1. Dave
    Posted December 20, 2013 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    My wife and I have just moved into our new home which includes a new Capital open burner rangetop that includes a Wok ring. She also has herself a new wok. She has never cooked with a wok but wants to start. Which of your cookbooks would you recommend to get her started?

  2. grace
    Posted December 21, 2013 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    Congrats on your new home and new wok. I would start your wokking life with Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge.
    Once you get your wok seasoned it’s nice to get the technique of stir-frying under your belt before you branch
    out into the other techniques. Let me know if you have more questions. BTW, there’s a stir-fry group Wok Wednesdays that is cooking their way through Sky’s Edge. Check out the FB page:

  3. Stephanie
    Posted February 4, 2014 at 1:59 am | Permalink

    Hi Grace. I need a little advice.
    I recently bought a what I think is a wok. Because it is black in colour and definitely does not feel like a non stick pan. But it has a label that says non stick. The thing is…when I was preparing the ‘wok’, I scratch it and it shows the grey scratch mark. Ultimately, it is still a wok?
    Sorry Grace…for the unorganized writing.

  4. grace
    Posted February 5, 2014 at 12:31 am | Permalink

    If the wok says it’s nonstick and there’s a scratch I’m sure it’s a nonstick pan. In my opinion nonstick is the worse cookware for high heat stir-frying. It’s not suited for high heat cooking and stir-fries turn into soggy braises. If you buy a traditional carbon-steel wok, like a cast-iron skillet, a natural nonstick surface is created the more you cook with it. You can buy an excellent American made carbon-steel wok at the for $25 and it will last you more than a lifetime. I hate the idea of cooking on a chemical nonstick surface. Toss your “wok” and buy the real thing.

  5. Mike
    Posted February 6, 2014 at 12:32 am | Permalink

    Hi Grace. I watched your video on YouTube on how to season a wok. It was very informative, but I am wondering if something should be done to season the outside of the wok also as food that might spill would wind up sliding down the outside of the wok. What do you think? I have an electric stove, so I think if I tried I would need to do it on my Weber grill.

  6. grace
    Posted February 6, 2014 at 12:38 am | Permalink

    Hi Mike,
    There’s no need to season the outside of the wok. After cooking you’ll wash the outside of the wok and then dry it over heat. I normally use the rough side of a Scotch Brite sponge. Occasionally you might notice a little rust on the outside of the wok but it won’t effect the pan. The main point of the seasoning is to create a natural nonstick surface so that foods don’t stick and that’s only necessary in the interior of the wok.

  7. Stephanie
    Posted February 10, 2014 at 1:23 am | Permalink

    Hi Grace,
    Thanks for your reply. I threw away the packaging. I should have read if it says coated with non stick. I will go to the shop to take a look again. And yes, I agree that non stick is the WORST cookware. Especially when the coating starts to scrap off.
    I am not able to find carbon steel wok where I am living (Singapore). Apparently, I was told that if I didn’t manage it well, it will rust. But I do have iron. Are they good enough?

  8. William Motley
    Posted April 10, 2014 at 1:43 am | Permalink

    Hey Grace,

    I noticed in your “How to Season a Wok” video, you us a stove top method. My question is, how do you keep the back of the wok from rusting unless you coat it with oil and bake it?


    Will Motley
    I found that video on youtube, but could not find it on your website. Is it on your website?

  9. Patty
    Posted April 23, 2014 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    Hi Miss Grace,
    I am reading “Breath of a Wok”, and enjoying it immensely.
    Thanks for all the inspiration with tips and techniques.
    (beautiful photos, I may add)
    I’m not new to wok cooking; my parents gave me my first wok in 1984.
    I still have that wok, but added another to my kitchen about 15 years ago.
    But it isn’t until recently that I have become serious with fine tuning my wok
    cooking skills.
    It stays on the stove and is used at least once a day!
    Again, Thanks for the inspiration…
    (PS I am ordering a wok for my newly wed daughter today)

  10. grace
    Posted April 27, 2014 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    Patty, Thank you for your very sweet message. I’m delighted you’re a veteran wokker.
    And so pleased you’re keeping the wok traditions alive with your wok gift to your daughter.

