Wok cooking is often considered one of the most exhilarating cooking styles. The wok itself is also very versatile. With one of the best wok cookbooks in your hands, you would be surprised how much you can do with a wok.
What are the best wok cookbooks? The best cookbooks, of any type, are easy to follow, creative, and often cater to audiences of different skill levels. The best wok cookbooks must also have details about caring for your wok, cooking basics, and recipes that show the diversity of the wok.
Is there a wok sitting in your kitchen cabinet collecting dust? Or have you been interested in learning how to cook with a wok but did not know where to start?
Keep reading to discover some of the best wok cookbooks and you too can learn the way of the wok.
What Makes a Good Cookbook?
Any well written cookbook, regardless of cuisine or style, will share a few common characteristics. The quality of a cookbook is measured by its usability, organization, creativity, and accessibility.
Usability and Organization
All great cookbooks are easy to read, have clear concise recipes, and contain educational pieces when needed.
Recipe instructions and procedures must be clear and accurate. Overly long procedures can be difficult to follow. Sometimes less is more when providing instructions.
The flow of a good cookbook should also be organized so that each section flows well from recipe to recipe but also in a manner that allows you to jump around the cookbook and not be confused or uninformed.
Most people use the table of contents to seek out specific recipes instead of reading through the book from the beginning.
Recipes should not contain high level culinary terms, or terms specific to the cuisine, unless they have been clearly defined in the cookbook. Even then, it is usually better to avoid using them as most people do not tend to read cookbooks from cover to cover.
Another important characteristic of a good cookbook is creativity.
The best cookbooks combine traditional, or commonly sought out, recipes with creative twists and novel recipe variations. They are also aesthetically pleasing, containing quality images and a balanced design theme.
Even simple changes to classic recipes can differentiate an average cookbook from a great cookbook. Cooking is an artform and all art borrows from other art in one way or another.
Another important trait found in the best cookbooks is accessibility. Accessibility is really important for cookbooks on international cuisines where ingredients, methods, and tools may be uncommon in other regions.
The best cookbooks promote accessibility by providing tips on finding obscure ingredients or providing substitutes in the event a specific ingredient is not available in your area.
They also take time to clarify methods or tools that are specific to the cuisines they are highlighting.
What Else Should You Find in the Best Wok Cookbooks?
In addition to the above qualities of a great cookbook, wok cookbooks should include explanations on caring for, storing, and using the wok.
A good wok can last years if taken care of. Just like cast iron and some other types of cookware, there are specific methods to maintaining a wok. The best wok cookbooks will provide instructions on these procedures.
They should also have a variety of simple recipes, geared towards increasing your confidence with using the wok.
There should also be enough recipes displaying the versatility of the wok. Wok cooking is much more than just stir-frying, you can steam, fry, and so much more.
The best wok cookbooks also give great consideration to accessibility. Realizing that some traditional ingredients may be hard to find. They explain some important terms and methods. They will also explain how to select, care for, clean, and use the wok.
The 7 Best Wok Cookbooks
These 7 wok cookbooks bare the characteristics of great cookbooks and have ample information specific to wok cooking:
|1.||Healthy Wok Chinese Cookbook for Beginners||100 beginner-friendly recipes|
|2.||The Wok Cookbook for Beginners and Advanced Users||Tips and recipes for all cooking levels|
|3.||Easy Wok Cookbook||Cheap & quick recipes|
|4.||The Healthy Wok Chinese Cookbook||Proves stir fry can be healthy and delicious|
|5.||Essential Wok Cookbook||Simple introduction to Chinese cooking|
|6.||The Breath of a Wok||Old-world wok cooking, explained and understood|
|7.||The Everyday Wok Cookbook||Includes Asian and American dishes|
They each have different creative approaches to wok cooking, making them the best wok cookbooks available.
Read on for more about each one of these bad boys!
1. Healthy Wok Chinese Cookbook for Beginners by Lim Chou
Lim Chou’s “Healthy Wok Chinese Cookbook for Beginners” is available digitally or in paperback. It does a wonderful job in the beginning of explaining the various cooking methods you can do with a wok.
It also lists out some of the important ingredients like sauces, spices, and aromatics. This section is short and concise and is even designed as a checklist so you can track what you have and what you need.
The recipes are easy to follow with detailed, yet simple instructions. Each recipe even has nutritional values listed. However, while the title says it’s for beginners, some of the recipes are a little advanced.
2. The Wok Cookbook for Beginners and Advanced Users by Brian Baker
Brain Baker’s wok cookbook designed for beginners and advanced users is another great introduction to the wok. It is packed with 200 recipes and a good amount of instructional material. There was clearly some research leading up to writing this cookbook.
Even with so many recipes, there is not a lot of repetition. This is because the recipes are sourced from all over East Asia, not just China. It is also available in paperback or digital form.
This wok cookbook has a humorous and personal feel to it, as is evidenced by the Dad joke in the subtitle, “We will wok you.” The recipes are well written, and consideration was given to ingredient sourcing.
The instructional portion of this cookbook is a little wordy compared to the others, but this may be a benefit if you’re the type who appreciates more information rather than less.
3. Easy Wok Cookbook by Terri Dien
Terri Dien’s wok cookbook is true to its title. All of the recipes are simple and easy to execute. The book itself is well organized and beautiful to look at. With only 88 recipes, it may seem limiting, but a lot of the recipes have mentions of variations that can be done.
“Easy Wok Cookbook” does include a brief, but effective, instructional section as well as a good number of restaurant style recipes. This book is simpler than others and focuses on Chinese and Chinese American wok cooking, rather than on providing a pan-Asian approach.
Available in paperback or in a digital version, this wok cookbook is one of the best options for those who are totally new to wok cooking. If you have some experience already and can make a basic fried rice or noodle dish without a recipe, you may want a more advanced option.
4. The Healthy Wok Chinese Cookbook by Charmaine Ferrara
Charmaine Ferrara’s wok cookbook is one of the most versatile cookbooks in this list. On top of that, it is full of absolutely beautiful images and is very enjoyable to flip through. There is a good variety of recipes, displaying different methods that the wok is useful for.
The recipes are well written and easy to follow, with occasional commentary on substituting hard to find ingredients. The instructional portion of this cookbook is well written but is more detailed than some of the others. This is great if you want to learn but not good for skimming.
True to the title, the recipes are all mostly healthy and a good introduction to Chinese cooking. This cookbook is also available in paperback or digital form.
5. Essential Wok Cookbook by Naomi Imatome-Yun
Very similar to some of the other wok cookbooks with “easy” or “simple” in the title, Naomi Imatome-Yun’s cookbook is great for first time wok users. The instructional section is wordy but is the most concise and informative of the cookbooks on this list.
The cookbook itself is well organized and pretty to look at. The images and the layout of the recipe pages is very user friendly. This would be a good cookbook to have if you want to just jump to specific recipes and do not need too much background, which is there if you want it.
Just like the others, “Essential Wok Cookbook” is available in paperback or digital form. There is some nice creativity and differentiation to the recipes, but they are all Chinese style cooking.
Most of the recipes in this cookbook are geared at recreating Chinese takeout recipes, just healthier. If you are really looking to have access to common Chinese restaurant dishes, this cookbook is a great option for you.
6. The Breath of a Wok by Grace Young & Alan Richardson
“The Breath of a Wok”, is the most unique option on this list. It is catered towards those with some wok cooking experience, and has a spiritual, Zen vibe to it that adds an interesting character to the cookbook.
The instructional section is very detailed, but with its focus on the passion associated with wok cooking, you find yourself wanting to read more. The recipes and procedures themselves are easy to read and simple to follow.
The style and aesthetics of this book are not as vibrant as some of the others on this list, but the book is still well organized. The recipes are very traditional Chinese, and a lot of emphasis is placed on tradition. This may not be the approach for everyone.
If you are more recipe driven, and do not have any interest in some of the historical or culinary aspects of wok cooking, this option is not for you. If you really want to dive into the foundations of Chinese cuisine and wok cooking, this cookbook is the winner.
“Breath of a Wok” is available in paperback or digital form.
7. The Everyday Wok Cookbook by Lorna Yie
Lorna Yie’s wok cookbook separates itself from the others on this list with its recipe variety and its emphasis on the versatility of the wok.
There are Chinese recipes, recipes from other Asian cuisines, and examples of how to use the wok to cook recipes from European/Western cuisines. This book has you covered from kung pao chicken to spaghetti and meatball night!
This is another beautifully designed cookbook, full of great images and quality copy. There is great organization, and the recipes are easy to follow. There is not as much instruction in this cookbook, and some details about caring for the wok appear to have been left out.
This wok cookbook is best for those who have some experience with the wok and are looking for ways to use it more. The “everyday” aspect of the title is a constant theme.
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