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Since You Asked: Basic wok is best

I have a new gas stove and also would like to purchase a new wok. The stove's manual recommends a flat-bottomed wok. Do you have any more specific suggestions?

— Mary P., via email

Stir-frying is seeing renewed interest with the book "Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge," by Grace Young. In interviews with national food writers, Young recommends a flat-bottomed wok, more specifically a 14-inch, carbon-steel model with a long, wooden handle and small, wooden "helper" handle. This design, she says, is best for gas stoves.

Young doesn't endorse a particular manufacturer, but says the kind she describes usually costs less than $25. Although that's pennies compared with the cost of your new stove, make sure a new wok will last and perform well by seasoning it before using.

To season: Heat your wok over high heat until a bead of water vaporizes in 1 to 2 seconds. Add 2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil, 1/2 cup sliced, unpeeled ginger and 1 bunch scallions cut into 2-inch pieces. Reduce heat to medium and stir-fry for 5 minutes, pressing seasonings into wok from its well to its edges. Once ginger and scallions are brown and a little crusty, remove wok from heat. Discard vegetables. Let wok cool, rinse with hot water and wipe out with a soft sponge. Dry by returning to a burner over low heat; never dry a wok with a paper towel or cloth. Always clean and dry as described above

To give your wok a "facial," heat as described above, remove from heat, then add 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon peanut or vegetable oil. With three paper towels folded into a thick pad, scrub wok with salt-oil mixture to rub off food debris and moisturize wok's surface. Wipe out, clean and dry as described above.