  11. grace
    Posted April 27, 2014 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    Will, You don’t need to season the outside of the wok. With cooking and time, a patina will form on the outside of the wok which naturally protects the pan from rust. I don’t have my seasoning video on my website at the moment. When I have a chance I will try and post it. Here’s a video I did for on seasoning a wok:

  12. Halimah Felt
    Posted July 26, 2014 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

    Hi Grace,

    I’ve recently come across your truly inspiring “Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge” which I now enjoy on my Kindle and iMac. So I didn’t lose much time ordering a wok and following your instructions for seasoning it; I’ve even popped some tasty pop corn twice already! I should really say following as well as I could on my sorry electric stove with its built-in ‘safety’ burners (which are new to me: a sort of solid metal plate in place of the more familiar electric ‘coil’ unit).

    My first big problem though is discovering how woefully lame my rented apartment’s cheapo electric stove is for getting up sufficient fire power to heat the wok so that it can vaporize a bead of water in 1 to 2 seconds!

    I was still flicking beads into my newly acquired 14-inch carbon-steel wok when after about 15 minutes on the large burner turned up all the way to high that I gradually realized I must face the sad fact of being stuck with a sad no-way-Jose stove! Those little water beads mostly just kept rolling around lollygagging or something …!? Then eventually drifted away like old soldiers … ??

    So I started trying to find a workable and affordable substitute solution. At first I noticed and almost went for the portable butane-powered single burner model, but was dissuaded from this otherwise appealing choice by the carbon-monoxide issue since I wanted to be able to cook inside my small apartment without having to open windows, especially during the colder season — I live in Spokane, WA.

    Then I began focusing on the ‘induction’ cooktops which I am now researching on Amazon and links from there to other online shops. These are totally new to me, but I’m beginning to get some idea through reading various reviews and comments from users, etc.

    However I had to wonder what you’d say about this type of heat source for stir-frying in a wok; I even searched ‘induction’ in your ‘Sky’s Edge’ (because I haven’t finished reading it through yet and couldn’t recall your having mentioned it). The Kindle search had no hits for induction.

    So now I’ve finally gotten around to it — what do you think and know about this as a useful substitute solution so that I’m finally able to wok a real stir-fry at home without adequate presently available stove power?

    Thanks very much — your work and inspiration mean a great deal to me!

    All the best,

  13. grace
    Posted July 27, 2014 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    Hi Halimah,
    Thanks for your message. I can tell you’re into wokking and doing it correctly. As I mentioned in Sky the bead of water rolling around (like a tiny ball of mercury) is very common in new woks. Once the wok is more seasoned the bead of water will disappear and you’ll get a better test. Just keep cooking with your wok and as the patina develops, eventually, when you do the water drop test, the bead will evaporate within 1 to 2 seconds. Meanwhile, use a stopwatch as you preheat your wok. That way if it takes 1 min you can just set the timer each time and not have to “guess” if the wok is correctly preheated. Don’t forget, after you preheat the wok, when you add the oil it should NOT smoke wildly. There can be a little wisp of smoke but if it’s super smokey you’ve overheated the wok and should start over again. And if after you add the oil, there’s no sizzle once you add the first ingredients it means you’ve underheated the wok.

    I’ve had very good luck stir-frying with a flat-bottomed carbon-steel wok on an induction burner. I haven’t used it often but for demos at the Museum of Natural History, Dartmouth, and for a shoot for Cooking Light I used induction and it was powerful. The only possible problem is sometimes if the contact isn’t perfect you have to hold the handle of the wok in a particular position to make sure the bottom is flat against the cooktop. I happen to have the brand and model number of the induction burner we used on the Cooking Light shoot. I remember we didn’t use it at the full power so you probably don’t need one that’s quite so powerful. Let me know how it works out for you. Admiral Craft Model No. IND-D120V

  14. Halimah Felt
    Posted July 27, 2014 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

    Hi Grace!

