Wok?!

I’ve done some passable but not great stir fries with noodles (chinese, thai), only to realize that my cookware is all wrong for this process. I’ve tried with a larger shallow stainless pot, which holds a lot, but the noodles all stick to the bottom. I tried yesterday with a smaller nonstick pan, and the noodles didn’t stick. But the capacity was so small that I had to halve my dish and stir fry it in 2 batches. Also, I mistakenly combined my sauce with my noodles, which quickly absorbed it all, and when I tossed in the goodies/chunks, they absorbed none of the sauce - it was all sucked up already. I don’t know whether a wok would fix any of this. Or should I not be making a 4 person portion all at once? And what kind of wok should I be looking for? I have an electric stove which is not ideal. Many moons ago, we bought (and then got rid of) a Le Creuset wok which had a big capacity but a nonstick interior. We could use any utensil to stir fry which didn’t scratch it. So that didn’t work out so well.

We’ve been using this Wok for more than a year. We love its performance. Much more versatile then using “only” for Stir Fry:

https://www.wayfair.com/kitchen-tabletop/pdp/cuisinart-12-in-non-stick-aluminum-wok-with-lid-cui2477.html

Terrific Owners Manual. We followed the simple Seasoning Instructions and the Wok is a breeze to clean after use. It is heavy, tho, so it’s my sole responsibility to heft it, and clean it. We have a glass electric cook top on our stove, and the wok preforms terrifically on this surface. Manufacturer does specify that the heat source should never be set above “half” when using this.

We paid $39.95 on Wayfair, so it does go on sale a few times a year. Good luck in your search.

1 Like

I use a 35cm carbon steel wok. It needs to be seasoned before use and every time after you use it but it’s built up a good non stick coating. Obviously just clean with warm water. I’m very happy with it and it’s ideal for 2 people. Even so when I cook char kway teow it’s a bit difficult because of the size of the noodles and the amount of food in the wok. More food is going to reduce the overall temperature. I’m not sure how big your wok was but I think a 2 person portion is the most I would cook in a wok unless it’s a vegetable side dish.

2 Likes

With an electric stove I don’t think that a wok is the answer. The shallow stainless steel pot should be fine. Add your meat and let it sear for 1 minute, then stir and toss it for another minute and remove it from the pot. Add a bit more oil and add your cooked noodles. Stir and toss the entire time. After a few minutes add the vegetables and meat and any sauce. Keep tossing for a minute, and serve.

3 Likes

Well, that’s certainly a cheaper alternative :). Your method is effectively what I’ve been doing. Maybe I haven’t gotten the desired char on the noodles because I don’t add enough oil. But I add some, and the noodles definitely stick to the bottom of it.

That’s the kind of stove we have too. Do you have to be super gentle when you’re cooking to not damage the nonstick surface?

I.e. to get the best dish, don’t crowd the pan, eh? Where did you find your wok? Would you be able to send a photo? Does it resemble the thinnish all metal ones sold at Asian groceries? I guess that’s not super descriptive… Sorry :frowning:

1 Like

Yes definitely don’t crowd the wok.
It seems thicker than the ones you find at most Chinese shops.
I actually got mine from TK Maxx. It’s by Dexam. Mine is the same as this one on the link but it doesn’t have the second handle.
https://www.tkmaxx.com/uk/en/home/home-rooms/kitchen/35cm-carbon-steel-wok/p/78084626

Not so far. We only use wooden utensils and a couple of vintage poly-whatever utensils when cooking with this Wok. Avoid any metal utensils–even spoons.

2 Likes

Thank you. That’s very much what I had in my mind’s eye when I was contemplating buying one. Do you have trouble with things sticking unless you add a lot of oil?

Do you mix the cooked noodles with a little oil before they go into the pan?

I haven’t. Is that the trick? I just put a tbsp or two in the pot first. Actually come to think of it, for the Thai stir fries, I only soak the noodles - don’t cook them in advance.

Look, a wok is just a pot, like any other pot. I do have a wok, and I love it, but I have a strong gas flame to put it on. When you cook noodles in a pan or a wok, you have to keep them constantly in motion. Some oil helps. If the noodles are cooked in advance, drain them, put them in a bowl, and mix them with a tablespoon of oil With soaked Thai noodles, make sure you have enough oil in the pan. And toss them with two wooden or plastic utensils, one in each hand.

I’ve always cooked on electric. My wok, which I’ve had for years, is the antithesis of all the usual recommendations for a good one. By that, I mean, it’s non-stick and dishwasher proof. It takes a little while to heat up from the hob (but that’s the same with any pan on electric) but once it gets going, it’s fine. I’ve never cooked more than a two portion dish and doubt I would be happy doing a bigger one.

1 Like

Well, I’ve learned a couple of important things so far. First, don’t overcrowd the wok!!! Second, there are varying opinions about woking on gas v electric, and on regular metal vs nonstick. People like both. Can you get the famous “wok hau” i.e. char and char flavor on a nonstick? Or on a new wok of any kind? I’m guessing it has to be a nice old wok, much used, and perhaps you can get there with nonstick but it takes longer. Oh, and finally, that a good noodle stir fry needs enough lubricant, unless it is going to be a mushy noodle mess.

No.

4 Likes

Not famous to me, I’m afraid. I have no expertise in this sort of cooking so am not sure what to expect and whether I get it from my non-stick. But, seeing as all the recommendations for “good woks” are against non-sticks, then I most probably don’t get it. Been happy with this wok for a goodly number of years and there’s life in it still, so no plans to change - it only gets used maybe once every couple of months or so.

1 Like

This is a great thread. I’ve wanted to buy a wok for a couple years now, but cannot settle on one.

Greg, what do you use in the meantime, and do you have any successes, tips, or fails to share?

1 Like

For stir fry? I just use my cast iron skillet. I find it gives a similar flavor to those well-used, well-seasoned woks we see in Chinese restaurants.

If I’m feeling lazy, I use a deep Calphalon pan.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold