Product Type: Ken Hom Crockery
Newest Review: ... stops it from being too flimsy but also gives you something to grip hold of when cooking and flipping the contents. It isn't too heavy,... more
Not Quite A Wok Star
Ken Hom Wok
Member Name: dkm1981
Ken Hom Wok
Advantages: Large, helper handle, widely available
Disadvantages: Heavy, thick bottomed
We bought this wok from Matalan a few years ago and have since been reasonably impressed with it. It is quite large at about 14 inches and is a non stick version.
We first chose the wok as it we were sucked in by the designer chef logo as is the intention of the makers. I doubt very much that Ken Hom himself uses this style of wok as it has quite a thick base. The better woks I have used in the past have a thinner base so that you can really get some heat into your pan for stir frying. I have another wok that I bought from a Chinese supermarket and that one's base is probably half the thickness of the Ken Hom one, which makes it much more successful at stir frying. Having said that - as the old saying goes, a bad work man would always blame his tools and the Ken Hom wok is perfectly suitable for cooking stir frys. The traditional way of cooking stir frys is (as the name suggests!) to throw all your ingredients in the wok and then keep it all moving, which is very rigorous. I actually find that you can be a little more gentle with the Ken Hom wok and that if you leave things in there for a few minutes without stirring - something that I often do because I am easily distracted - they don't burn and stick to the bottom of the pan as quickly as they might do in a thinner based pan.
With regards to this, the Ken Hom pan has a flat bottom unlike the more traditional versions. This again is a feature that makes it much easier to handle and use, especially for less experienced wok users. Whereas a normal wok would have a rounded bottom that can't be left on the hob, this one can be placed down for a bit without it falling over. To be honest I think this is a necessary function because the Ken Hom wok is fairly heavy and I think you'd struggle to lift it and shake it around for much more than a mintue at a time.
The main feature of this wok that distinguishes it from others is the wooden helper handle. This is, as you might imagine, a small handle that is screwed onto the side of the pan opposite to where the normal handle is. This means that you have something to grasp when you are stir frying and it is a great, if somewhat unconventional, feature. It really helps with the shaking motion you need for good results - especially since this is a fairly large pan and might otherwise be difficult to manage. The handles are wooden so they don't get too hot, although if you leave them hovering over a high heat for too long, they will become too hot to touch obviously.
The pan is non stick and I have found it to be so, even when I have *ahem* overcooked things in it, they have come of with little more than a light scrub. It is also dishwasher safe, although I'd recommend giving is a quite wipe before you put it in. As it is so big, storing it isn't the easiest thing in the world - it takes up practically a whole shelf in our cupboard.
Like I said, we got ours from Matalan a few years ago and I seem to remember that we paid about £10 for it. A quick check on Google shows that you can get it for about £14 nowadays, although I'm sure you'd be able to find it cheaper elsewhere in the like of Amazon and so on.
Overall I'd say that this is a pretty good starter wok, if you are serious about Chinese cooking, I'd try looking in a Chinese supermarket for a more manageable (lighter and smaller) genuine one that will generally be a lot cheaper. But as a starting point, this one is fairly good and it does have some handy features.
Summary: Not bad, but there are better ones out there.
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