    *Swift* !! I hardly expected to hear back from you so soon, and I am totally delighted with your thoroughly complete and perfectly informing response!

    I certainly shall let you know the promising results as soon as I can make all the arrangements to get it together for this encouraging next phase! hoho … this is terrific! and it´s less than a week ’til I can order that or similar model induction cooktop online where so much of my shopping is done these days, being a somewhat disabled senior (osteoarthritis).

    I think one of the main attractions for me to stir-fry is my increasing interest in preparing myself much healrhier and more tasty *real food* e.g. all that superfood *ginger* is just perfect, not to mention all those really nutritious veggies made so absolutely tasty and delectable, as well as the scrumptious whole grain brown rice, that whole rich world of new and familiar spices and herbs — adding up to endless appeal and variety!

    No wonder it’s all such a gasseroo! heehee You can tell how pleased I am … so …

    many thanks again,


    ps I won’t forget to tell you how it goes …

  15. Nick
    Posted August 11, 2014 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    Hi Grace,

    A couple months ago I got a copy of “Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge” and it’s become of of my kitchen essentials. Never again will I call a soggy braise a stir-fry! I have two questions for you regarding the health of my wok. I originally seasoned my wok in the oven, and after a month of frequent use the bottom is nicely blackened and the upper rim is golden, but around the middle, right above the flat bottom, seasoning seems to be flaking off revealing the color of the original metal. Do I need to re-season it or will more cooking heal these spots? I am very gentle with it and usually just swirl hot water in it when I clean it. Also when I heat up my wok, it smokes as it gets hot, even when it is empty. Am I overheating it or is that a problem with the seasoning? I have a gas stove that can burn fairly hot.


  16. grace
    Posted August 11, 2014 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    I’m glad Sky’s Edge is empowering you to stir-fry. Your wok is behaving like a typical new wok, getting nicely blackened but showing a little flaking. You can do the wok facial on the middle section where it’s flaking just to help remove any flaking. I would then do another seasoning in the oven to give it a nice patina boost. Just keep wokking and the patina will settle in. As for your other question do you know the BTUs of your burner? The wok will smoke a little as there is always a little residual oil left on the wok. But let me know how powerful your BTUs are before I provide more cyber “wok therapy.” 🙂

  17. Nick
    Posted August 12, 2014 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    Hi Grace,

    Thanks for the response! The most powerful burner has 16k BTUs and I measured the bottom of the wok reaching 400 degrees as it starting smoking. I only every use peanut oil in it.


  18. Halimah Felt
    Posted August 23, 2014 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    Hi again Grace,

    Well I have gotten a countertop induction burner and begun to try to accustom myself to its MO … actually I guess it sort of intimidated me a bit with its almost scary power and practically instantaneous effects! (I took a while to select the model and finally picked one from Amazon’s offerings which is listed as having the same wattage as the one you mentioned; because it seemed to be the best choice overall.)

    So I’ve tried it with the wok a few times now … but I must admit I’m going to need a LOT more practice! hoho! I’m still eating my still edible attempts even if they do seem to tend toward more of a soggy braise than a true stir-fry! tsktsk But I suppose I am getting somewhat more relaxed about it … it does seem like very many new challenges all at once to try to juggle and learn how to harmonize!! But I do find my interest, if not always *constant*, does reignite and motivate me to keep trying! haha!

    All in all it’s already quite a trip! I mean I feel as though I’m (re)learning things I hardly expected to even be dealing with somehow — including goodies like patience and perseverance …

    I’m so grateful that you’re providing me and others with so much help and encouragement for this wonderfully worthwhile pursuit! Rich*^!

    Best regards,


    PS I’m planning to check out more of your videos now too …

  19. Heather
    Posted August 30, 2014 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

    Hi Grace,

    I am so happy to have found you. I had never cooked Chinese cuisine before, but I recently bought a wok and several pantry staples to give it a try. I made your delicious ginger beef tonight and my 20 month old twins LOVED it. I have looked at your other recipes and all look wonderful. However, I live in the middle-of-nowhere Wyoming, and Chinese, or even Asian, noodles are hard to come by, particularly the fresh kind. Can you recommend any dried varieties that could be used as acceptable substitutes? I would especially love to cook the beef chow fun. Thank you!

  20. grace
    Posted August 31, 2014 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

    I’m so happy you had success stir-frying in Wyoming!The Ginger Beef is one of my favorites.
    It’s so simple and the ginger flavor is wonderful. As for your question about finding substitutes for fresh Chinese noodles I’m sorry I can’t give you a simple answer. You can make your own fresh rice flour noodles. Let me know if you’re interested and I’ll look for a recipe for you. Otherwise, you can use dry spaghetti in place of the fresh lo mein. Of course, it’s not the same, but it isn’t bad.

  21. Rashi Dewan
    Posted November 4, 2014 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    Hi Grace, Please suggest if I can use a pre seasoned carbon steel wok for stir frying. I am unable to find any other kind of carbon steel. Also, do I need to re-season the pre seasoned wok. Please also suggest how to care for that wok.
    your help will be much appreciated 🙂

  22. grace
    Posted November 4, 2014 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    Hi Rashi, There’s no need to buy a preseasoned wok. It’s so easy to season it yourself. The best woks come from The They’ve been in business in San Francisco’s Chinatown for over 40 years. They sell an excellent American-made wok that’s built to last that costs under $30 without shipping. Here’s my video on how to season a wok and care for it. There’s additional info in my cookbook Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge.

  23. Deborah
    Posted April 26, 2015 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    Hi Grace,
    I saw your response to Dave’s 2013 question re: purchasing “Sky” as an intro into Wok cooking on his new pro range. I just purchased “Sky” while awaiting delivery of my new Bluestar pro range that has a 25,000 btu burner. The burners are open which I understand is preferable for Wok cooking. My questions is: how should I modify your recipe instructions for stir frying on an open burner pro range that reaches high temperatures? I know high heat is crucial for wok cooking and yet you mention in “Sky” that your recipes are intended for cooking on residential ranges that do not reach such high temps. Should I just use the high heat that is afforded on the pro range and decrease cooking times? Thanks so very much for your inspiring work and for your assistance.

  24. grace
    Posted April 26, 2015 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

    Deborah, If you’re new to stir-frying I would not cook with 25,000 BTUs. You need the expertise of a chef to cook on 25,000 BTUs. I’d try and set the heat at the lowest heat where you can still hear a sizzle throughout. I’ve never cooked on the Bluestar but maybe that will be medium or even as low as medium-low. After a few weeks, when you’re more experienced I’d slowly increase the heat. You’re going to find that it’s very easy to burn ingredients. Everything will take less time to stir-fry than what I’ve written in my recipes. You may want to cut your minced ginger and garlic into larger pieces—more of a dice. If it’s minced it may just burn because you’re got too much heat. Do you know about Wok Wednesdays? It’s an online stir-fry group that’s been cooking their way through Sky for the last 3 years. You may want to check it out especially on the Facebook page.

  25. Bob
    Posted May 5, 2015 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    Hello Grace,
    First, I want to thank you for “Breath of a Wok” and “Stir Frying to the Sky’s Edge”. Great lessons (in more than just cooking) and wonderful recipes!

    If I may, I would like to share with you an unusual method I use for seasoning my woks, after having watched youtube videos of woks being seasoned on professional wok stoves that more closely resemble a rocket motor rather than something to cook on! Something I could not replicate, not even on my 35,000 btu camp stove I use outside with round bottom woks.

