Best Wok for Deep Frying

by Bob | Last Updated:  November 1, 2020
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If you like fried food, a wok is an excellent choice for preparing your favorite deep-fried food and a much better solution than any pan or deep fryer.

The wok is ideal for deep frying. In a standard pan, you need to add a lot of oil to reach a level sufficient to soak the food you are about to prepare.

The curved and tapered bottom of the best wok for deep frying creates extra depth and requires less oil, making frying more efficient and economical.

Proper use of a wok gives a unique taste to your meals, which cannot be obtained by preparing in another type of pan.

Below are a few woks that I suggest when deep frying. I like these woks because they have two handles, have deep sides, and are round-bottomed. I would not use a flat-bottomed wok to deep fry.

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From the beginning

As one of the essential kitchen tools, the wok under various names and variations of shape is in daily use throughout the world.

With the growing popularity of Chinese cuisine wok (and its alternatives) is spreading every day to new corners of the world. Due to the relative speed and ease of meal preparation, the wok is becoming increasingly popular among recreational chefs eager for new and exotic flavors they will prepare in front of an audience. 

Previous centuries

Best wok for deep frying seems to have originated when people mastered the forging of iron simultaneously throughout Asia under various names.

According to the latest research, it arrived in China via trade routes from India. The Mongols carried it everywhere with them because the wok was robust and easy to maintain. They are also credited for bringing the Wok to India, Tibet, Nepal, and even the Middle East. In these areas, and worldwide, the wok is used in an almost unchanged form even today.

The wok originates from Mongolian dishes. It is a multi-purpose oval dish with a characteristic appearance that is mainly used for frying (deep or shallow), although it can be used for almost all food heat treatment methods. 

Food in the Wok can be steamed, cooked as a soup, smoked, simmered, fried, poached, etc. The size of the pan can vary from eleven inches to almost eighty inches in diameter. 

Since the pan is hot during food processing, and the food is mostly mixed by shaking during preparation, each wok has at least one ring-shaped handle.

It is either made as an integral part of the bowl or fastened with rivets. Another one is ring-shaped or flat. The handles may or may not be covered with thermal insulation material (wood, bamboo).

Due to the extreme heating of the pan during cooking, the original woks have mostly exposed handles, so the chefs always have a thick cloth, which allows them to manipulate their large pans without burns.

The lid is part of the wok, mostly used for steaming or smoking food. The spatulas used for steering have characteristic long handles to avoid burns during cooking.

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What materials is the wok made of?

The wok is made of various metals or metal combinations, but the original wok is made of wrought steel or cast iron. Aluminum and its composites are too fragile for a rough Chinese cooking style, while modern types of material make the dish too heavy, bulky, and expensive. 

The quality of the wok depends on whether it is made of one or more metal layers, whether the finish layer is manual or machine-made, and on the quality of iron or steel. Also, modern dishes with a Teflon coating that serves to protect against adhesion are not suitable for the traditional way of cooking because Teflon evaporates and cracks at high temperatures.

Experiments with the wok’s shape and material are underway, but a complete and high-quality modern alternative to the classic wok has not yet been found. Some prefer a carbon steel wok when it comes to a wok made of traditional material, and others prefer a cast iron wok. 

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Those who prefer to use a carbon steel wok state its relative lightness facilitates the natural rolling of the dish in food preparation. Small irregularities in the shape created by forging (if hand-forged) allow the selective distribution of food. 

The meat should be fried in a pan the parts where the temperature is higher, while another type of food (vegetables) is processed in the lower part of the wok, where the temperature is higher. 

Since iron is prone to corrosion, the newly purchased pan needs to be prepared for use by removing corrosion by scrubbing, multiple oil coatings, and heating at high temperatures to create a dark protective film on the container that prevents corrosion. 

Here is a short video on how I season a wok the easy way.

Once prepared, the wok should no longer be scrubbed or cleaned with abrasives, so it will not remove the seasoning. It is also possible to buy a wok that has already been seasoned. The more the wok is used, the darker it will become, and experts claim that it is tastier. Also, the protective film prevents the food from sticking to the pan during cooking.

How to prepare food?

The technology of food preparation in a wok depends on the chosen technique. However, even in China, dishes of different shapes and purposes are used to heat water, cook soup, and prepare food that requires a longer heat treatment time, if available. 

The wok is most commonly used for quick food preparation as follows. First, the dish is dry-heated well until it begins to smoke. Second, add the oil. Oil should be resistant to high temperatures, such as avocado oil, peanut oil, soybean, sesame, or sunflower. The use of olive oil, butter, or animal fats is not recommended.

Then, the next step is to add garlic, onions, herbs for a maximum of one minute to release the aroma, after which they are removed from the oil so as not to burn. It is followed by the addition of food that needs more prolonged exposure to heat (meat, beans) and their frying with constant stirring (shaking the dish).

The important thing is not to add too much food at once so that the food, due to the drop in temperature in the pan, does not start to cook and become too soft. 

The first processed food is moved along the edge or completely removed from the wok, and the next ingredient is placed in the pan. Finally, all the food is mixed in the bowl again with a small amount of starchy liquid to give the dish a characteristic structure. When preparing, it is not uncommon for the pan’s temperature to be so high that the frying oil in the pan ignites, which also affects the experience and aroma of the final product.

Cooking in a wok

The benefits of a wok are undeniable. The round wok with round bottom fit perfectly into the openings on the stoves and the open flame, where it can be heated to a high temperature with a relatively small amount of fuel. 

The rounded bottom enabled savings in another resource – cooking oil, because the wok, due to its shape, consumes less oil to prepare the same amount of food than classic pans.

Cooking food cut to bite-size also contributes to short preparation time and energy savings. The original shape of the dish is not adapted to Western ovens because, due to the round bottom, the dish is unstable. This problem is solved by applying a unique ring in which you place the wok.

In professional kitchens, the wok has been given a special place, as manufacturers have created individual thermal devices with a concave surface adapted to the wok’s shape. 

Particularly interesting are induction wok-cookers, which are considered the fastest way to prepare the dish, due to the high speed of heating food in the pan, surrounded on almost all sides by a heat source. 

There are also gas wok cookers with a burner, where the wok is immersed in a heat source, and flat-bottomed pans are also used, which fit better on most stoves and can also be used on hotplates. The problem of uneven heat distribution in the wok arises, and food tends to stick to the joint of the flat and rounded part. 

Because cooking in a wok requires a high operating temperature, electric hotplates are impractical. It is also impossible to altogether remove heated, processed food from such a flat-bottomed dish, which makes cooking more difficult. 

Some woks are flat-bottomed on the outside and rounded on the inside and will satisfy those who cook for a smaller number of people because, due to the pan’s weight, the use of larger woks is impossible. 

The wok below has a flat bottom so it sits solidly on your stove top burners. However, the inside of this wok is round which is perfect for deep frying.

The conclusion

For preparing most East Asian cuisine dishes, the wok remains an unavoidable, irreplaceable, and necessary tool.

Finally, for all the deep-fried dishes fans, there is no better way to prepare the meals than using the best wok for deep frying in a way that was described previously in a text.