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I LOVE stirfrying (I probably do it 4 times a week) and I want to take it to the next level (or 2). I am going to get this burner to cook my stirfry's out on the patio.

I am wondering if I should also get a cast iron wok, or should I just stick with the carbon steel that I have been using?

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  • Suggested improvement: Make the question title about compatibility with the heating equipment you suggest. Aug 12, 2017 at 2:36
  • Lots of answers now. I like my stainless clad aluminum filled wok, on a good strong gas burner. Heats fast, cleans easy, and it's not overly heavy. Whatever you do, stay away from non-stick woks. Non-stick tends to evaporate ar wok temperatures. Feb 18, 2021 at 1:03
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    @WayfaringStranger - that depends on the quality of the non-stick. Regular 'old fashioned' shiny teflon sure, but modern robust non-stick surfaces are pretty much restaurant-proof these days. My own I've had about 2 years now & I haven't even managed to get the grey, slightly rough non-stick surface to start to so much as brown a bit yet. The outside looks like it's had a lot of use, the inside still looks brand new.
    – unlisted
    Mar 11, 2021 at 14:06
  • @tesujin There are still plenty of cheap Teflon Woks for sale here in the US. The first time you crank up the heat, it's time to buy a new Wok. It's like rice cookers here: People don't know how to pick a good one. Mar 11, 2021 at 19:19

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I have friends from Hong Kong who always use steel woks in their take-away.

A cast-iron wok would require a different technique for stir frying. It would be slower to heat up and retain heat when you didn't want the food to continue cooking.

Stick with the one you have ...

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    Or you could perhaps get a bigger one. There really is an old Chinese saying, politely expressed as "when stuff starts flying around, you need a big wok (daiwok) to catch it"!
    – klypos
    Jun 9, 2011 at 22:54
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There isn't so much difference between both materials to warrant the purchase of a new wok. While the different parameters can be measured, any noticeable difference will probably stem from production quality or seasoning quality. They are just too similar in specific heat per cubic centimeter (how much you can heat the pan) to expect an improvement. Iron has somewhat better thermal conductivity (how quickly it gives off heat to the food), which is more important in a wok than in a generic sauce pan, but the difference is small. Also, they are very similar in maintenance, with carbon steel being easier to (re)season.

For specific values and for better understanding the theory behind the heating of pans, read this article. For an example of somebody who has come to prefer his carbon steel pans over his cast iron ones, read here. (The part I mean is the four paragraphs between the picture of the pans and the "seasoning" heading, but the whole post is an interesting read too).

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    A cast iron wok has to be heavier (thicker) than a steel wok to be useful - it cannot be made robust and thin, it has to be heavy or it would crack easily.
    – klypos
    Jun 9, 2011 at 10:54
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    @klypos, I forgot that part (although, I have an iron pan which is only 2.5 mm - but then, I think it's forged, not cast). It speaks even more against iron, because a direct comparison of thermal conductivity is only sensible if the thickness is the same. A thicker pan will be clearly less suited for woking, because of its worse responsiveness. So thank you for the addition.
    – rumtscho
    Jun 9, 2011 at 11:10
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When you see chinese chefs in the kitchen they always use carbon steel woks because they are much lighter, making them better for flipping the food in the air in the style called "The Pao Action". This looks exciting, but does not make the food taste any better. If you decide that you don't need the Pao Action style, you are better off with a cast iron wok like those from Lodge (there are other brands as well). Yes, they are much heavier, but they will last for a lifetime, are more stable on your stovetop, and they are not as fragile as the Asian cast iron woks. Why risk cracking a thin seasoned cast iron wok? Buy the heavier cast iron, they can take the abuse and you will never be sorry.

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From my experience, I do not like carbon steel woks. I seasoned the carbon steel woks by the instructions. When I stir fry food on the carbon steel wok, I have noticed later that the seasoning layers peel off and that is not good at all. I have given chances to try the carbon steel woks about 3 to 4 times. I feel to realize that the carbon steel woks do not build a good patina, after seeing the seasoning layers peeling off. Now, I do not even want to have a carbon steel wok, anymore, after my bad experiences. Cast iron woks are the best for cooking.

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    I think your layers are probably too thick if they are peeling off. More like a food cooked on really hard. A real patina on a carbon steel wok will stay.
    – richard
    Aug 7, 2017 at 21:48
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I would definitely go for the CAST IRON WOK. It is so convenient for indoor or outdoor cooking in term of cleaning it (It only needs water and coconut brush like the Chinese Chef do). It last for a life time and something memorable to pass on to the next generation. My grandpa brought several cast iron woks from China to BATAVIA The Dutch East Indies Colony (present day Jakarta-Indonesia in 1910 during the period of the Last Emperor of China. We are still using the same woks today but in Australia. The thick cast iron wok not just subject to abuse but it also provide dietary supplementation of iron to individuals affected by iron-deficiency anaemia.

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I use cast iron and couldn't be any happier. I get restaurant quality flavor.

The only down side is that it's really really heavy. But cleaning and maintaining is much simpler, less dangerous and worry free compared to a carbon steel wok in my opinion. All I do is just lightly scrub it with hot/warm water and wipe it with a tissue and its clean.

Seasoning is simple just heat the cast iron pan and coat it with oil... finished. I don't find myself re-seasoning the cast iron pan since it seasons itself while cooking. You also don't need to worry much about any of the natural non stick coating to peel off like a Wok. You see chefs use carbon steel woks because its easy to lift, it's light weight and can serve the food onto plates.

Here's a video of me using cast iron for Asian cooking:

Delicious Authentic Asian Shrimp Fried Rice

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I would definitely recommend Cast Iron. It’s so easy to season it with a little bit of Oil (used olive oil). The Crust you get, & the flavor of your food is so much better. It makes a Huge difference over any other kind of pan.

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    The OP was specifically asking about woks, and comparing cast iron with carbon steel (which is seasoned in a similar way to cast iron). Have you used carbon steel, or are you comparing to things like stainless steel or teflon?
    – Sneftel
    Feb 24, 2021 at 12:44

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