    But I do have a “weed burner”. Basically a propane torch that hooks to 20 lb propane tank that anyone with a propane BBQ already has. (Weed burners can range as high as $55.00 or more, but harbor freight has a model for less than $20.00.)

    My wife and I recently added a 14″ carbon steel Cantonese style round bottom wok to our collection (woks ARE addicting, aren’t they!) that we found at a restaurant supply store for under $14.00. It appears hand-hammered, but from the haphazardly overlapping of approximately 2″ diameter perfect circles, I believe the “hammer” was a mechanical hammer/press while the workman guided the steel by hand to shape it into a wok.

    After washing the wok and drying with paper towels, I took it outside and placed it on two concrete blocks set side by side. I then used the weed burner on it, starting at the inside center of the wok. Shortly, the color change started in the bottom of the wok, going through the various changes, and moved up the sides of the wok in a circle until they met “the sky’s edge”. I continued to move the flame around the inside of the wok. It had turned a nice blue/black, inside and out.

    Obviously, extreme care must be taken while doing this, and I find a pair of water-pump pliers ideal for controlling the wok for the next step. LET THE WOK COOL SOMEWHAT!! At this point it is probably hot enough for ANY oil added to reach its flash point and “flame on”.

    Once cooler, but still hot enough to vaporize a drop of water, I added some avacado oil, held the wok with the pliers, and using my spatula, wiped a folded paper towel around the inside to evenly distribute a thin film of oil. Now, repeat the use of the weed burner. I then cooled it again, added more oil, spread the oil, and weed burnered it again.

    I wound up with an even blue/black wok, which, when cooled, gets a scallion and ginger stir fry seasoning as per your instructions.
    This method is NOT for everyone. EXTREME care must be taken while using the weed burner!! Stay well clear of that flame! And the wok remains “burn you hot” to the touch for quite awhile. Use care and patience.

    The first stir fry in it was a beef, baby bok choy, quartered red radish concoction I thought up, using a marinade and a sauce from “Stir Frying From the Sky’s Edge”

    This method worked on our 14” flat bottom wok. I removed the wooden handle, and wrapped the wooden helper handle in a wet rag covered with aluminum foil as you say to do in your book, and the helper handle was not damaged. Finished color was different on the flat bottomed wok, but as you say, every wok is an individual!

  26. Koon
    Posted May 6, 2015 at 4:28 am | Permalink

    Hi Grace,
    I am a novice to using carbon steel woks. I bought one recently and season it according to the instructions that came with it. However, now the base of the inner wok looks a bit dirty brown and I am not sure if they are rust. The wok feels smooth to touch though. After washing the wok and drying it over the stove, I used a power towel to run over the inner surface and the paper has some brown patches on it. Is that rust ?
    If it is, can I do the wok facial that you have recommended to remove it ? Do it need to re-season the wok after the facial ?
    Thank you !

  27. grace
    Posted May 9, 2015 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

    Bob, First of all apologies for my delay in replying to your intriguing message. Thanks for your kind praise of Breath and Sky. I’m very amused to read that you’re a wok addict too. They are hard to resist. I have plenty of woks stashed all around my apartment. I’m sure your theory that your newest wok is a machine made “hand-hammered” is true. There are very few artisans left who make the real deal. The majority of hand-hammered woks on the market were made by a machine.

    Your method for seasoning a wok is fascinating. I live in a New York City apartment so I can’t simulate your method. But you don’t mention if this unique process produces a nonstick surface? When you stir-fried the beef and baby bok choy did the beef stick? I’d love to see a photo of this wok. BTW do you know about my online stir-fry group Wok Wednesdays? I call it a stir-fry support group. They’ve been stir-frying their way through Sky for the last 3 years, every other wed. The discussion happens on the Wok Wednesdays Facebook page.

