Stir-fry pan beats wok at its own game

Though it’s made in Sheboygan, Wis., this is the pan that Vicki Fan and the crew at Beacon use for stir-frying rather than a Chinese (or Japanese) wok. Smaller and easier to handle than many traditional woks, the Vollrath pan has a single long handle with a “Gatorgrip” coating -- which means the handle won’t get hot and you can maneuver it much like a saute pan. The flat bottom sits level on the stove and doesn’t require a separate base like many older-style woks do. And it’s made from carbon steel, which heats more evenly and is more durable than aluminum. (Though you can purchase woks with nonstick coating, it’s unadvisable, due to the high heat used in many cooking techniques.) This stir-fry pan, like most woks, needs to be seasoned, a simple procedure in which you repeatedly heat and oil the pan. Properly seasoned and cared for, a good wok can last years, even decades.

Vollrath carbon steel stir-fry pan, $45.50; at Surfas in Culver City, (310) 559-4770,; and at Chef’s Toys in Santa Ana, (714) 435-9222 and

-- Amy Scattergood