Chowhound Presents: Table Talk with Nadine Levy Redzepi of Downtime: Deliciousness at Home | Ask Your Questions Now ›


Carbon Steel Cast Iron Woks

Must I trade my cast iron wok for carbon steel?


Cookware 53

Must I trade my cast iron wok for carbon steel?

CathleenH | Jan 23, 2013 07:57 PM

Hello all,

I have a cast iron wok. It is not a light Chinese model, but a huge, heavy flat-bottomed model. I chose it in the hopes that its heat-storing capacity would help compensate for the weak output of my gas burners. It certainly helps. If I preheat and am careful not to overload, I can get a passable stir-fry going. My lack of greatness may have as much to do with poor technique as with the wok.

However, I just got Grace Young’s Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge, and I'm wildly inspired to up my game. She adapted the recipes for standard home ranges, and strongly recommends using a flat-bottomed carbon steel wok. She has three objections to cast iron woks:

1. They take a long time to heat up. – This does not seem important to me.

2. They cool slowly, increasing the risk of overcooking the food. – More problematic, but I think I could compensate by removing food quickly.

3. They are unwieldy. She likes long-handled wok that can be easily manipulated with one hand. – This could be serious. My wok has short handles and is so heavy that it can really only remain stationary during the cooking process.

What say the experts? I hate to start a new hobby by spending money on more stuff, and I live in a condo with no space to store two woks. But I would get a steel wok if it will really help me to start turning out great Chinese food. Does my cast iron wok put me at a serious disadvantage?

Want to stay up to date with this post?

Recommended From Chowhound