  28. grace
    Posted May 9, 2015 at 11:21 pm | Permalink

    Hi Koon, Sorry for not responding sooner. I doubt if your wok has rust. Initially when you season a wok the pan will appear rust like for quite awhile. And yes, when you wipe it the paper towel is likely to show a little color. Don’t be alarmed by this color. It’s totally natural and harmless. The Chinese have been cooking with woks for thousands of years. Just imagine if you wiped a barbecue grill with a paper towel that would probably show a little color too. There’s no need to do the wok facial unless you run your hands over the surface and it feels sticky or the surface isn’t smooth. If your wok is brand new it doesn’t hurt to reseason the wok again. Don’t forget you can do the wok facial for wok maintenance but after awhile there’s no need to season the wok again.

  29. Bob
    Posted May 10, 2015 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

    Hi again Grace,

    No worries on the timing of the response! I’m quite sure you have more than this blog to look after.

    What I found in “Breath” and “Sky”, among other things, is that you show us the WHYS and HOWS of stir fry, rather than how to be merely recipe following drones with no understanding of what we are doing. Lessons that can be transferred to any dish we later devise. Once the understanding happens, we can expand and experiment. We are free to stir fry.

    And for that, I thank you, very much.

    As far as the beef sticking in the newly seasoned wok, not much! I used more oil (whatever was needed) than it will take later after a few uses. Minimal “sticking” occurred, and what did stick, I called “fond”, which most of easily came up when I added the sauce at the end. I have to admit, due to impatience, I made the beef/baby bok choy/radish dish on the house propane range top (11,500 btu), rather than my camp stove, which made the oil in the wok below the “ring of fire” of the range burner cooler, but I compensated by getting the wok hotter than I normally would. Some smoking of the oil at the ring of fire occurred, but the “sizzle” continued while the food was in the very bottom of the wok. What little sticking remained, cleaned up perfectly with a short soak of hot tap water and paper towel scrubbing.

    After cleaning, I dried it, heated it, and put a THIN, and I mean THIN coat of oil in the wok, inside and out, and continued heating it and rubbing with a paper towel until no more sheen could be seen. I know you do not recommend this due to the oil becoming rancid, but I have not found it a problem doing it this way.

    We have 4 woks I have seasoned this way. This method seems to get a “jump start” on seasoning. Once heated to this level (weed burners can be 100,000 btu and more mimicking professional wok stoves) the woks seem to be impervious to rust. In fact, I found myself leaving the new wok on the counter so I could look at it when I walked by. It is blue/black inside and out. The spun 14” flat bottom wok was not as blue black, but still received the benefits of the jump start, and was quickly non-stick after a few uses.

    I would love to send you photos. I finally got some decent ones (now I know the lighting troubles of photographing woks) that you would have all rights to and be able to use in any way you wish.

    I do not have a facebook account, and cannot log into Wok Wednesday. You have my e-mail account. If you would like, make a throw down yahoo account used for just receiving these photos, and email me. I will reply with attached photos.

    This method is not for everyone! While using the weed burner, stand WELL back from the wok, and mind the wind, as heat will blow your way if you are downwind. Make sure all flammables (I did my woks on a gravel driveway) are away from your work area. KEEP THE GAS HOSE AND PROPANE TANK AWAY FROM THE FLAME AND HEAT!!!!

    This is the only way I know of to replicate the btu levels of the professional wok stoves used to “burn in” new woks.


  30. Bob
    Posted May 18, 2015 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

    Hello again Grace,

    One thing I should add about the “weed burner” seasoning. It did loosen the rivets slightly on both handles of the 14″ flat bottom spun wok. I tightened them back up by placing the end of the rivet on the outside of the wok on my vice for support, then tapped the head of the rivet on the inside of the wok with a hammer. The rivets are made of aluminum, I believe they are hollow 2 piece rivets, and were affected by the heat. The wok is marked “Taiwan 2005” on the handle.

    My round bottom woks all have steel rivets and they were not affected by the weed burner at all.


