I want to make stir fry and fried rice. Stupid question, but should I cook it in a wok, or can I pull off the same quality in a cast iron skillet? What are the benefits of woks if I want to invest in one?
You need heat and lots of it. The average gas stove in homes is about 7,000 BTUs. A good wok burner will push you up to 130,000 BTUs and more.
And since you're going to be cooking on a wok burner, then a wok is the right choice.
But if you just want to make shitty stir fries, then by all means do it your way.
You can use a skillet.
The only issues I ever have is when I try to use rice that's only a day old, or so, as it still has a lot of moisture and can want to stick to the pan. Rice that's been in the fridge for 3 or more days always turns out good.
>can never do this because any little bit of leftover rice I leave in the fridge my mom inhales
Basically this. Good fried rice requires some serious heat. It also requires being tossed, which is difficult to do with the heavy weight and flat shape of a skillet
On the other hand, Woks require an actual fire--either gas or over charcoal/wood/etc. If you don't have that then you have no choice but to use a flat skillet, in which case you'll have to make an approximation of the dish instead.
I have a wok, but nothing to burn it on at the moment, I inherited it recently. Is it worth it to get a fire pit for it? I use a charcoal grill, so I usually have charcoal on hand at any given time.
Not in my opinion. If you want to buy something that lets you use the wok easier then I'd suggest a "turkey fryer" burner like pic related. They are less expensive and easier to use than an actual fire. I posted the pic with the grill to illustrate that you can do that in a pinch if you already have the grill (which many people do).