstand quick changes in temperature without warping or cracking. However, they also have their share of drawbacks.

Carbon steel woks require seasoning before use, and if you do not season it properly, they may start to rust or turn black in some areas. They are also more likely to develop scratches and stains over time than other types of cookware. The biggest drawback of using carbon steel pans is that food will stick to them more easily than many other types of cookware.

This is because the surface of a carbon steel pan is not as smooth as other types of cookware. In fact, it is somewhat porous, which means that food can get caught between the tiny holes in the surface. This can make cleaning your wok difficult and time-consuming.

The best way to avoid this problem is to use a thin layer of oil in your carbon steel pan when cooking. This will help food slide around more easily on the pan's surface and prevent it from sticking. You can also season your pan regularly with vegetable oil or other cooking oils to keep it looking new and shiny.

How to clean a carbon steel wok?

Carbon steel woks are one of the most popular types of wok because they're inexpensive, durable, and easy to care for. Cleaning it is simple, but there are some precautions you should take to avoid damaging it.

Wash your carbon steel wok by hand with warm water and mild detergent or soap. Rinse the wok thoroughly and dry it immediately with paper towels or a clean cloth. Wipe the inside of the wok with paper towels or a clean cloth if necessary.

For stubborn stains, scrub them with baking soda or salt and rinse thoroughly with warm water before drying. You can also use dish washing liquid diluted in water as an alternative to soap and water. Lastly, never use scouring pads or metal utensils on your carbon steel woks because they will scratch their surface easily.

How is a carbon steel wok different from other types of wok?

First of all, it's much thicker than stainless steel woks. This makes carbon steel woks more durable and less likely to warp or dent even after years of use. Carbon steel woks also heat up faster than stainless steel counterparts and retain heat longer, which makes them ideal for stir-frying. Finally, carbon steel woks are usually lighter in weight than stainless steel ones because they have less metal content.

Final Thoughts

Carbon steel woks are an excellent choice for those looking for a durable and versatile cooking utensil. They are easy to maintain, but you must be careful when washing them because the material is quite soft and prone to scratches and dents if mishandled. In the end, carbon steel woks are a great choice for people who want to enjoy their cooking experience without worrying about the quality of their utensils. The only downside is that they are not dishwasher safe and require hand-washing.

China wokCookware

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