Cast Iron Woks vs. Carbon Steel Woks. Everything You Need to Know
If you’ve read enough cooking-related articles, you might already know that woks are among the most versatile and useful utensils in a kitchen. Here we look at the differences between the two most commonly used materials for woks, cast iron, and carbon steel. We also look at the similarities between the two, and finally, which works best for you.
Cast iron woks comprise of pure iron and carbon. While the carbon accounts for only a little above 2%, it is more than its percentage of carbon steel woks. That’s interesting, huh?
Carbon steel woks comprise an alloy of iron and carbon (under 2%). Unlike cast iron that has been around for thousands of years, carbon steel woks have existed since the 19th century. The mixture of elements in this allows them to be much thinner woks (~3mm).
2.Heat Retention and Distribution
Cast iron woks are slow to heat but work well in retaining the heat. One of the main reasons for this property is the thickness. The most common woks made out of this material have a thickness of approximately a centimeter (~ 9 mm).
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Carbon steel woks are quick to gain heat and lose it. It is ideal if you’re planning on making multiple batches of flatbread (Yes, your eyes do not deceive you. Check out this hack to cook flatbreads with a wok).
3.Shape and Weight
Manufacturing units tend to make cast iron woks from a single piece of metal. These tend to weigh much more than others and have uneven surfaces with larger pores. Seasoning usually helps eliminate the unevenness to a great extent.
Carbon steel woks are usually fabricated from sheets of malleable metal and thus have a more even surface. It weighs much less than cast iron. If it needs to move to and fro, it’s much less of a hassle.
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Cast iron is ideal for searing, stewing, baking, braising, and pan-frying.
Carbon steel is ideal for stir-frying, pan-frying, roasting, baking, and searing.
Cast Iron Woks vs. Carbon Steel Woks: Similarities Between The Two
Both work well on induction stoves because of the ferromagnetic materials in them.
Both improve over time as you season them. More seasoning means a better non-stick coating.
Both do not favor washing with harsh detergents.
Both are prone to damage when used for acidic sauces etc. The acidic nature damages the seasoning.
Induction Stoves That Can be Used With Both Types of Woks
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Cast Iron Woks vs. Carbon Steel Woks: Which is Better?
While cast-iron woks have more history and were favored back in the day, many modern chefs around the world prefer carbon steel just as much. Rather than one being better than the other, the real determining factor is the use-case.
If you plan on cooking thick slices of meat, whole chicken, etc. cast iron woks work best. These woks are prone to retaining thermal energy for longer. On the other hand, if you are looking to cook food that requires rapid temperature changes (fish or veggies), carbon steel works better. Carbon steel releases heat just as quickly as it absorbs it.
There is no clear winner here. While cast iron has a richer history, the real difference will lie in what you plan on cooking. Depending on this, choose the material that “woks” for you.
Best Foods to Cook in Carbon Steel Pans
If you are looking for some of the best foods to cook in your carbon steel cookware you have come to the right place. I have included several foods that you could easily cook including, eggs, steak, vegetables, cornbread, pizza, and much more. Explore the wonderful world of cooking with carbon steel cookware.
Best de Buyer French Carbon Steel Fry Pans
Since 1830-De Buyer manufactures one of the best French carbon steel frying pans available today. Cooking with carbon steel pans is something to be experienced. Whether you find cooking with carbon steel pans from the de Buyer’s line of fry pans or crepe pans. You will not be disappointed with De Buyer.
What Are These Carbon Steel Splotches?
If food is sticking to your carbon steel pan or skillet, you are not alone. Read to see how you can correct this food-sticking problem forever! It's easy!
Carbon Steel Pans vs Non-Stick Pans
Carbon steel pans will last forever if they are properly cared for. On the other hand, pans with non-stick coatings usually require replacing every two years or when their surface is scratched. Which would you like?
Best Vollrath French Style Carbon Steel Pan
This Vollrath carbon steel fry pan is perfect for frying, sauteing, searing, scrambling, and more! Carbon steel is an excellent conductor of heat, making it a favorite for high-temperature cooking. Once seasoned, this French-style fry pan distributes heat evenly for a fast, uniform cook. It’s ideal for any home or commercial kitchen and can be made NON-STICK by seasoning it correctly.
How Thick Are the Vollrath, Matfer Bourgeat, and the de Buyer Pans?
The thickness of carbon steel pans is essential. Before you decide to purchase carbon steel cookware, it would be advised to look into the thickness of any pan you buy. Why? If you use very high heat in a carbon steel pan, the bottom of the pan can sometimes warp. I even have cast iron pans that have warped. This warping is not uncommon.