What’s Up Wok?

Is there anything cast iron can’t do? Apparently not, since cast iron even makes a great wok.
Mar 30, 2010 11:30 AM ET

What’s Up Wok?

I have to admit that while I like Asian dishes very much, I don’t often cook them at home. But it’s something I’d like to learn to do, so I started doing a little research on woks and found out something interesting.

Most Chinese families use a cast iron wok for stir-frying. Who knew? I always assumed that stainless steel or even carbon-steel would be the most popular because they’re so light.

But food will stick to a steel wok, unlike cast iron. And I’ve also learned that steel woks tend to warp and pit easily, giving them a shorter usage life. Steel woks are great for steaming, but if you have a steamer basket or, really, a microwave, it seems unnecessary to have one just for that purpose.

Since very high temperatures are needed for a good stir fry, cast iron seems to make the most sense. When properly seasoned, it can take the heat, stay beautifully non-stick and clean up easily. Plus I like the idea of passing a well-used and loved cast iron wok - or skillet, dutch oven or griddle - along to the next generation.

If you’re interested in the history of the wok, or in some delish-sounding cast iron wok recipes, visit June Chua’s blog at Suite101.com. The Stir-Fried Pea Shoots, Green Chili Chicken, Spicy Indian Cauliflower, and Shanghai Pork Noodles all sound tasty and seem easy enough for the beginner.

So, I’m off to the thrift store to begin my search for the perfect, up-cycled wok. Wish me luck.

Want to love your cast iron even more? Read Tales Of The Cast Iron Skillet and Is Cast Iron The Healthiest Way To Cook?

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