Wondering what wok to buy after watching an Uncle Roger YouTube video? Consider the 14-inch Joyce Chen Carbon Steel wok. Its size is perfect for small to medium-sized families while its flat bottom ensures that it fits on home stovetops without a wok ring.
- 14-inch diameter, 1.5kg
- 1.5mm gauge carbon steel
- Birch wood handles
- Works on gas, electric and induction stovetops
But before you consider a carbon steel wok, you should know that it requires more upkeep than a non-stick pan. For one, a carbon steel wok needs to be “seasoned” before use. You also need to maintain it properly (dry thoroughly and rub it with a thin layer of oil) to prevent rust.
While I may not be much of a cook, I have watched hours of YouTube videos about woks, from seasoning them to cooking with them. For starters, check out Kenji López-Alt, Chinese Cooking Demystified and Chef Wang on YouTube. Basically, to season a wok is to create a non-stick like surface by decomposing a thin layer of oil using heat. This layer or patina builds up as you continue cooking with the wok. In short, the blacker the wok, the better. There are many YouTube videos on seasoning a wok, but I recommend this one from Serious Eats.
The Joyce Chen comes with a protective layer that prevents rust. Be warned that it took me over 15 mins of vigorous scrubbing with a steel wool and warm soapy water to get most of this layer off. Subsequently, you can start the initial seasoning process. Because of its non-removable wooden handles, you cannot season this wok in an oven, unlike some others.
At around 1.5kg, this wok is not that light. Though the helper handle is handy when I need to use both hands. Overall, this wok strikes a good balance between the thickness of the steel, size and weight. More importantly, treat it well and it will last for years, unlike non-stick pans that inevitably get scratched. Get it for around S$58 on Amazon, but stocks may be limited. Alternatively, check out Lazada or Shopee, but prices may be higher.