One of the most invaluable tools in any Asian kitchen is of course, the wok. The type of wok you need depends on whether you have an electric or gas range. Home cooks with gas stoves are most lucky as nothing beats the quality or speed at which fabulous food is produced on real fire. However, with the proper tools, you can create great dishes on either type of stove.
If you have a gas stove, you can use the traditional and original cast-iron wok with its rounded bottom. Make sure to find one with a long, sturdy handle on one side rather than the two short handles on either side. Unless you’re a professional wok chef, working without a handle will be extremely difficult. Depending on the exact shape of your gas stove, you may also need a wok ring to stabilize its position.
For those of you with an electric stove, you’ll do best with a carbon steel wok with a flat bottom so it can sit properly on the range. This too should have a long, sturdy handle. When purchasing a wok, don’t be afraid to look it over carefully and run your hands all over it, roughly yanking at the parts to ensure that it is in fact, a sturdy model. There are plenty of people who have all types of fancy methods of caring for a wok but most of those steps are really unnecessary for modern day woks.
If you’re handling a brand new wok, simply pour a few tablespoons of vegetable oil on a paper towel and rub thoroughly all over the inside of the wok. Place the wok on the stove on high heat until smoke rises. Tilt the wok in every direction so all parts of the wok come into contact with the heat. Do this for just a couple of minutes. Remove the wok from the heat and cool. Once it has cooled, rinse thoroughly under warm water and air dry. Once you begin using the wok regularly, make sure to use a soft sponge to clean with soap and water. Never use harsh bristles or any type of steel wool sponge. When working with the carbon steel type woks, also make sure to use only wooden or silicone spatulas and never metal ones that can scrape and ruin the wok.