Asian and Asian-inspired food is quickly growing in popularity, and so is cooking it. One utensil for cooking authentic Asian food is the wok. This is a large pan with high sloping sides, handles and a lid. It is especially suited for stir frying food.
A wok may be electric or it may sit on a small rack above the stove eye. The size and shape of the pan enable the cook to stir fry meats and vegetables, moving them toward and away from the main heat source to ensure even cooking. A regular wok may be less expensive, but it is also harder to use than an electric one.
A cook needs to know how his or her individual wok distributes heat in order to cook foods properly. However, once a cook has mastered the technique, he can use the pan on an electric stove, a gas stove, or over a campfire. Traditional woks are by far more versatile than the electric kind.
An electric wok has the great advantage of even heating. The heating element will heat all parts of the pan evenly, without hot or cold spots. This is a boon for beginning cooks, or for those who are unsure if they have the expertise needed for a regular one.
With the advent of non-stick coating, a wok may have this feature, whether electric or not. The non-stick coating is certainly a great feature, since even less fat can be used for the cooking process, and the cook will not have to worry about the food sticking to the pan. Bamboo utensils, traditionally used when cooking with a wok, are suitable for non-stick surfaces, as well. Of course, even in the highest quality pan, a non-stick cooking surface will not last forever, meaning that it will likely need to be replaced more quickly than an uncoated one.
Non-electric woks usually are priced the same as other comparable sized pans. Some are sold in kits that include the cooking rack and utensils, and if the cook does not have these extra components, such a kit is probably the best buy. Electric woks are a little more expensive, and most also come with utensils and even recipe booklets. This pan is a truly indispensable cooking utensil for those interested in Asian cuisine.