A wok is a versatile cooking vessel that you can use to cook various dishes. It is important to season your wok before using it for the first time so that your food doesn’t stick to the surface. Seasoning means coating the cooking surface with a thin layer of oil that will create a barrier between the food and the metal. It will help prevent your food from sticking and make it easier to clean. But, do you know how to season a wok on an electric stove?
Of course, to cook delicious food in your wok, you need to learn basic things. It includes the wok you can use and what kind of electric stoves are suitable, especially seasoning a wok using an electric stove.
Types of Wok to Consider
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A wok is a deep, round-bottomed cooking vessel that has been used in Asia for centuries. The wok’s shape allows it to hold more food and retain heat better than other cooking vessels. There are several different woks that you may consider using, including:
This wok is the most popular and typically used on electric and gas stoves. Generally, people choose to use the wok’s original style since it is a versatile and durable cooking tool. It is much easier to use for stir-frying, stewing, searing, and boiling. What’s good about this wok is you don’t have to worry about uneven cooking.
When using an electric stove, it is best to place the round-bottomed wok in the middle of the cooking area. It will help evenly distribute the heat and give your dish that perfect flavor and texture.
Most cooks also prefer the round-bottomed wok since they can cook fast with it. This wok has higher sides with heat distribution, which is perfect for deep-frying or poaching. Moreover, the bottom’s round shape offers easy stirring of the ingredients, making it ideal for stir-frying. Round-bottom wok gets hot quickly and retains heat well for even cooking.
A wok ring is an accessory that you can use when cooking with a round-bottomed wok on an electric stove. This metal ring fits around the wok’s base and helps stabilize it on the stovetop. It also prevents the wok from wobbling, which can cause hot spots and uneven cooking.
If you’re using a gas stove, you don’t need a wok ring because the flames will hold the wok in place. However, suppose you’re using an electric stove. In that case, we highly recommend using a ring since the cooking area is not as round as that of a gas stove.
Nowadays, the most common wok used by many than the traditional woks is the flat-bottomed wok. This wok has a large cooking surface and is excellent for recipes requiring more ingredients.
When cooking with a flat-bottomed wok, you need to place it on a specifically designed burner for woks. The best way to use this wok is by heating the cooking area before adding the oil. Then, add your ingredients and start cooking.
The main downside to using a flat-bottomed wok is that it’s not heating as fast as a round-bottomed wok. Additionally, if you’re not careful, your food can stick to the bottom and sides of the wok.
Types of Electric Stoves
Now that you know the different woks you can use, it’s essential to learn about the different types of electric stoves suitable for cooking with them. There are three electric stoves: coil-top, smooth-top or glass-ceramic, and induction.
A coil-top stove is the most common electric stove and has a heating element that looks like coils. This type of stove is best for cooking with a flat-bottom wok.
When cooking with a wok on a coil-top stove, you need to ensure that the wok does not cover the coils. The wok will not evenly heat if they are, and your food could burn. In addition, the sides of the wok may get too hot, which can cause the food to burn. If you’re using a round-bottomed wok, we recommend that you use a wok ring to keep it in place.
An induction stovetop is a newer electric stove that uses electromagnetic energy to create heat. This type of stove is best for cooking with a flat-bottomed wok. With this stovetop, the whole bottom of the wok heat up, so there’s no need for a wok ring.
When cooking with a flat-bottomed wok on an induction stovetop, you need to make sure that the bottom of the wok is entirely flat. If it’s not, the wok will not heat evenly, and your food could burn.
Keep in mind that not all cookware is induction-friendly. Suppose you’re using a round-bottomed or flat-bottomed wok that is not induction-friendly. In that case, you can still use it on an induction stovetop by using a cookware adapter.
🥘Glass-ceramic or smooth-top stove
A glass-ceramic or smooth-top stove is an electric stove with a smooth cooking surface. This type of stove is best for cooking with a flat-bottom wok. It’s because a wok ring can sit very well on top.
Also, you should never place a metal utensil on a glass-ceramic stove because it can cause scratches on the surface. It’s one of the reasons why a flat-bottomed stove isn’t suitable. The advantage of the round bottom is that the wok ring will leave a gap between the smooth-top stove and the bottom of the wok, making it scratch-free.
When cooking with a flat-bottom wok on a glass-ceramic or smooth-top stove, you need to ensure that the cooking surface is clean and dry. If it’s not, your food could stick to the surface. In addition, you should never leave a wok on a stovetop when it’s not in use.
Suitable Heat for Cooking Using Wok
Regardless of the electric stove that you want to use, it’s best to preheat it to medium-high heat (between 375 and 425 degrees Fahrenheit) for a minimum of 10 minutes before adding the oil. If the stove is not hot enough, your wok will not heat up, and your food will not cook properly.
Adding oil to a wok
When you’re cooking with a wok, you need to add oil to it before adding any ingredients. The oil will help seal in the flavor and prevent the food from sticking to the wok.
While adding the oil, swirl the wok to coat the entire wok. You can then add your ingredients. The heat setting should be between 145 degrees Fahrenheit to 300 degrees Fahrenheit to cook different dishes with a wok.
Using a Wok On an Electric Coil Stove
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As mentioned above, flat-bottom woks are the most suitable when cooking on a coil-top stove. Cooks prefer the extra stability and fast heat transfer that the flat bottom offers. The round-bottom woks are not preferable because they are not as stable, and heat is conducted slowly through the sides of the wok.
