There are so many small family businesses in China and it's a rare opportunity to be able to come across a unique one. Down a narrow residential street on the outskirts of the city, the Cen brothers make carbon-steel fire-iron woks. They had learnt their craft from their father, who had since passed away and would be 96 years old if he were still alive today.
This has been the family business for roughly 80 years and the two brothers are now in their 60's. The brothers hand-cut rounds from sheets of carbon steel and use a charcoal burner to heat the metal before hammering. Using repeated heat and bare muscle, between the two, it takes 5 hours to fully complete one wok.
It is said that hammered carbon steel is better than a smooth surface as the hammering changes the structure of the steel, giving it greater strength and durabilty. Once seasoned, food will not stick to the surface.
I unfortunately don't have a gas stove at the moment and will have to hold off playing with my new wok. Even so, I'm very glad that I bought it and look forward to when I can start cooking with it!