In cooking, you need different equipment and tools. However, there might be people who think some things serve the same purpose. Is a wok necessary when you already have a pan at your disposal? Perhaps it’s high time you figure out the answer to this before it’s too late!
Wok VS Pan: What Are They?
If you have spent some time in the kitchen, you have heard of these items. What are these exactly and what roles do they play in your culinary journey?
|Shape||Round-bottomed or flat-bottomed with high sides||Typically flat-bottomed with lower sides|
|Origin||Originates from China||Global usage, no specific origin|
|Usage||Ideal for stir-frying, steaming, deep-frying, etc.||Versatile, used for sautéing, frying, searing, etc.|
|Heat Distribution||Even heat distribution due to its shape||Depends on material, but generally even|
|Material||Commonly made of carbon steel or cast iron||Variety of materials like aluminum, stainless steel, cast iron, non-stick, etc.|
What’s A Pan?
If you are referring to cooking pans, then more or less, you have an idea of what it is. Who doesn’t anyway? But of course, when it comes to this important cooking tool, there’s more than meets the eye.
When it comes to pans, there are so many varieties. With that said, you might need more than one pan in your kitchen, especially if you love cooking. Having just one pan might not be enough at all.
What Are The Different Types of Pans?
If we are talking about this, make sure you take notes. There are just so many kinds. If you think only kitchen professionals need these, then you are wrong!
To make things easier for you, here are the basic ones you should have. There are others out there you can get, later on, depending on your needs.
- Frying Pan
- Griddle Pan
- Roasting Pan
You might start to question why you need so many different pans. If you are cooking different things, you need the proper tools. If you don’t have the correct equipment, you might not be able to do justice to whatever you are cooking and their ingredients.
What Are Pans Made Of?
Pans aren’t just made from one material. They are made of different things. When shopping for pans, you can opt for the following materials:
- Carbon Steel
- Cast Iron
- Non-stick Pans
- Stainless Steel
Given the various materials, each of them has its own pros and cons. You might want to check which ones would work for you and your usual cooking styles.
Some are great heat conductors. Some are good for certain types of cooking. Some are much safer to use than others. If you want to be sure, you can get pans made of different materials. The more choices you have in your kitchen, the better!
Should You Get A Non-Stick Pan?
One of the most popular pans is the ones made from non-stick materials. However, over the years, there have been some controversies surrounding this. It prompted people to ask if it’s safe for them to use this type of pan.
If you have old non-stick pans, consider throwing them out. In the past, non-stick pans were coated with materials that released toxins. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Studies have found that these polyfluorinated compounds (PFASs) are harmful to human beings and the environment.
Some manufacturers of non-stick pans, including the biggest brands, have pledged not to use these types of materials in their products. If you want to know which ones to patronize, make sure you check the brands first.
Best Pan Alternatives
If you are investing in pans, then perhaps these are some of the options you should put on top of the list. Take note that these are just suggestions. Feel free to make your own assessments and figure out which pans work for you.
Cast Iron Pans
If you want something that would last a lifetime, then this type of pan is a must-have. While it’s on the heavier side, it guarantees durability. As this pan is made of cast iron, heat is distributed in the best possible way. It then has the ability to keep the heat for a longer time period.
If you love your steak and salmon, then you can’t miss out on cast iron pans! Once the dishes you are cooking on the cast iron pans are done, you don’t even have to transfer them to serving dishes or platters. You can just serve them as they are.
Stainless Steel Pans
An all stainless steel set of pans in your kitchen would make you look like a professional culinary expert. But beyond the visual impact, stainless steel pans are sturdy and long-lasting. These are some important qualities you need to look for in pans.
Stainless steel pans generally weigh less than cast iron pans. However, if you are considering stainless steel pans with aluminum bases or centers, they might be a bit heavier. Despite the weight, you know that these pans would last you quite some time. If you know how to clean and take care of these stainless steel pans, you can use them for many, many years!
How About A Wok?
The first thing you should learn about woks is that it’s a versatile piece of equipment that you should have in your kitchen. You can trace the origin of the wok from China over two millennia ago.
Historians say the wok was invented around the Han Dynasty. Since then, the wok has become an essential item that has worked wonders in any kitchen. You can always find a wok in almost all Asian households, especially in Chinese ones. Some of your favorite Oritental dishes might have been cooked with the best woks in town!
When you walk into a kitchen, you know you have a wok within your midst when you see something that has a round bottom. It’s a pan that almost resembles a bowl though it has higher sides. The round bottom shape of the wok allows heat to be distributed evenly during the cooking process. It either has one or two handles, usually made of wood or metal.
There are also woks that have flat bottoms. These usually work well with more modern types of cooktops.
What’s The Wok For?
As mentioned, a wok’s versatility in the kitchen is unlike any other. You can use it for various cooking methods like the following:
These are just some of the techniques that you can do with your wok. There are probably some other things that you could do, depending on the dishes you are going to cook.
How To Choose A Wok?
There are a couple of things you should consider if you are shopping for a wok. Just think of these as references. After all, the decision lies in your hands. You are the one who is going to use the wok in your kitchen!
Bottom Of The Wok
As people who cook know, a wok can either have a round or flat bottom. While round-bottomed woks are traditional, flat-bottomed versions are also becoming increasingly popular. If you have the means, maybe get both. However, if you need to choose just one, pick the one that fits well with the kind of cooktop you have.
Are you using an electric or induction cooktop? If the answer is yes, then the better option is the wok with the flat bottom. If you have a gas stove, then go for the round bottom wok. You can still use your flat bottom woks with this one too. Consider it hitting two birds with one stone!
Carbon steel and cast iron are two of the most popular materials for woks. These types of materials are great with heat distribution. They are also very durable, making the wok a worthy investment for the kitchen.
Nowadays, woks come in various materials. An affordable and strong alternative is aluminum woks. This material is perfect because it is a great heat conductor. Stainless steel is also another good option.
If you have the budget, you can try getting copper woks. These are usually pricey, but they are worth it! Copper is also a good conductor of heat, so it’s perfect for woks!
There are also woks out there that are made of non-stick materials. If you are creating a lot of dishes that involve different cooking methods, these are practical options.
Wok Size Matters
Woks come in various sizes. Before deciding which ones to get, you can assess the kinds of cooking you would be doing. You can also look into your own preferences. If you can handle bigger woks, then you should get it! Regardless of the size, if you don’t know the proper techniques, you won’t be able to maximize the use of your wok.
Getting Them Both: Wok VS Pan
When it comes to the whole Wok VS Pan discussion, there shouldn’t even be a contest! If you want fair game, you need both of them. A wok, after all, is one of several types of pans.These are some of the basic kitchen equipment that you should have. If you want to become a great cook, then you need other pans, including a wok or two ASAP!
Michael Johnson is the founder of The Pan Handler, Inspired by his blacksmith grandfather’s legacy has a deep appreciation for hand-crafted pots and pans, he provides invaluable guides, reviews, and recipes to enhance your culinary journey.