  31. grace
    Posted May 19, 2015 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    Bob, Thanks for taking the time to write me such an interesting update. I’m not opposed to putting a light film of oil on the wok if you use the wok frequently. Some cooks do the film of oil and then don’t use the wok for weeks or months and that’s when the oil gets funky and rancid. Thank you for sending the photos of your wok to the Wok Wednesdays FB account. Your woks are really impressive. I can tell they have a fabulous patina. No wonder why you like to leave them on the counter so you can admire them. I’m that way too.

  32. grace
    Posted May 19, 2015 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    Bob I’ve never had issues with rivets loosening but of course I’ve never been working with 100,000 BTUs. ha ha!

  33. Mia rubberts
    Posted November 17, 2015 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    Dear Grace,
    Greetings from North Wales (UK).
    I’m really interested in purchasing your Craftsy class but I do have one question: does stir frying involve a lot of oil? I’m on a low fat eating plan but I’d love to learn to stirfry properly. I hope the answer is that stir frying is lowfat lol!

    Thanks for your time


  34. grace
    Posted November 17, 2015 at 11:56 pm | Permalink

    Hi Mia, I teach home-style stirring which is low in fat. If you do restaurant-style stir-frying it’s very fatty. In general there’s about 1 1/2 teaspoons of oil or less per serving. If you look at the videos on my site you’ll see that I do special stir-fry videos for WeightWatchers.

  35. Erik Wagner
    Posted August 22, 2016 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    Hi Grace, I’m about 1/3 of the way through The Breath of a Wok. I’m going to order a wok soon – probably 14″ carbon steel. Though I have only started to read your book, it seems it is geared to cooking on an American stove top. My plan is to use my future wok in my ceramic cooker (grill). I’ll be able to get very high temps in that. What’s the optimum temperature or what temps do restaurants cook at?

  36. grace
    Posted August 22, 2016 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

    Hi Erik, The average Western stove has 8,000 to 12,000 BTUs. Restaurants in America use burners with 85,000 to 150,000 BTUs. In China, 200,000 BTUs or more. If you’re new to cooking with a wok, even cooking at 20,000 BTUs is extremely dangerous. You can buy the big kahuna outdoor stove which has 65,000 BTUs but if you’re unaccustomed to that level of heat you’ll singe the food and it’s dangerous. I’ve cooked with the Big Green Egg–is that the ceramic cooker you have? You can use a round-bottomed carbon-steel wok with the long metal handle with the BGE. Contact the Wok Shop for your wok. They’ve been in business for over 47 years and they can best advise you which wok you should get for your needs.

  37. Erik Wagner
    Posted August 23, 2016 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, Grace. I will definitely contact the wok shop. I’ve got something similar to a BGE it’s called a Primo. Yeah, I was wondering if I should get a wok with a long handle – you’re talking about a Pow Wok, right? I’m going to order the device that allows for me to hold a 14″ wok in my cooker and see how far down inside the cooker it sits. Pretty sure i’ll need that longer handle. Is there anything that I can’t cook with a Pow Wok vs a southern style wok?

  38. grace
    Posted August 24, 2016 at 12:48 am | Permalink

    I find the single handle with a helper handle to be the most practical. There are times you’ll want to be able to pick up the wok with one hand. I don’t know how powerful the Primo is. If it gets super hot get the metal handle and use pot holders. The pao wok has the hollow handle which is not suppose to get hot but if your fire is strong it will need potholders. Otherwise, if you don’t think the handle will burn get the wood.
    The pao wok and Cantonese wok are both intended for stir-frying. In Northern China where the pao is more popular they like the smaller bowl shape for braises. I think the Cantonese style is clumsier with the 2 metal ear handles. Tane Chan or Randy Ong at the Wok Shop can advise you on what’s best for your Primo.

  39. Erik Wagner
    Posted August 24, 2016 at 1:49 am | Permalink

    Great, thank you so much for your quick responses. Can’t wait to get started.

  40. grace
    Posted September 6, 2016 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

    Eric, You’re welcome. Keep me posted on how it turns out.

