IMUSA’s Non-stick wok makes Asian cooking a snap!
Everyone knows making great Asian food requires a good wok. A wok is a versatile flat- or round-bottomed pan with high sides invented 2,000 years ago in Canton, China. It’s great for stir-frying, steaming, poaching, boiling, searing, stewing, smoking, and deep frying. Some people even use a wok to make soup.
The high, slanted sides of the wok allow cooks to toss the ingredients over high heat and, particularly for vegetables, get that “al dente” doneness prized in Chinese cooking. You can buy stove-top woks (traditional) or electric woks (like an electric fry pan). Woks come in carbon steel (the most common), cast iron, and, increasingly popular, non-stick coated.
For years, I’ve used a stove-top non-stick coated wok from Nordic Ware that I thought was adequate for the occasional stir-fry. That’s before I tried IMUSA’s 14-inch Non-stick Coated Wok with Wood Handle. IMUSA is a company that makes ethnic cookware that’s affordable and makes cooking Hispanic, Asian, and other ethnic foods more accessible to cooks who otherwise wouldn’t have the tools or knowledge to make these “exotic” foods.
Big Volume, Steep Sides
The IMUSA Non-stick Coated Wok with Wood Handle comes in two sizes: 11 inches and 14 inches. It’s made of carbon steel, traditionally used for its high-heat conductibility, and non-stick coated for healthy cooking and easy clean up. Unlike traditional carbon steel woks, the IMUSA wok doesn’t need to be “seasoned.” Following the directions, before using I washed out and dried my IMUSA wok and added 1 teaspoon of oil and put it on high heat for one minute. That was it. My IMUSA wok was ready for action.
My old Nordic Ware wok was also a 14-incher, but the IMUSA has a wider opening with more deeply slanted sides. I didn’t realize what a difference that would make until I stir-fried some vegetables and pork. The IMUSA wok enabled me to really toss and move the veggies and meat around. My DCS stove generates a searing 15,000 BTUs, perfect for Chinese cooking, but that high heat necessitates moving the food quickly to prevent burning, a problem with my old wok. Because the IMUSA wok’s sides are higher, I didn’t have to worry about burning or food slopping over the sides, no matter how enthusiastically I tossed the ingredients. I could have made an even larger portion without any worry. I also needed to use very little oil. And my resulting stir-fry was terrific—crispy, crunchy veggies that retained their beautiful color.
Of course, you shouldn’t use metal utensils with a non-stick pan, so I used IMUSA’s Bamboo Cooking Tool Set that comes with a spoon, scoop, and spatula. I used the tool with the slanted edge because it perfectly fit the angle of the wok bottom. The proper technique for wok cooking is to flip and push the cooking items from the center of the work to the edge of the wok to regulate the distribution of heat and my bamboo tool worked well. Because these tools are made of bamboo, they’re super lightweight and sturdy. They’re also very inexpensive.
I also appreciated the IMUSA wok’s beefy, stay-cool wood handle, much sturdier and thicker than the plastic one on my Nordic Ware. It also has a wooden handle on the opposite side for lifting, a really nice feature.
Clean-up was a snap too. The directions that come with the IMUSA Non-stick indicate it’s dishwasher safe. But the non-stick surface requires only a quick wipe out with warm soapy water so I’ll be bypassing the dishwasher.
Because this wok has a larger volume, it was tough to find a place in my cupboard for it. No problem. The IMUSA Non-stick Wok comes with a sturdy metal ring in the wood handle that enabled me to hang it with my cast iron and other large pans.
Real Bottom Line: If you’re interested in learning to cook Asian food or you’re in need of a new wok, we recommend the IMUSA Non-Stick Coated Wok with Wood Handle for its heat-conducting carbon steel, big volume and steeply slanted sides, which makes it perfect for stir-frying. We also love its non-stick surface for healthy cooking and easy clean up. The wooden handles (two of them) and hanging hook make this one of the best designed woks around. The best news? This essential kitchen item won’t break the bank.
And where is that old Nordic Ware nonstick wok of mine going? Look for it in my next garage sale. Happy woking! – Bobbie Hasselbring, RFT Editor
Interested in trying Chef George Duran’s beer battered tempura? It’s easy to make in a wok. Check out the recipe here.