A wok is one of the most versatile and widely used pieces of equipment in a modern kitchen. It is unbeatable for cooking food quickly while sealing in the flavor and colors of the ingredients. However, these days gas stoves are increasingly being replaced by electric ones. The question is, can you use a wok on an electric stove?
The answer to your burning question is yes! You can use a wok on an electric stove. Although, that’s not to say there’s a bit of a learning curve with that. The curve isn’t steep, and you’ll be making some delicious food in no time!
This guide will cover the information you need to know when using a wok on an electric stove. In addition, we’ll take you through the different types of woks so you have a better idea of which one will work best for you!
Table of Contents
- Starting With The Basics: What Is A Wok?
- Types Of Woks
- Round-Bottomed Wok
- Flat-Bottomed Wok
- Types Of Electric Stoves
- Electric Coil Stove
- Glass-Ceramic Stove
- How To Cook With A Wok
- Seasoning Your Wok Before The First Use
- Heating Your Wok Correctly
- Pros And Cons Of Using A Wok
- Related Questions
- Which is better flat or round bottom wok?
- What should a seasoned wok look like?
- What happens if you don’t season a wok?
- Start Cooking!
Starting With The Basics: What Is A Wok?
A wok is a frying pan, often with a convex base. It can be made of several different materials, such as:
- Cast iron
It is unrivaled in the number of ways it can be used: stir-frying, boiling, steaming, smoking, in addition to many other techniques.
There are two common types of handle: either loops on opposite sides of the pan or a more typical stick handle. The stick handle is more convenient to use:
- It facilitates the cooking process.
- It prevents your hands from getting too close to the heat source, protecting them from burns.
Types Of Woks
Two types of the wok are used all over the world. The best-known is the round-bottomed (convex) wok, and the other is the flat-bottomed wok. While they have a different appearance, they can be used almost interchangeably. Let’s look at each one in more detail.
The advantage of a round-bottomed wok is that it can mix some ingredients very quickly. The shape also helps the heat to spread equally around it.
However, to make it more stable, you need to invest in a metal wok ring. The wok sits in this, slightly above the heat source. The wok ring’s advantage is that it makes it possible to use your work safely with an electric stove, avoiding scratches or other types of damage.
A flat bottomed wok is ideally suited to work with an electric stove. Sitting fully on the stovetop, it gets the heat spreads evenly across the pan’s base and up the sides. No wok ring is required as the design ensures it is stable.
Types Of Electric Stoves
Before we discuss how to use a wok on an electric stove, it’s essential to understand the difference between the two main types of electric stoves:
- Those with electric coils
- Those with a glass or ceramic top
Electric Coil Stove
With electric coil stoves, a flat bottomed wok is more appropriate as it can be placed directly onto the heating coils. The heat will be distributed evenly over the wok’s base so that the food will cook properly, with all parts heated through together.
In particular, carbon-steel woks work exceptionally well on electric coils. However, this kind of stove is not appropriate for round-bottomed woks because, while you cook, you have to keep holding the handle to prevent it from toppling over. It will not stand up alone, so it can’t be left unattended.
With glass or ceramic stovetops, a round-bottomed wok will perform better. However, it would be best if you placed a wok ring on the stovetop before switching on the heat. This will keep the wok steady. In addition, it means that there is always a gap of ½”- 1″ between the bottom of the wok and the glass or ceramic surface.
This type of stove is also the better choice for a round-bottomed wok for yet another reason. A glass or ceramic stovetop is made of durable material that can handle extreme temperatures without breaking or cracking.
However, if a heavy or hard object is dropped on it, it’s easily damaged. This is why we don’t recommend choosing a carbon-steel wok to use with this kind of stovetop. Flat-bottomed woks are not recommended either. This is due to the higher risks of scratching, breaking, or otherwise damaging the surface.
How To Cook With A Wok
The process is simple, yet it’s very involved. There are several steps you’ll need to take in order to properly cook with a wok in general, let alone on an electric stove. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
Seasoning Your Wok Before The First Use
Before using a new wok for the first time, it is essential to season it correctly. Certain oils used by the manufacturer to prevent rusting need to be removed before the food is cooked in it.
To season a new wok correctly, follow these steps:
- Scrub your wok. Using a steel scouring pad and liquid soap, scrub the wok thoroughly, inside and outside, to remove the chemical coating. Put the wok on the stovetop and dry it using a high heat setting. Black spots will appear on the base, and the wok’s color will change to a gunmetal grey. This means that your wok has been heated enough.
- Cool the wok down. Let your wok sit away from heat for about 5 to 7 minutes.
- Add pre-heated oil. Add some pre-heated oil into the wok, creating a thin non-stick coating. This can be something as simple as vegetable or coconut oil.
- Heat your wok. Heat the wok again, adding two tablespoons of oil. Spread it around the wok. Add some fresh ginger pieces and stir fry for 15-20 minutes. This will remove the metallic odor, and your wok will be protected from rust in the future.
- Rinse your wok. Take the ginger out of the wok and remove the wok from the stove, so it cools down. Rinse the wok with a sponge and warm water. It is now ready for use.
Heating Your Wok Correctly
Regardless of the type of cooker top you have, it’s essential to know how to use it correctly when using a wok.
- Preheat your wok. First, you’ll want to pre-heat it with nothing in it for at least 10 minutes.
- Add the oil. Once it’s really hot, it’s the moment to add oil. Swirl the oil around the wok so the entire surface is coated.
- Add your ingredients. Only when the oil is really hot add all the ingredients according to the recipe you’re following. Keep stirring vigorously and moving the components around the wok to mix them and meld the flavors.
When you start the heating process, do it slowly and gradually increase the temperature. This will avoid warping the wok. A temperature between 45°F to 300°F is typically required to cook food in a wok. Take special care to ensure foods such as meat and pork are properly cooked through.
Pros And Cons Of Using A Wok
- Round-bottomed and flat bottomed woks have their distinct advantages, and you can choose the option that best matches your stovetop.
- Cooking with a wok is quick and straightforward, so when you need an easy meal, fast, you can create one with any combination of ingredients to suit your taste.
- Food cooked in a wok retains its color and flavors. Because cooking time is minimized, the nutritional value is maintained.
- Unlike fancy electrical appliances such as slow cookers and steamers, washing after use is easy. Just use dish soap and clean water when you’ve finished cooking.
- There aren’t many! A round-bottomed wok needs to be held for stability, but this can quickly be resolved with a wok ring.
- Woks need high temperatures, so if you use them frequently, you may notice the effect on your electricity bill. That being said, cooking time is generally shorter than with other cooking methods, so that the impact may be minimal.
For an electric stove, a flat-bottomed wok is best. The round-bottomed woks usually reflect the heat, causing damage to the wok and the stove.
What should a seasoned wok look like?
The wok will look a bit mottled or might have blackened areas. The more you cook with, the darker it will get, which gives you a naturally nonstick surface.
What happens if you don’t season a wok?
If you don’t season your wok, it will most likely stick, no matter how much oil you use. Also, you’ll damage it with scratches, which will grow worse over time.
The flat-bottomed wok is excellent for cooking on an electric stove. However, you need to make sure you properly season it beforehand. Cooking on an electric stove may feel a bit different, but it works just as well! Select the correct type, and use the right supplies for the best experience.