Wok History: 5 things you didn't know about the History of the Wok

Ah, the good old wok - a trusty kitchen appliance that never lets us down. The wok is a must have in any kitchen that has an abundance of wok history! It’s hardy, versatile, and easy to clean - what’s not to love?

If you are anything like us, your kitchen is a busy, bustling, family orientated hub where cooking up everything from sophisticated dinner party dishes to quick and easy meals for the kids is a must. That’s why our wok gets a lot of use - because it’s great for stir frying, deep frying, boiling, smoking, braising, roasting, grilling, and steaming!

But what do we really know about the wok? To pay homage to its roots and to celebrate this fantastically useful piece of cooking kit, we thought we’d explore wok history and let you in on some interesting facts. 

5 Interesting facts about wok history

1. The wok originated in China and is one of the most popular and commonly used cooking utensils there and across Asia. While the first wok is believed to have come from there, it is thought that the idea was actually borrowed from another culture. 

2. Central Asian nomads were known for observing and adopting technologies from other cultures. The Mongols were a group of nomads, and it is known they carried woks with them as they travelled, introducing them to the different cultures they met along the way. 

3. Historians aren’t clear on why the invention of the work first came to be. Some suggestions, however, are that the need to preserve the very limited amounts of fuel available during those times drove the invention, or that lack of food catalysed a desire to cook different dishes using limited and similar ingredients. Others believe that the ability to cook a single meal in just one pan was the driving force behind the wok’s creation. 

4. It was invented around 2,000 years ago and since its invention has been used to create many different types of dishes. The word wok translates as “cooking pot” in Cantonese, it is also known as “Kuo” in Mandarin and a “Kuali" in many different Asian languages.

5. The wok is usually crafted either from cast iron or carbon steel though you can also find aluminium and stainless steel designs. The most popular designs tend to be made from carbon steel as it’s lightweight and nonstick and is also very affordable. 

Cooking with a wok

A wok is a brilliant pot for cooking a number of different dishes, and it’s quick to season a wok to make it nonstick - all that’s needed is a little warmed oil wiped over the surface of the wok to keep it nonstick for as long as you need to use it. 

Lots of Chinese dishes require the pan to be very hot and therefore able to cook things at high temperatures very quickly - which is exactly what the wok is great for. The thickness of the wok will make a difference to the cooking time, and you can get flat bottomed or round-bottomed varieties depending on your needs. 

At Dexam, we are pleased to supply a fantastic range of high-quality woks, including the ‘skinny wok’ to help encourage healthier eating. If you have any questions about any of the woks in our range or want some advice on which to pick, just get in touch with our customer services team who’ll be happy to help you!