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Woks and Stir Fry Pans

Sometimes a frying pan just isn't enough. For large dishes that need frying, such as stir fries and other Chinese or Asian cuisine, you need something bigger and better suited to the job – a wok. Woks are traditional Chinese cooking tools consisting of a large deep dish with handles at either side. They traditionally have a round base and would sit amongst the flames of the fire so that the whole dish is heated by the flames. Since Chinese cooking at home has become more popular, woks have entered British kitchens, but the design has been slightly adapted to fit our cooking stoves. Most woks will now have flat bases so that they can sit properly on a hob and are easier to control. Many will also have a long handle on one side so that you can use the pan like you would a frying pan. You can even find special stir fry pans that are somewhere between a normal frying pan and a wok – retaining the high sides of a wok but with the flat surface of a frying pan, making it much easier to keep the pan steady on the hob but allowing you to stir and toss your veg and meat around to capture all the flavours.

Old style woks are very heavy, usually made of cast iron, but more modern versions are now cast steel woks, aluminium, non-stick or ceramic woks. Cast steel, aluminium and non-stick woks will be light and quick to heat, but may not perform as well in terms of retaining heat or seasoning the pan (adding a layer of oil or grease for flavour and non-stick). Ceramic woks will retain heat and be non-stick, so a wok with a ceramic coating could be a good option.

There are a range of sizes and designs of woks and stir fry pans available, so take a look through the products listed here to find one that offers the features you need and will fit in with the rest of your kitchen cookware. Remember to check that your chosen wok will work on the type of hob you have – gas, electric or induction.
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