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Chinese Cooking Utensils and Tools -
The Indispensable Wok

The wok is probably the most famous Chinese cooking utensil. Everyone knows what a wok is; however, very few westerners use it, while almost every single Chinese use it everyday.

As the most 'useful' Chinese cooking utensil (or tool), the wok is designed with a round bottom that fits perfectly over a traditional Chinese 'stove' - often made of clay or mud which burned wood or charcoal.

The wok's shape makes it the ideal Chinese tool for stir-frying. The round bottom makes sure the ingredients remains in the center where the heat is most intense. With a little oil, you can almost stir-fry anything in under 5 minutes.

The wok is an all purpose Chinese cooking utensil that you can use for almost any type of cooking such as steaming, stewing, braising, smoking, and of course, stir-frying. With its original round bottom design, the wok isn't ideal to use on the flat stove tops. Most round bottom woks comes with a steal ring, that helps secure it in place while you cook.

You can now get flat bottom woks that sits nicely over an stove element; however, I still prefer to use the round bottom woks. You can find many different types of woks now - Teflon woks, round bottom woks, flat bottoms, double handle and single handle woks.

So what's right for you? After all, the wok is the most used Chinese cooking utensil.

The double handled wok is the more popular type than the single handle wok. It sits over your stove top with an adapter ring under it to hold it in place. Any tossing would be difficult with the double handle woks.

The single handle woks are excellent for tossing the ingredients. The long handle gives you good leverage for flipping the wok and tossing the ingredients.

What do I think of electric woks? Don't use them. They lack the power to generate enough heat for a good, quick stir-fry. The key to a successful stir-fry is all in the temperature. Gas burning stoves are the best, then electric stoves. Learn about Chinese cooking and cooking techniques here.

Chinese cooking utensil - seasoning the wok. Most woks are made from carbon steel or iron. Before you use your new wok, you need to season it. Here's how:

First clean the wok in warm water with a stiff brush. Dry it, and then heat the wok on a stove to high, then pour in a tablespoon of vegetable oil. Use a cloth or paper towel and thoroughly wipe the inside of the wok with the oil. Careful not to burn yourself. Turn off the heat, and let the wok cool, now your wok is seasoned.

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