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I am interested in getting some form of cookware that will... take seasoning? Become seasoned? Cast-iron, carbon-steel, et cetera. I currently have two pots (one tall, one short) and one nonstick stainless-and-aluminum pan. I do not have infinite money or shelves so I do not want to buy all possible cookware. I am also uncertain whether a pan or a wok would be preferable.

For any pairing of (carbon steel, cast-iron, forged iron) and (wok, pan), what would be preferred?

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I think any of the suggestions you made are great. I would add, what type of food/style are you cooking or interested in? More into the stir-frying, than a wok would be a good choice, besides they are quite multi-functional (fryer, steamer, stir fry, smoker). They are also pretty inexpensive when made out of thin carbon steel.

If you are not into that, then a cast iron or my favorite are carbon steel pans. Nearly all the seasonability of cast iron without the weight. The carbon steel is usually also much less expensive. Lodge makes a set of carbon steel pans. But most carbon steel pans use rivets to secure the handles to the pan.

If you are getting fancy, there is a German brand of carbon steel pans, which makes them out of one piece like a cast iron, no rivets. The brand is named, Turk, Albert Turk GmbH.

Good luck.

  • Currently, as far as what I cook... general purpose. Just starting to build up my own set of cookware. So I do some stir-frying, some sauteeing, some its-already-cooked-just-heat-it-up (e.g. sausages). Scrambled eggs, I suppose. I've never used a wok, hence the curiosity. – David Heyman Dec 9 '16 at 16:56
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Your stove is a significant factor in whether a wok is worthwhile versus a flat bottomed pan.

Woks benefit from very high heat. Some people think you need a professional stove to use a wok properly because a residential stove heat output is too low. There is a characteristic wok hei flavor that is a result of using this heat that probably is not reproducible with a residential stove.

A wok does not have the heat capacity of a cast iron pan because it is relatively thin. You can preheat a cast iron pan for awhile before cooking to sear, but this does not work with a wok. You need to continuously apply high heat to sear in a wok.

With an electric stove, I prefer to stir fry in a cast iron pan over a wok, while over natural gas, I prefer to stir fry in a wok. Over an electric stove, you need to divide the cooking into small batches to prevent your stir fry from becoming a simmer/boiling. I have no firsthand experience with induction stoves, but I have heard they are better than electric for use with woks.

To summarize, if you have a high heat stove, consider a wok. Otherwise get a pan.

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I would choose cast iron and pan, but I don't know that my preferences have much to do with what you should buy. I have a steel wok - can't recall the last time I used it; I last used the cast iron pan, day before yesterday. I've never really "gotten into" wok-ing, so my results tend to be better with other methods. For other people with other cooking habits, that will be different, as seen in the "related" questions off to the side.

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I'd recommend a Lodge Cast Iron Skillet (12" or 15 1/4") and a Lodge Cast Iron Wok.

Both options are fantastic values, will last literally forever, and are a joy to cook with.

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