If you enjoy the taste and simplicity of a stir fry, having a wok will facilitate the quick frying action needed, and the wonderful flavors that come from it.
But, in today’s marketplace, there’s a lot of variety to choose from. There are traditional woks that require seasoning and will develop their own flavor with each use, and there are those of a more contemporary nature, suitable for people who prefer to clean their pans after each use, or who enjoy the aesthetics of a polished collection of cookware.
So, to help with the decision process, let’s have a brief look at the history of the wok and its characteristics. Then we’ll go over some product reviews, covering both customary and modern versions of this superb cooking pan.
The wok is considered to be one of the most versatile cooking pans, perfect for stir frying and to use in recipes like our lemon chicken quinoa bowls. A fairly recent development in cookware, its use can be verified in China some 2,000 years ago. However, historians and metallurgists can’t agree if it was invented there, or if the wok is a utensil originally borrowed from other cultures.
Regardless of its country of origin, it is one of the most common cooking pans used today throughout Asia, and is now well known and loved in the western hemisphere as well.
The earliest evidence of woks were pottery models in found in Chinese tombs equipped with ovens for the afterlife, and archeology records the first metal woks as dating from the Han Dynasty, circa 200 BC-200 AD.
As pans of a similar shape and size were used in in India and Southeast Asia as well, archeologists speculate that the Chinese wok is an idea that was adopted from neighboring regions. These people used metal buckets turned upside down to serve as braziers for the quick frying of foods – the origins of stir frying.
Its first purpose was for drying grains, and much later farmers adapted it for the spreading and drying of tea leaves. Evidence of the thin slicing of foods, a preparation technique used in stir frying, is first found in the mid-1200s.
It was during the 13th century that tribes of central Asian nomads were expanding their territories.
Most were very open to adopting and adapting the technologies of the surrounding cultures that they traveled through.