You can still use wok rings, though, but they can shake a lot on top of the coil-top stove. Ensure that you determine the actual dimensions of your burner to get the best fit ring before purchase. Don’t forget to assess how it feels to cook on a coil-top stove using the round-bottom woks.
Using a Wok On a Glass-Ceramic Stove
Photo Credit: National Gourmet Institute
If you have a glass-ceramic stove at home, a round-bottom wok is the best way to go. The ring will help to stabilize the wok and prevent it from wobbling around on the cooking surface.
You can still use a flat-bottom wok. However, it will leave scratches on the glass-ceramic surface over time. If you’re in a hurry to cook something, you can use a flat-bottom wok because they tend to heat faster. Most chefs prefer using a flat-bottom wok over a glass-ceramic stovetop due to its rapid heat conductivity.
When using a flat-bottom wok, always clean it thoroughly to prevent any food particles from sticking and ruining the surface. Glass-ceramic cooktops are easy to clean, but it’s still best to be cautious.
Using a Wok On an Induction Stove
If you’re lucky enough to have an induction stove at home, your wok will work best with a flat-bottom design. The magnetic field produced by the induction stove will create heat in the wok, cooking your food evenly.
You can still use a round-bottom wok, but it’s not as efficient as the flat-bottom design. The wok should be made of ferromagnetic materials like cast iron, stainless steel, or carbon steel. If the wok is not made of copper or aluminum, you will not be able to cook with it on an induction stove.
Induction stoves quickly heat and are much hotter than any other electric stoves. So, be careful about cranking it up to the maximum heat, around 600 degrees Fahrenheit. The wok will not need as much time to heat up as it would on a coil or glass-ceramic stove.
How to Season A Wok On An Electric Stove
Before using a wok for the first time, it’s important to season it. It will help create a non-stick surface and prevent your food sticking to the wok. Seasoning a wok using an electric stove is challenging, so you need to follow the proper procedure.
👨🍳Clean the wok
After buying a wok, make sure to spend some time cleaning it thoroughly. There might be some machinery oil left during the manufacturing. Some woks come with special instructions on how to clean it. You can just follow that.
Remove any stickers or residues that are on the surface. You can use mild dishwashing soap to clean it. Wear gloves, and using a scouring pad, scrub the pan thoroughly. Rinse it with warm water.
If the wok still has a lacquer or waxy-like coating that won’t come off, you can use a DIY cleaning solution. Fill the pan with water about three-quarters, add 1/4 cup baking soda or salt and boil it for about 10 to 15 minutes. The dirt and coating will start to come off. Make sure to scrub it with a scouring pad again after cooling it for a few minutes. Rinse well and dry the wok over medium-low or medium heat.
👨🍳Season the wok
Now, it’s time to season the wok. You will need some cooking oil, ginger, and a paper towel.
Once the wok is dry, add two to three tablespoons of over-heated oil to the wok, creating a thin coating inside. You can use any oil to coat the entire surface, including the sides. Subsequently, use a wok spatula or gently swirl it evenly spread the oil.
Add some chopped ginger to the oil and fry it for 15-20 minutes until you smell the fragrance. It will remove any metallic smell and make the wok rust-free in the long run. Turn off the heat, remove the ginger, and let the wok cool.
Wipe any excess oil with a paper towel. Make sure the wok is completely cool before washing it. Wash the wok thoroughly using a sponge. Do not use any metal scrubber as it will damage the seasoning.
Dry the wok and put it on a wire rack to cool. Now, your new wok is ready to use!
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is the most suitable wok for electric stoves?
A: The most suitable wok for electric stoves is the flat-bottom design. It will create heat evenly and cook your food faster. You can still use a round-bottom wok, but it depends on the types of electric stove you have, like a glass-ceramic or smooth-top stove.
Q: What happens if I don’t season a wok?
A: If you don’t season a wok, your food will start sticking to the surface, which will be difficult to clean. The seasoning creates a non-stick surface and makes the cleaning process much more manageable. A metallic smell will also remain in the wok that gets transferred to the food.
Q: How do I know if my wok is compatible with an electric stove?
A: Most woks are compatible with electric stoves, but some are not. If the wok is made of copper or aluminum, it will not be compatible with an induction stove. If the bottom is concave or not flat, it will also not be compatible with an electric stove. If you’re not sure, it’s best to contact the manufacturer.
Q: Can I use the same seasoning for a skillet?
A: No, you should not use the same seasoning for a skillet. The seasoning is designed explicitly for a wok and will not work with other types of cookware.
Q: Can I use a non-stick cooking spray to season my wok?
A: No, you should not use a non-stick cooking spray to season your wok. The chemicals in the cooking spray will damage the seasoning and make it less effective.
Q: What is the best oil to season a wok?
A: The best oil to season a wok is an over-heated oil. You can use any type of cooking oil, but it’s best to use vegetable or groundnut oil. Do not use olive oil as it will smoke and create a bad taste.
Q: Do I have to season a wok every time I use it?
A: No, you do not have to season a wok every time you use it. The seasoning will last for several uses. However, if you notice that your food is starting to stick or the wok is challenging to clean, then you should re-season it.
Electric stoves might not be traditionally used to cook Chinese cuisine. Still, they can be used to cook a delicious meal such as your favorite chicken recipe. So, don’t hold back if you want to buy a quality wok. Using electric stoves may not be the most common way to season a wok, but it definitely gets the job done. With just a few simple steps, you can have a perfectly seasoned wok that will last for years.
Follow these instructions, and your food will start sticking less, the wok will be easier to clean, and you’ll get that delicious wok flavor in every dish.