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There are now stainless-steel versions of wok, although it is generally not recommended. Stainless-steel is not a good heat conductor, which defeats purpose of Chinese cuisine that relies heavily on quick cooking on high heat. They sure look nice, but would you rather have a nice looking wok, or a tastebud-tickling, mouth-watering gourmet dish? The answer should be obvious. Woks with non-stick coatings are not desirable, either. They all inevitably scratch and food gets stuck to metal, ruining taste, smell, presentation of dishes, not to mention extra effort needed in cleaning wok. In addition, high heat required for Chinese cooking may eventually damage non-stick coating. A well-seasoned wok will last forever, where as a non-stick wok will inevitably need a replacement over time.
There is an enamel-lined version where there are no reactions between metal and food, which makes it a nice alternative. But, if a steel carbon wok is seasoned well (covered in Part 3), it will become virtually non-stick, and will work better than any other versions out there. If you must buy one with a non-stick surface, we recommend purchasing a hard-anodized, or heavy-gauged aluminum wok, but downside of that is that they are very expensive. Why spend a big wad of money on an expensive wok when you can get one that will do a better job, at a fraction of a price, right?
The bottom line is, if you're serious about cooking Chinese food, and create dishes that taste authentically Chinese, pick a round-bottomed, carbon steel wok, and include a wok ring as an accessory (if necessary) to balance it on stove.
In Part 3 of Wok this way! we'll cover all important subject of “Seasoning” a new wok
Helen Fan grew up in a family that has owned various Asian restaurants all over North America, from Vancouver (Canada), Houston (Texas), Decatur (Illinois), to Chicago (Illinois). She, and the rest of the Fan family are now sharing their decades of knowledge on the art of Chinese cuisine at http://www.ChineseHomeCooking.Com