When creating and testing stir-fry dishes for Easy Chinese Recipes In 30 Minutes, author Shiao-jang Kung tried out a number of different pots, pans, and woks. Kung is not a professional chef, nor does she use expensive woks. When she needs to make a stir-fry, she uses a 10-year-old All-Clad stainless steel wok and an old Lodge cast-iron fry pan she bought at a yard sale. She also uses an extra-wide 14″ skillet (see below) for for larger dishes. All of the woks make delicious dishes and have lasted for years. The list of best woks below is based on the gear Shiao-jang uses at home, as well as the woks used by testers and relatives from Taiwan and China.
These woks and skillets can be used for the following dishes from Easy Chinese Recipes In 30 Minutes:
- Fried Rice
- Chicken With Green Peppers
- Beef With Scallions
- Soy-Braised Salmon
- Shrimp With Celery
A Warning About Nonstick Woks
Department stores, Amazon and large retailers such as Walmart have large selections of nonstick woks. This does not mean you should use one for stir-fries. Nonstick pots are rare in Chinese kitchens — nonstick surfaces don’t brown as well as steel or iron, and don’t hold up when used with metal utensils. Indeed, Kung found that the surfaces of the woks deteriorate quickly in her own tests. The best woks listed below are all stainless steel or iron.
Stainless Steel Woks
All-Clad Stainless 12-Inch Chef’s Pan
This is the wok Author Shiao-jang Kung uses at home. It’s a solid wok that has performed admirably for years, but at 12″ wide it may be insufficient for browning large batches of meat.
For cooks who want more capacity, the Cooks Standard Multi-Ply Clad Stainless Steel 13-Inch Wok is wide, deep, and has a relatively wide bottom which is useful for browning.
Cast Iron Skillet
Nothing beats a well-seasoned cast iron skillet for browning. Because the iron is so heavy, 10″ or 11″ skillets are the maximum size most people can carry. They have a large high-heat cooking surface compared to woks, but the relatively shallow lip of the cast-iron skillets will limit the amount of ingredients that it can hold. They are great for cooking a large batch of a single ingredient, or long strips of fish. Kung uses an old Lodge skillet, like the one pictured here.
Cuisinart Chef’s Classic Stainless Open Skillet
The Cuisinart pan is gigantic, but distributes heat very evenly. It’s very good for stir-frying larger amounts of food without resorting to batch cooking. Note that it doesn’t come with a lid.