A stir-fry wok is used when making stir-fry and other flash-fried dishes. These types of pans are made in a few sizes and materials. Cast iron and carbon steel are typically considered the best metals for a stir-fry pan, and some of these may come with a non-stick coating as well. You should also make sure that the wok you choose will work with your stove, and make sure that you will be able to comfortably use the handles on it.
Size is an important consideration when investing in a stir-fry wok. If you typically make large quantities of flash-fried food at a time and you have the room, an extra large wok would be suitable. Medium woks are more common, however, and these will usually suit an average family. If you usually only cook for one or two people, mini-woks are also available.
Stir-fry woks can be made out of several materials, but cast iron and carbon steel are typically considered the best. A cast iron stir-fry wok can withstand the very high temperatures needed for this type of cooking, and its cooking surface heats evenly. It will be very heavy, though. A wok made from carbon steel generally has all of the advantages of a cast iron wok, but is much lighter.
Some stir-fry wok manufacturers also produce woks with non-stick coatings. These coatings will typically prevent food from sticking to the pan. Woks with these coating are also typically easy to clean. Non-stick coatings, however, may not hold up to the high heat needed to stir-fry food, and they may break down very quickly.
A traditional stir-fry wok has two metal handles, one on each side. While these handles make it easy to toss and shake the food while it is cooking, they can get very hot. For this reason, many woks now have long wooden handles, similar to the handles on regular frying pans. Smaller handles may also be positioned directly opposite of the main handle as well.
Traditional stir-fry woks also usually have rounded bottoms, which causes the oil to pool at the very bottom of the pan near the heat source. These are nearly impossible to use on many modern stoves, particularly electric kitchen stoves, but they can sometimes be used with gas kitchen ranges. If you buy a round bottomed stir-fry wok, you will also need to invest in a wok ring, which is a metal ring used to help support these types of woks. Flat-bottomed woks, on the other hand can be used on almost any cooking surface.