What is a Mandarin Wok?

by R7eagle | Last Updated:  May 7, 2021
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When you are considering purchasing a wok it can be difficult to find the right wok for you. There are many styles of woks. There are Mandarin, Cantonese, POW woks, and a few others.

Mandarin woks usually have only one long handle.  This long handle is made of steel with a wooden or bamboo insert or can be without an insert. Mandarin woks do not have the shorter steel helper handle found on Cantonese (Southern Chinese) or Northern Chinese woks (POW woks).

Some woks have two short steel helper handles and I will call them helper handles because I don’t know what else to call them. Oher woks have one short steel helper handle and a longer handle of varying lengths. Some of those longer handles on woks are made of carbon steel and they have wood or bamboo inserted in them.

Mandarin Woks

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Cantonese Woks

Cantonese woks are also called Southern Chinese woks and have two small steel helper handles.  A purest on the subject of woks would also say that Cantonese woks are shallower than Mandarin or Northern Chinese woks. Most of the Cantonese woks that I have seen have the same pan depth as all the other woks. Almost all of the woks that I have recommended on this site all have the same depth if they are the same diameter. In other words, all 14-inch woks by different manufacturers have about the same depth. This confusing fact should not be a determining factor in your decision to purchase a wok.

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POW Woks

Northern Chinese woks (POW woks) are deeper and have one small steel helper handle and one long handle.

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All three of these wok styles can be hand-hammered or pressed. They also can be round-bottomed or flat-bottomed.

The traditional woks have rounded bottoms and are hand-hammered. When a wok is hand-hammered the sides are not as smooth as pressed carbon steel woks. This allows the food to stick to the sides instead of falling back to the bottom of the pan. When the food sticks to the sides of the wok, it is easier to control the heat on the side of the pan.

Round-Bottom Woks

[amalinkspro type=”showcase” asin=”B07HKZBMZ9″ apilink=”https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07HKZBMZ9?tag=wokowner-20&linkCode=osi&th=1&psc=1″ associate-id=”” new-window=”1″ addtocart=”0″ nofollow=”1″ sc-id=”4″ imgs=”LargeImage” link-imgs=”false” stack-imgs=”false” specs=”Pre-seasoned —All carbon steel woks must be seasoned before use, but this wok has been completed by artisans, save you time and trouble .~~~Perfect details(Round bottom) —1.8 mm thick pot wall,hand-welded one-piece handle, joint reinforcement, will not fall off.Imported red eucalyptus handle, comfortable and durable, anti-scalding~~~No coating —No chemical coating, less smoke and easier cleaning than other iron pans~~~Physical characteristics —Traditional Chinese wok, cold forging and hammer hand, make the original iron plate more dense, physical non-stick~~~Maintenance of wok and after-sales policy —After each use(cant be cleaned with steel balls), remember to dry the water droplets with cotton cloth or dry it with a small fire to improve the service life and no rust, healthier.” btn-color=”#ff9900″ btn-text=”Buy on Amazon” alignment=”alignnone” hide-prime=”0″ hide-image=”0″ hide-price=”0″ hide-button=”0″]Pre-Seasoned Carbon Steel Pow Wok Red Elm Traditional Hand Hammered Stir-Fry Pan with Helper Wooden handle (14 Inch, Round Bottom Wok)[/amalinkspro]

Round-bottomed woks are usually used on gas stoves with a wok ring or used on a wok burner. The distribution of heat on a round-bottomed wok is more linear than on a flat-bottomed wok.

Flat-bottomed woks came into being mostly for the Western world because of gas stoves. Gas stoves with wok rings can work on a marginal basis, but they cannot quite compete with round-bottomed woks for a variety of reasons.

Flat-Bottomed Woks

[amalinkspro type=”showcase” asin=”B0836FPMRH” apilink=”https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0836FPMRH?tag=wokowner-20&linkCode=osi&th=1&psc=1″ associate-id=”” new-window=”1″ addtocart=”0″ nofollow=”1″ sc-id=”4″ imgs=”LargeImage” link-imgs=”false” stack-imgs=”false” specs=”Our woks and pans were chosen and filmed by A Bite of China. It helps us getting more attention but also more and more low-quality counterfeits flooding the market.~~~Every wok has been through 12 processes, 36,000 times of hand-hammering. You can see all the hammer prints but hardly feel them. The hammered surface absorb less oil than ordinary woks.~~~It is nonstick because iron is reactive and will form a protective layer of iron oxide during use. Its color will change during use when forming the protection layer until it becomes black. Please do not compare to your nonstick wok, it is recommended to use big fire high heat to preheat the wok before adding oil and ingredients. It conducts heat faster than coated nonstick woks so that it can lock the juice and nutrition inside the food.~~~Flat bottom, both induction and gas stove suitable. It is an iron wok that can be passed on for generations. It has nothing but iron.~~~It has been seasoned and you only need to wash it when you receive it. Iron gets rusted in water, so please dry it after use. Wipe a layer of oil over the cooking surface if you do not want to use it for a while. Dishwasher not safe.” btn-color=”#ff9900″ btn-text=”Buy on Amazon” alignment=”alignnone” hide-prime=”0″ hide-image=”0″ hide-price=”0″ hide-button=”0″]ZhenSanHuan HandHammered Iron Wok Flat Bottom Induction Suitable (32cm IronHandle with Help)[/amalinkspro]

If you have a gas stove, then a flat-bottomed will work without a wok ring. If you want to use a round-bottomed wok on a gas stove then you will have to use a wok ring order to concentrate the heat into a smaller area and to stabilize the wok.

Wok Rings

[amalinkspro type=”showcase” asin=”B08226NWYM” apilink=”https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08226NWYM?tag=wokowner-20&linkCode=osi&th=1&psc=1″ associate-id=”” new-window=”1″ addtocart=”0″ nofollow=”1″ sc-id=”4″ imgs=”LargeImage” link-imgs=”false” stack-imgs=”false” specs=”This cold forged plated steel wok ring is a vital piece of cookware for any Asian food eating establishment~~~Wok rack has a innovative design is a very help tool for round bottom wok to use~~~Used to support woks when cooking on a regular range, a wok ring sits on top of your existing burner and ensures that your wok won’t slide around while you’re cooking~~~Used to support woks when cooking on a regular range, wok ring should typically be 4 smaller than the desired wok diameter~~~Dimensions about: height is 1.37 Inches, bottom diameter is 9¾-Inch, top diameter is 7¾-Inch.” btn-color=”#ff9900″ btn-text=”Buy on Amazon” alignment=”alignnone” hide-prime=”0″ hide-image=”0″ hide-price=”0″ hide-button=”0″]Wok Ring is Suitable for All Woks, Steel Wok Rack 7¾-Inch and 9¾-Inch Reversible Size(2 Pack)[/amalinkspro]