  41. Rita Garretson
    Posted October 20, 2016 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    Hello Grace. I purchased Stir Frying to the Sky’s Edge and followed the directions for seasoning my new wok. I’ve experimented with a couple of recipes, and would greatly appreciate your tips and advice for stir frying eggplant. We are big fans of eggplant with garlic sauce and I would like to prepare a vegetarian version. I wasn’t quite successful in my execution of your recipe. Thanks for any advice you can offer.

  42. grace
    Posted November 2, 2016 at 12:34 am | Permalink

    Rita, Apologies for the tardy reply. You can make the eggplant in Sky without the ground pork. Can you please tell me what the problem was when you made the eggplant stir-fry? How did it turn out? If you can describe the problem I can better help you. Thanks.

  43. Angela
    Posted November 5, 2016 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    Hi Grace,
    Thank you so much for your work on bringing the wok back into the modern family kitchen. Several months ago, I was inspired to cook with a wok after reading your book “The Breath of a Wok” and have since enjoyed recreating some of the dishes from my childhood and adolescence, bringing back some very fond memories of family cooking times.
    I’d like to ask your advice on caring for my carbon-steel wok. I use my wok about 3-4 times a week, mostly for stir-frying but sometimes also for braising and steaming. I’ve noticed over the last couple of weeks that there are some small black flecks in my stir-fry. This has not happened before. I tried giving the wok a facial as you’ve demonstrated but the black flecks are still there (though perhaps a bit less?). Do I have to repeat the facial process a few times? Is the patina coming off and should I use a wooden spatula rather than a metal fish turner so I don’t scratch the surface? When I swipe my finger on the inside of the wok after I’ve cleaned and dried it, I don’t get any black flecks on my finger, so I’m not sure what can be causing it.
    Any advice or thoughts would be greatly appreciated!

  44. grace
    Posted November 16, 2016 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    HI Angela, Woks typically get the black flaking from time to time especially if you are alternating between stir-frying/pan-frying/and deep-fat frying vs steaming, boiling poaching and braising. The “wet” cooking is loosening your patina. Don’t worry about it. I would do the wok facial a few times and eventually the wok will stop flaking. If you want to prevent to flaking I would buy a second wok. Chinese home cooks typically have a wok for stir-frying, pan-frying, and deep-fat frying and a separate wok for wet cooking. Luckily woks are inexpensive (the best wok is from the for only $25) so it’s a good investment. I only recommend using a metal spatula for stir-frying because it’s thin enough to get under meat, rice and noodles. A wooden spatula is too thick and will cause sticking. Let me know if you have any other questions.

  45. Angela
    Posted December 10, 2016 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    Hi Grace,

    Thanks so much for your advice and clarification. My wok is now free of black specks (yay!). And I will definitely get another one for wet cooking. With the wok for wet cooking, I assume I have to season it too and maintain it like I do the dry cooking one? Just not sure what it would mean for the patina development if I’m only using it for wet cooking.


  46. grace
    Posted December 13, 2016 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

    Angela, I’m so pleased your wok is free of black flaking. Let me know if you have any other questions.

  47. Kristin
    Posted January 29, 2017 at 5:54 am | Permalink

    Help!! I bought a carbon steel wok about two months ago, I used it twice and after the second time washing it (not with soap, just rinsing under hot water and a green scrubbie sponge) it seems to have developed a fine rust everywhere that the food/sauce had touched. Did I clean it wrong? The bottom outside looks discolored and there’s a bluefish ring around the bottom before where the rusty color on the sides begin. I’m afraid I destroyed my wok 🙁 but I’m not sure how. is there anything I can do to fix this?

  48. grace
    Posted February 1, 2017 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    Kristin, Sorry for the delay in replying. I was away for Chinese New Years. You haven’t destroyed your wok. It’s good for you to know that a wok is very forgiving and no matter what you do to it, you can always bring it back. If you have my book Stir-Frying to the SKy’s Edge you’ll find a recipe in it for the wok facial. You can also look at this short video:

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