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August 23, 2021
For many North American households, the frying pan is the typical answer when it comes to naming the cookware it uses the most. Also known as a skillet or frypan, this reliable tool commonly ranks as one of the first purchases a new homeowner will make for their kitchen.
However, the trusty frypan is far from being the only kitchen cookware. The wok has been gaining wider acceptance as a top cookware tool for homes.
As common as both the frying pan and the wok have become, there remains some confusion between them. What’s the difference between them? Which is better? Do I need to choose between them, or do I need them both?
Let’s begin our discussion of the topic of “wok vs. frying pan” by asking the basic question:
A wok is a type of traditional Chinese cookware that has been used in Asia for centuries. It features a simple design that makes it strong and gives it the flexibility to be used for a wide variety of cooking techniques.
Wok construction consists of a rounded basin with sloping walls that ease down towards its round-bottomed base. It is equipped with either a single handle, or two carrying clasps. What’s more, this pan is almost always complemented by a large lid that is usually as rounded as its base.
As seen in Chinese restaurants, this type of pan typically sits in a fire pit above which they are subjected to high temperatures. In this fashion, woks have been used to create delicious dishes for generations of grateful diners.
The fundamental reason a wok is so different from a frypan has to do with their construction.
To begin, the base of a frypan is completely flat, and is surrounded by slanted walls (compared to a sauté pan that has vertical walls). This flat bottom offers the advantage of connecting better with the heating elements of a stove, making it ideal for frying and searing. We’re probably most familiar with using frypans to make foods like scrambled eggs and steak.
Although frying pans are quick to heat up, their flat bottoms also mean that heat evaporates more quickly, thereby leading to longer cooking times—a problem that woks don’t have.
Instead, a wok is able to cook food very quickly. Rather than heating up the entire surface of a flat-bottomed pan, this type of pan directs heat to the very bottom of its pan. This characteristic is the main concept behind stir frying—the cooking technique that requires constant stirring and flipping of ingredients to ensure an even cook.
Another characteristic that stands in direct contrast to the frypan is the Chinese pan’s ability to retain heat well. By incorporating its large lid as its upper barrier, a wok is able to establish an enclosed cooking area that consists of different heat zones: a conduction zone at the very bottom, a convection zone above it, and condensation zones that surround them both.
Due to this flexibility, this pan allows for the use of numerous cooking techniques. With a wok, you can steam, pan fry, deep fry, poach, boil, braise, sear, stew and, of course, stir fry.
The traditional wok has proven to be problematic for modern kitchens. Compared to a frying pan, this traditional pan can be an impractical tool to use in its traditional state.
Round-bottoms woks are difficult to balance on a flat stovetop, and while this has largely been rectified by a ringed pan holder, this hasn’t solved its other problem. Modern stovetops have trouble providing the high temperatures required by these traditional Chinese pans, an issue that is compounded by its limited point of contact with the stove.
To solve both problems, modern woks have evolved to feature flat bottoms. This gives them the stability to stand on their own, and helps them achieve more contact with the stove. These changes have been complemented by other changes; these include switching its traditional material of carbon steel for aluminum and adding a non-stick coating, making it more practical and easier to use.
It’s always difficult to choose between two choices, so it’s better to think of frypans and woks as being complementary cookware instead of direct competitors to each other. Clearly, frying pans and woks have different properties that allow them to do different things well. Although there is some considerable overlap between them, each is a tool with a different function.
If you’re going to be cooking a lot of Asian-themed foods, your obvious choice is the wok. However, this traditional pan does not have to exclusively make Asian dishes. These pans are excellent for cooking chopped vegetables and ingredients in large quantities. As well, because liquids pool at the bottom of its rounded base, it’s possible to use less oil when cooking with this type of pan. This equal distribution of oils helps health-conscious diners eat meals that are more healthy.
At the same time, frying pans are likewise a great choice for your kitchen. Frying pans don’t make as much smoke as woks, and are preferable for people who don’t want to always be tending to their pan, or have no need for seasoning. In a pinch, a frying pan can even be used to make a stir fry (provided that you don’t push your ingredients over its shorter edges). As well, frying pans completely made of stainless steel have the added advantage of being oven safe.
The good news to this question is that you don’t have to—not when it concerns a frying pan and a wok from Berlinger Haus!
For your kitchen, consider the 11” Wok w/ Protector or the 10 ¼ “ Frypan w/ Protector. Both pans feature triple-layer marble coatings, soft-touch handles, and induction bottoms for improved heat distribution. They also feature ergonomic soft-touch handles that make them practical to use at all times. Or, considering that this wok and frypan come from the same Carbon Collection, choose both for your kitchen!
As well, Berlinger Haus offers wok and frying pans from our other collections. Our Eterna Collection 11 inch Wok and 8 inch Frypan are both scratch resistant and can be used in the oven, making them excellent additions to your kitchen!
November 22, 2021