The best electric wok can be used to prepare dishes ranging from steaming, pan frying, deep frying, stewing, and making soups. A good wok can go a long way.
Without doubt, it is the most frequently used cooking vessel in most kitchens nowadays. This versatile pan is ideal for stir-frying, steaming, deep-frying, and indoor smoking.
Woks come in various shapes, construction, metal types, handle placements, and sizes.
Possibly the best attribute to the wok is its being relatively affordable and abundantly available in today’s market.
Before setting out to buy a wok, however, you need to reflect on the basic qualities that make a durable and efficient wok.
Materials used in the construction of a pan could spell the difference between getting top-quality woks and mediocre or inferior ones.
Stainless steel – these woks are a good metal variety against corrosion and wear, but most food tends to stick to steel, especially protein.
Apart from being pretty heavy and quite difficult to maneuver in and out of the high-heat zone, they take long to heat and cool – an obvious disadvantage to stir-frying where constant flipping and quick high heat adjustments are essential in creating a perfect dish.
Cast iron – this could be a better option if only for its non-stick surface.
As with stainless steel, however, it is slow to heating or cooling and rather heavy to lift. Let it be told, though, that a cast-iron wok that’s pretty thin is particularly volatile – it can break or crack in half when put down very hard.
Carbon steel – carbon-steel woks would likely be the best choice. They’re sturdy, reliable, and easy on the pocket.
They’re extremely receptive to fire, heats up evenly and fast, and as good as any non-stick surface if subjected to proper seasoning before using it the first time and regular maintenance.
Make sure to get gauge-14 (around 2-mm thick) woks – the sides should not bend when pressed.
The good old woks of past generations had deep round-bottomed shapes that fit into a spherical opening directly over the fireplace – a cooking corner that has been outlived by the influx of modern electric and gas ranges.
It would be wise, though, to steer clear from those round-bottomed woks for they don’t usually work on modern cooktops.
On the other hand, woks with too flat a bottom make flipping pretty tough and maneuvering food in and out of the fire equally demanding.
The ideal wok comes with a 4- to 5-inch flattened zone at the base with gradually sloping sides that widen to at least 14 inches at the mouth.
This provides high-heat space for stir-frying vegetables and meat at the bottom, while allowing enough room for greater maneuverability when it comes to flipping.
When it comes to handles, there are two options to choose from – the Cantonese- and Northern-style woks.
The first comes with two short small (just right for gripping) handles on each side, while the latter has a large long handle with a smaller short handle at the opposite side.
The large one makes flipping easy and the short one makes lifting effortless.
One way to determine if a wok can hold out to the rigors of cooking food in high heat is to learn and understand how they’re made, which is classified into three methods, namely:
Hand hammered – this is, of course, the traditional method.
As the name suggests, the construction is completely done with bare hands.
Although a bit crude as compared to machine-made woks, the reed-thin serrations left by repetitive hammering will allow pushing cooked food to the sides of the wok, while supplementing other needed ingredients to the center, without the food sliding towards the bottom.
Unfortunately, hand-hammered woks with a flat bottom and a long handle are quite hard to come by these days.
Stamped – these woks are constructed from a rounded piece of low-grade carbon steel and pressed by machine into a mold.
They are quite thin and relatively cheap, and they come out smooth from top to bottom.
They are prone to building up hot and cold spots which make stir-frying all the more difficult.
Spun – these woks are processed through a lathe machine which gives them a distinctive pattern of concentric circles, much like those of hand-hammered woks that allow holding food in place on the side of the pan.
Fortunately, unlike hand-hammered pans, spun woks with flat bottoms and large flip-friendly handles are a breeze to find and inexpensive to boot.
They’re also available in heavy-gauged carbon steel and are easy to care for and maintain.
Most woks have protective layer of oil applied on them to prevent against corrosion or discoloring; hence, it is imperative to remove the layer and break the pan in (also referred to as seasoning the pan) before using it the first time. First, scrub the pan with hot, foamy water, and dry thoroughly.
To break it in, set it over a flame in maximum heat until it starts smoking, thoroughly rotating it to expose every area to the heat.
Finally, oil it using a kitchen or paper towel and you’re good to go.
Thereafter, reject any idea of scrubbing the pan unless extremely necessary.
A wash-down with a fine soft sponge and proper drying is all you need to maintain your wok regularly.
Regular use of heated oil breaks it (oil) down into polymers that plug up microscopic openings on the metal’s surface, making it eventually non-stick, sans the noxious coatings present in most non-sticks.
Finally, it wouldn’t do any good going for woks with non-stick coatings.
The majority of these coatings (PFOA, PFA, and other perfluorinated chemicals or PFCs) are superficially imposed upon the pan’s surface, which can’t withstand extreme heat – the requisite temperature for stir-frying.
And when the coatings vaporize they release nasty fumes harmful to everyone’s health.
What is the best electric wok in 2016?
There have being development to the manufacturing of these woks now having the availability of electric woks.
These woks however are made with a flat bottom giving a chance for easier use and a more trusting stance of balance.
Electric woks do vary in size and depending on the family’s needs, they buy in accordance to what they need. It is indeed a good product to work with and it provides more fun in the preparation of food thus giving a more enthusiastic feel to enjoying the meal.