Choosing a cast iron wok
Like most cookware, woks are available in different materials and selecting the right one for you always comes down to personal preference.
However, choosing cast iron ensures your wok will last a lifetime, making it worth the investment. If looked after properly, cast iron woks will even get better with age and can enhance the flavour of your Asian dishes because of how well they hold and distribute heat.
One thing to keep in mind though is the weight. Cast iron woks will be heavier than stainless steel so if you prefer to use more lightweight materials on your cooktop, cast iron might not be the right fit.
Considerations when buying a wok:
Material. Cast iron, stainless steel and carbon steel are all popular choices.
Heating element. Make sure the wok you pick is suitable for your stovetop. The beauty of cast iron is that it works on all cooktops, including induction.
Durability. A high quality wok made of durable materials will be your friend for life.
Budget. Cast iron woks vary in price but the fact the material will last forever means you can make a purchase and have total faith that it will continue to work hard for you, no matter your budget.
Types of woks to choose from
Woks are available in a variety of materials, each one having its own set of advantages. Let’s take a closer look by exploring the benefits below.
Durable and rust-resistant. Stainless steel is known for its corrosion-resistant properties and, as it won’t rust when it comes into contact with water or moisture, it’s ideal for noodles and stir fries.
Better for acidic ingredients. Stainless steel woks can handle highly acidic food such as citrus, vinegar, honey and molasses better than cast iron, so consider your ingredients and types of stir fry cuisine before deciding.
Exceptionally tough. Cast iron is one of the toughest and most durable materials available. Not only does this create long-lasting, heavy-duty pieces of cookware, but it also means it can be taken camping or used in high-demand settings such as commercial kitchens.
Cooks food evenly. The unique way in which cast iron retains and distributes heat ensures even cooking every time as well as tender results. Once it’s reached the desired temperature you don't even need to keep the stove on.
Versatile. Cast iron woks are highly versatile and can be used for both Asian and European cuisines.
Lightweight. Carbon steel is lighter and easier to move around the stove than cast iron but it will require seasoning to keep it stay in shape and prolong its life.
Heats up quickly. As well as being very durable, carbon steel will heat up faster than cast iron but it doesn’t share the same heat retention properties.
Non-stick. Most carbon steel woks have a non-stick surface so they require less cooking oil for healthier results.
Flat bottom vs round bottom - what’s the difference?
Woks come in various sizes, shapes and materials. You will also find one that has a flat bottom and another that has a round bottom. Each has its advantages and disadvantages.
Flat Bottom Wok
Flat bottom woks are common in Western countries such as the US and UK whereas round-shaped woks are common in Asia. Flat bottom woks are versatile for almost all cooking surfaces and will remain stable while unattended, making a flat bottom wok a safe option for gas and electric cooktops.
Round Bottom Wok
A typical Chinese wok has a round shape designed to work efficiently with gas stoves. This original wok design is a favourite for stir-frying, searing, shallow frying, deep frying, marinating and more. Round bottom woks also have a higher heat threshold and provide even distribution of heat.
Special features to look for in a wok
A traditional wok with a wooden handle can be the perfect stir fry pan. The handle should be comfortable to grip and the pan should be easy to manoeuvre around the stove top. Cast iron provides long-lasting heat distribution to keep stir fry and noodle dishes hotter for much longer.
Cast iron pans have been used by home cooks for thousands of years, and today’s kitchenware and kitchen utensils are able to handle high heat safely. Along with cast iron woks, check out cast iron skillets, saute pans, cast iron induction cookware, bakeware, Dutch ovens, BBQ-friendly woks and more at Kitchen Warehouse.
Maintenance, cleaning and care
Cast iron that is properly cared for will last for years. The method to maintain a wok is called seasoning. Here is a short guide on how to properly season a wok.
1: Clean your brand new wok with hot water and detergent, then dry.
2: With a paper towel, spread oil over the surface of the wok and heat up to smoking point.
3: Continue cleaning the wok over a low flame, then clean away with detergent and water.
First Seasoning Layer
1: Dry the wok over a low heat and wipe away excess water with a paper towel.
2: Add oil into the wok and spread it with a paper towel.
3: Continuously move the oil over the wok surface area for several minutes.
4: Clean the wok with detergent and water.
Using a wok and cooking tips
Your new cast iron wok could be the most versatile cookware in your kitchen. However, the unique wok shape requires some special cooking techniques. Here are some tips, plus what not to do when cooking with a wok.
Never overfill the wok
Cut your veggies and have your spices ready (wok cooking is fast)
Preheat the wok before adding anything
Use the right cooking oil for the type of meal being prepared
Turn the heat up to effectively controlled high-heat levels for most wok cooking
Use gas burners wherever possible or opt for a flat bottom wok on an electrical burner
Must-have cooking tools to go with your cast iron wok
Wok cooking has been around almost forever. The techniques and equipment are simple but refined, and here are some accessories and cooking tools worth considering.
Wok cover or lid
Wok skimmer spoon
Other cast iron cookware to match your cast iron wok
The perfect companion to a cast iron wok is a cast iron skillet. This smaller, flat bottomed frying pan is hugely versatile. Skillets are heavy duty performers with good heat retention. Saute pans and casserole pans with iron or glass lids are just as versatile. Enamel/cast iron cookware is another option. Whether your culinary choice is Asian, European, or English/American, cast iron cookware has almost all bases covered and Kitchen Warehouse is where you will find highest quality products at best available prices.
Brands we know and trust
We are the number one choice in Australia for cast iron cookware, including non-stick woks, grill pans, saucepans, griddle pans, stock pots, French ovens and more from well known and trusted brands such as Tefal, Pyrolux, ScanPan, and Le Creuset, with plenty of wok products to choose from, including the Jamie Oliver Cooks Classic Induction Wok, you are sure to find the perfect wok cookware set for your kitchen.
Buying online with Kitchen Warehouse
A huge advantage of shopping with a specialist retailer and trusted brands is that you can shop for cookware with confidence online from the comfort of home. Choose products made in Australia or by famous international manufacturers. Kitchen Warehouse will price match a lower price found on the same item at another outlet. We also offer a full 30-day money back guarantee if you are unhappy with your purchase.
Does a cast iron wok need seasoning?
Many new wok pans are pre-seasoned. There are others made with non-stick coatings. It’s always a good idea to give new cookware a thorough clean before use. Check manufacturers instructions regarding your specific purchase.
What is the difference between a wok and a frying pan?
Slightly sloped walls
Oils and sauces sit evenly at the bottom
Deep sloped walls
Liquids sit in the centre