Woks are made from many different materials. There are stainless steel woks, ceramic woks and cast iron woks on the market. However, there are also many different styles of wok, where subtle changes in design alter the cooking style used.
Types of wok
The best wok for you depends on the style of cooking you use most often. For example, deep woks are fairly versatile and can be used to deep fry food, as well as more conventional stir frying. Small woks, popularly known by the Malaysian word "kuali", are ideal if you only cook for yourself or for small groups. Large woks, or "kawa", are a great choice if you often cook for larger groups. Chinese woks are the most common type of woks you will find. However, there are also Indian varieties of wok. These come in two groups - one like the traditional Chinese design and one that is deeper but with a narrower top. Western woks are often designed with flat bottoms, similar to large frying pans. In the East, you will be more likely to find round bottomed woks, balanced on a wok ring during cooking. There are also single and two handled woks available. Woks with two handles are generally used for larger, heavier dishes. Finally, choosing a wok with a lid means you will be able to use the wok for steaming food, as well as frying. You will be able to find several varieties with a glass lid, so that you can see the food or a cast iron lid, to match the rest of the wok.
Cooking with a wok
While woks are used almost exclusively as stir fry pans in the West, they are much more versatile than this.
Wok cooking recipes exist for soups, steamed dumplings, stews, smoked meat and fish and braised vegetable.
A cast iron wok pan is a very useful addition to the kitchen. Even if you only use it to stir fry food, proper wok seasoning can open up a whole range of flavours.
Stir frying is also generally considered to be one of the healthiest cooking options. As such, it makes sense to add a wok to your kitchen.
Just be sure to get the right accessories, whether this is a lid, a wok stand or cooking utensils designed for use with a wok.