If you are fond of Asian recipes, you need a wok in your kitchen. These large bowl-shaped pans are perfect for cooking at high temperatures. They can also concentrate sauces and liquids in the center, hence reducing the need for too much oil. But given all these features and benefits, you may still base your decision to buy a wok on whether it is non-stick or not. So, do woks have Teflon?
Not all woks have Teflon. Nonetheless, there are woks with Teflon coating available in the market. Traditional woks are made up of cast iron or carbon steel. These woks do not have a non-stick layer. The woks that have Teflon coating on them usually have a dark gray or black color on the inside.
Although Teflon coated woks are available, they are not as popular as traditional woks. Let us find out why.
Characteristics Of A Good Wok
You can easily identify a wok by its shape. It has a typical round bottom and high walls.
The round bottom makes it easy to toss food around.
The flat and even shape makes it possible to push some of the ingredients to the sides while the rest of it cooks in the center.
This continuous stirring and tossing of food ensures even cooking.
Hence, woks make food preparation quick and easy.
Woks distribute heat evenly throughout the metal.
It affects the way the food is cooked and improves its flavor and texture.
Although woks are big, they are light and easy to handle.
Hence, you can toss the ingredients and drag it across the stove without much effort.
Different Types Of Woks – Which One Is The Best?
Traditional woks are made of cast iron and carbon steel.
Nowadays, more varieties are available. So, you can choose the one that suits your needs.
Given below the different types of woks and their pros and cons.
Carbon Steel Woks
Carbon steel is preferred for traditional Chinese cooking because it heats evenly and quickly.
The material is durable and lightweight.
With proper care, carbon steel woks last for a long time and can even be passed down generations.
However, carbon steel is porous. So, you will have to season these woks before using them.
With continuous use, these woks become naturally seasoned.
However, it can take longer than cast iron to develop a layer of seasoning.
Once the natural protective layer is formed, it is as good as a non-stick pan.
The performance of a carbon steel wok depends on the method of construction and the quality of the material used.
Low-quality woks will not heat food evenly and can easily lose shape.
Better quality woks are made with thick gauge steel that is forged into a perfectly round shape.
Carbon steel woks are magnetic. So, you can use them on induction hobs.
Cast Iron Woks
The original Chinese cast iron wok is thin and lightweight.
You can handle it just as easily as a carbon steel wok.
However, the modern versions are thick and heavy. So, cooking takes longer in these woks.
The benefit of a cast iron wok is that it is easy to season.
Once the wok develops a protective coating, food will not stick to it.
These woks heat up quickly and retain heat for a long time.
So, you can take them off the stovetop quickly, and the food will continue to cook in the residual heat.
However, there are chances that the food will overcook due to this heat retention property of cast iron.
A cast iron wok will also take a long time to cool down.
Since woks made of cast iron are magnetic, you can use them on induction stovetops.
Non-stick woks are made of metal with a protective non-stick Teflon coating.
The non-stick layer makes cooking easy as you will not have to manually season the wok.
Non-stick woks are usually lightweight and not as expensive as traditional woks.
However, non-stick woks with Teflon do not produce the same flavor as a cast iron or carbon steel wok.
Additionally, not all non-stick woks can withstand the high cooking temperature of authentic Asian recipes.
Exposure to high heat can cause the protective layer to peel off.
This will ruin the appearance and compromise the taste of the food.
Newer non-stick woks can withstand high temperatures.
However, they do not deliver the distinct and satisfying “wok-hei” or characteristic taste of wok-cooked food.
Non-stick Teflon and PFA coatings may not hold up as well as carbon steel or cast iron.
To retain the smooth appearance and prevent the non-stick layer from peeling, avoid using metal spoons or ladles for stirring and tossing ingredients.
You should also be very careful while cleaning.
Avoid abrasive detergents and cleaning liquids to preserve the protective layer.
Stainless Steel Woks
Stainless steel is naturally smooth, which makes it a good choice for a wok.
It has a glossy, polished, metallic sheen and silver color.
It is easy to clean and is non-porous. These woks do not stain. They do not retain odors and are easy to clean.
An additional advantage of stainless-steel woks is that they are light and can withstand high temperatures.
Aluminum and anodized aluminum woks are lightweight and easy to use.
However, they heat up and cool down rather quickly.
Aluminum woks do not have non-stick properties, and they will not develop the layer of seasoning that imparts a characteristic flavor to Asian recipes.
They are also prone to lose shape and are often not as durable as traditional woks of carbon steel or cast iron.
Aluminum woks are usually more budget-friendly than other types of woks.
Related Further Reading:
- Using Pans on an Induction Stovetop
- What are the Problems of Putting Pans Inside a Fridge?
- What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Washing Different Types of Pans in a Dishwasher?
- Should All Types of Skillets Go in the Dishwasher?
Types Of Woks Based On The Position Of Handles
Apart from the material used for construction, woks are differentiated by the location of their handles.
They can either have two handles or a single long handle.
Woks with two short handles on either side are Cantonese woks.
You may find it difficult to flip or toss ingredients in such woks.
However, they are good for boiling or cooking food with stirring.
Mandarin woks have a single long handle.
They are perfect for tossing and flipping ingredients.
Seasoned chefs do not even need a spoon to toss the ingredients around in these woks.
It is easier to handle Mandarin woks, and they are ideally suited for stir-fry recipes.
Which Type Of Wok Is The Best?
The wide variety of options can cause confusion when you go shopping for a wok.
We recommend selecting from the different options based on your specific needs.
For stir-frying or cooking at high temperatures, traditional woks of carbon steel or cast iron are ideal.
A stainless steel wok will also work at high temperatures.
Aluminum woks are best for ingredients that cook quickly, like fish and eggs.
You can use woks for much more than just preparing stir-fries.
You can boil, deep-fry, roast, sear, smoke, steam, and even prepare stews in these woks.
Interesting Further Reading:
- Can Woks Become Rusty?
- How to Choose a Good Quality Wok for Your Electric Stove?
- Is it Advisable to Cook with a Wok Inside an Oven?
- Are Cast Iron Skillets Compatible with Glass Cooktops?
To Wrap It Up…
Woks with non-stick Teflon coatings are abundantly available these days.
However, these woks seldom produce the same flavors as traditional woks.
If you prefer the authentic taste of Asian recipes, opt for a cast iron or carbon steel wok.
Although these are usually more expensive than Teflon-coated non-stick woks, their cost is justified because of the health benefits, durability, and authentic taste they guarantee.