Why do some recipes mention using a wooden spoon, specifically, to stir? Why wooden over plastic?
Some of the characteristics of a wooden spoon make it popular with chefs:
It's powerful; This means that it can continuously stir thick things or scrape off the bottom of the pan.
This is soft; This means that, apart from the possible non-stick pan, it won't scratch your kitchen utensils.
This is insulation; This means that if you're making candy or something else that's sensitive to temperature changes, you don't have to put a tool in there and it suddenly crystallizes and it absorbs heat from your dish;
It has high heat resistance; That means it's not going to melt, if it stays at the edge of the pot or if it's stirring something very, very hot;
This is wood; That means it looks good and feels good. For those who are trained in the classical, and internship in classical trained people, they are likely to learn to cook wooden spoon, so they will have some familiar feeling, maybe a little nostalgic.
For some of the above, plastic works well. Plastic is soft and insulated, so there's no problem. But it doesn't have that much heat resistance, so if you're not careful, it melts. Also, it's not strong enough to scrape the bottom of the pot or stir anything particularly thick. Finally, some plastics release chemicals when heated, so if your plastic does not contain bpa, there may be some health risks in using plastic utensils in hot liquids.
Metal vessels are well resistant and heat resistant, but not soft or insulated.
Silicone is a good substitute for wood. In general, if it is a well-made vessel, it can handle 1-4 problems. Difficult than silica gel has no point, so you may be more easy to scrape wooden stirrer than silica gel, silicone is a lot easier to clean and take care of, if you are not used for wood, you are not special nostalgia, it is a good choice. I know my advice may offend some people, but I insist.
If you do decide to use wooden spoon, some people will recommend flat spoon.