A lot of people, especially Westerners, would probably consider a Chinese wok as a specialty cookware — something that is used occasionally and only for cooking certain kinds of dishes. For me, however, and I’m not even Chinese, a wok is even more basic than the usual cooking or sauce pans.
I have two woks. The one on the right is about six years old. The only reason I bought a second one (on the left in the photo) is because I wanted a wok with a thicker bottom.
I use my woks for just about everything — frying, stir-frying, making stews and even soups. Before I bought a bamboo steamer, my woks even doubled as steamers.
Why is a wok such a multi-purpose cooking pan? It’s in the shape. Stirring is easy and there’s so much room for manipulation. And since we use a gas stove (there’s a hot plate but it’s rarely used), the shape of the wok is ideal for heat distribution. I can live without the regular frying pans but not without a wok.