CHOOSING the best wok for stir-frying is simple: Go for one made from carbon steel with a flat bottom that can sit on the stove. You'll get great seared flavor and aroma, referred to as wok hei, using high heat and little oil.

SEASONING a new wok is important for removing any metallic taste and creating a seal: Stir chives or green onions and a little oil in the pan over high heat until a mahogany patina develops. (Discard food and oil.)

PURCHASING this stir-fry essential won't put a big dent in your wallet. Wok Shop's 14-inch, flat-bottomed, carbon-steel wok (above) can be ordered online or picked up at their San Francisco store. $25,

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