Friday, February 23Not Your Ordinary English-Tagalog Dictionary

What is Wok in Tagalog? History, Designs, and Materials

A wok in Tagalog is called “kawa” or “talyasi,” a cooking pan used for cooking huge amounts of food. It looks like a cross between a frying pan (kawali) and a saucepan (kaserola), but a larger version. Because of its huge size, the wok is usually used in big celebrations or gatherings such as feasts. Almost every household in the Philippine provinces has a “kawa.”

Wok in Tagalog
Woks in the Philippines

The origin of the wok is unclear but it’s believed to have first appeared in ancient China during the Han Dynasty. But at that time, woks were only made from clay. It was only during the Ming Dynasty when woks were made of metal. Chinese blacksmiths made woks by forging raw iron at a very high temperature and polished the finished product using a hammer.

Typically, a wok has a round bottom with sloped sides but some have a flat bottom. The two most common types of woks are the Mandarin style and the Cantonese style. Mandarin woks usually have a long handle on one side, made of wood or metal. On the other hand, Cantonese woks have one U-shaped handle on each side. Both of them have a standard diameter of 14 inches but can reach up to 24 inches.

Despite being popular in Asian countries for centuries, the wok only arrived in the United States in the 1800s. This was when gold was discovered in California, and Chinese immigrants established restaurants and brought woks to cook food. Since there’s usually only one fireplace, woks were hung directly over the fire to cook plenty of food faster.

Cooking food using wok has many other advantages. Here, the sloping sides and round bottoms allow the sauce to run downward faster. Metal also conducts heat quickly and cools down rapidly once it’s removed from the fire, preventing the food from being overcooked. This brilliant design makes wok even more useful in cooking massive amounts of food with less effort.

Woks are commonly made from cast iron or carbon steel, but some are crafted using aluminum and stainless steel. Nonetheless, the carbon steel type is the most popular due to its lightweight and non-sticky design. Stainless steel woks have smooth surfaces, making them very easy to clean. However, they are a lot less porous than the carbon steel or cast iron types. Therefore, using them for cooking can be quite challenging.

Use talyasi in a sentence.


Kelangang ihanda na natin ang talyasi. Sa linggo na ang pyesta.


We need to prepare the wok now. The feast will be this Sunday.

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