Cooking and Baking

The Right Cheap Wok

My old wok is missing; it probably ran away due to neglect. I rarely get to a real Chinatown, but I visited a chain Asian market recently and checked out the small selection.

One model was attractive and seemingly heavy duty, with an open tubular handle welded on complete with 1/2" (hanger?) hole.

It had a great heft, moderately flat bottom, not too thin or too thick, smooth but not slick, and was pretty wide (somewhere between 14 and 20"). The weld was messy but seemed solid. It sold for about $17.

My only concern was the coating. It was a dull blue/black, maybe anodized or coated or painted; I don't know. I was used to the oily/rusty look of bare steel woks, but that's not what this was. The coating was dry and mostly but not entirely uniform. The bare metal, as visible around the very outer top edge, was moderately shiny. If not for the heavy weight I might have guessed it was aluminum, but I have to surmise that it's steel with some kind of coating.

Any guesses as to what I was seeing? Maybe just a form of pre-seasoning? As I said the wok seemed well built otherwise. If it's a coating I could bake off and re-season that would be nice, but as it is I have to wonder what that coating is, and whether I'd want to cook on it. The label only said made in Taiwan.

Thanks in advance for any advice...

(Yes, of course I should have asked someone.)


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