A ceramic wok is a rounded cooking pan that has been formed out of ceramic. This type of material is popular for use in cookware for its ability to resist staining, and its durability under extreme heat. This style of pan may be used to deep fry, stir-fry, saute, and simmer all types of food.
These large, rounded pans may be cooked over an open fire or on a hot stove top. The edges of a ceramic wok are significantly larger than a traditional sauce pan, and may rise several inches above the top of the stove. These edges are curved, and are designed to promote an even distribution of heat and easy utensil movement for continuous cooking. The bottom of the wok is traditionally rounded, however, western cultural adaptations of this cooking implement may have a flat bottomed version that is more easily used on stove top surfaces.
This cooking tool is typically made from carbon steel or cast iron. Electric woks are also available that do not require the additional heat of a stove cook top, and may be plugged directly into the wall for fast and easy food preparation. Carbon steel is often prone to staining, can rust over time, and may cause food to stick to the edges of the pan if not stirred frequently. Cast iron does not stain, and should be adequately seasoned with oil prior to use. This seasoning may be tasted in every batch of food prepared in this type of pan, and as a result the cast iron wok cannot be washed with standard dish washing chemicals or placed in a dishwasher.
The ceramic wok is more versatile than the metal versions, and can be cleaned easily. The ceramic does not stain and is resistant to bacterial growth. Unlike cast iron, it can be cleaned with soap and water, or placed in a dishwasher when necessary. This material is heavy enough to withstand the high heat temperatures of an oven interior or direct heat on an open grill. The ingredients for a particular dish may be prepared in this type of wok on top of the stove, and finished by baking inside of the oven.
There are three standard styles of ceramic wok available for purchase. The most commonly used style of this type of wok is a flat bottomed model which is attached to a long, wooden or metal handle. The edges of this type of wok are somewhat angular where the flat bottom meets the curved edges of the raised sides, and can cause some difficulties when attempting to maintain a constant stirring motion inside the pan. This type of wok is also available with a rounded bottom, which cooks food more quickly and creates firm, crisp vegetables using stir-fry techniques. The third model of wok from which chefs may choose is rounded and provides two short, looped handles on either side of the pan for easy lifting and serving.