Paul has been passionate about preparing, cooking, and eating healthy food for over 30 years. Born in the UK, he now lives in Florida.
I've been cooking with a wok now for over 35 years, and I love everything about these pans.
There are so many benefits associated with woks. They're versatile, hard-wearing, economical, and they produce food that's tasty, healthy, and usually quick to make.
I thought it would be great to list all of the positives and explain why I love these pans so much.
10 Benefits of Wok Cookery
Here are the 10 biggest positives:
- One Pan Cooking
- Bulk Food
- Easy Prep
- No Expensive Additional Equipment
- Long Lasting
I examine each advantage of cooking with a wok in more detail below.
While woks can be used for a variety of cooking tasks, they are most commonly used for stir-frying, a quick and healthy way to prepare food.
These pans cook food quickly for two main reasons:
- Stir-frying is by its very nature a fast way to prepare food, as the intention is to blast the ingredients with high heat for a short time.
- Woks are cleverly designed to spread the high heat around the pan efficiently, resulting in food that is quickly and evenly cooked.
The stir-fry technique creates food that is full of flavor. The combination of stirring and the evenly spread high heat that woks provide works to seal in the taste.
One easy way that food is spoiled is through over-cooking. Stir-frying with a wok greatly reduces the chances of this happening.
Although woks are perhaps primarily associated with stir-frying, they are actually much more versatile in the sorts of meals that they can be used to prepare.
They can be used for steaming, poaching, deep-frying, braising, boiling, searing, stewing, and smoking food. They do almost everything that a traditional frying pan can do and often better.
Wok cookery is a great way to make healthy food.
This is because stir-fried meals are typically made using fresh, healthy ingredients, the high heat requires less oil than traditional frying, and the quick cooking process retains the food's nutrients.
5. One-Pan Cooking
If I was to be put on a desert island and could only take a single pan, it would be a wok.
A big part of their appeal is that you can use one wok instead of multiple pans. That means less storage space is used up. It's when I've only had access to a compact kitchen, that I've appreciated them the most.
It's also more economic to buy one pan and single pan cookery is easy, fun, and healthy.
6. Bulk Food
One feature of woks that makes them better than traditional frying pans for certain tasks is their larger usable volume. The shape and higher edges of a wok mean you can cook much greater amounts of food than with a frying pan.
You can cook for more guests, or make a larger volume of food in one go to save for later.
7. Easy Prep
Making a stir-fry is straightforward, quick and simple. In essence, you choose your fresh ingredients and cut everything into bite-size pieces for even cooking. Then you heat up your oil in the wok and toss the ingredients in.
For sure, some wok meals can be more complicated, but stir-fries are typically quick and simple meals.
The wok cooking process means that the food keeps a lot of its texture and doesn't become soggy or greasy.
Vegetables keep their crunch and crispness, while meats and seafood don't absorb lots of fat.
Woks are also great for cooking healthy foods like tofu, which is high in protein, but low in cholesterol and calories.
9. No Expensive Additional Equipment
The essentials of wok cookery just require a few basic and affordable utensils:
- Something to stir the pan with, such as a wooden spoon.
- A scraper for getting all the food.
- Something to clean the wok with.
There are other pieces of equipment that can be added, such as a serving spoon and a lid for the wok, but it's essentially an affordable way to prepare food.
10. Long Lasting
With proper maintenance, a good wok can literally last you a lifetime. Generally speaking, you should avoid using soap to clean the pan. Instead, the wok should be soaked in hot water for five minutes.
This helps to detach any stuck-on food and enables you to wash the interior with hot water and a soft sponge. The exterior can be cleaned with hot water and a scrubber sponge.
The pan can then be dried by placing over low heat before storage.
Which Oil Is Best For Cooking With a Wok?
Cooking with a wok means employing a lot of heat and so you need an oil with a high smoking point and low polyunsaturated fat content.
Examples of good oils to use are:
Depending on the recipe, many dishes can also benefit from a little splash of sesame oil for taste purposes. However, this oil should only be added at the very end of the cooking process, as it has a low smoke point.
Extra virgin olive oil should never be used as it will create a burnt taste, if cooked at a high temperature.
Which Wok to Choose?
Woks come in different shapes and sizes and can be constructed from different materials. I've used various types over the years.
One important distinguishing feature, for instance, is whether the wok has a round or flat bottom. This is important because the wok you require depends on the heating source that you'll be using it with.
Other factors to consider can include things like the style of the handles and whether or not the pan is covered in a non-stick coating.
As far as construction materials go, I'm a big fan of carbon steel woks. Carbon steel conducts heat very effectively, it is also lightweight, durable, and relatively affordable compared to other materials.
For my full thoughts on carbon steel woks, along with three specific wok recommendations, please see my article: The 3 Best Carbon Steel Woks for the Home Kitchen.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Paul Goodman