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Wok for Electric Stove?

  • s

Does anyone have a recommendation for a wok for flat electric cooktops?

I've always used my trusty cast iron monster prior, but this home has electric and I've gotten used to it now that I've been cooking on it a while.

I realized I hadn't cooked any chinese in a long time, and was going to but of course, my old wok won't be appropriate for the cooktop. So, I find myself in the market for something useable.

Obviously, would prefer cast iron but I suspect that won't be the case.

Thanks!

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  1. Atlas brand, carbon steel with a flat bottom will get you good contact with the electric burner unless it is a smooth top and then I don't have the faintest idea of what to suggest.

    9 Replies
    1. re: Candy

      Yep, smooth top :-(

      1. re: sivyaleah

        Everyone says that this is wrong, but I use my round-bottomed woks on my electric stove. Get a ring, and turn the heat all the way up.

        1. re: Noah
          j
          JK Grence (the Cosmic Jester)

          How on earth does the wok get hot enough to cook anything that way?

          If you have a smooth top, then your best bet for woks is to use a nice big skillet.

          1. re: JK Grence (the Cosmic Jester)

            Agreed.

            Agreed.

            I have a gas range and one burner has a Power Boost for extra heat and it is still barely enough heat to properly cook food in a wok.

            1. re: JK Grence (the Cosmic Jester)

              "If you have a smooth top, then your best bet for woks is to use a nice big skillet."

              Yes. We have a new smooth top that we mostly love, but wok cooking just doesn't work well, and we miss it.

              1. re: JK Grence (the Cosmic Jester)

                Yeah, I tried that when I was first stir frying, and with a skillet, if you are really stir frying (as in MOVING the veggies around), they inevitably slide out and create greasy skid marks all over the stove top—yech!

                Again, I am very experienced and while I honestly prefer my outdoor 50k BTU propane stir fries (where the wok hei is overwhelming when first served), I really invite those who don't have many options to explore their options, including a round bottom wok on an electrical coiled stove. On my classic electrical coil stove, my 14" round bottom gets almost as hot as my flat bottom (we are talking "white hot", where the seasoning in the center is graying out as temps get over 600F), and it is easier and funnier to move the food around in a classic round bottom...!

                Pictured below is what works for me:

                 
              2. re: Noah

                I'm an experienced wok-aholic, and I too have been impressed with modest stir-fries over electrical coils in a round bottomed in a wok ring turned upside down (small side down). Easily equals my flat bottomed woks over the coils. Takes a bit longer to get hot than the flat bottom, so you really have to watch overloading and getting temperature lag; so naturally I don't like it for stir fries for over 3 people (but the same applies for my flat bottoms as well. The problem with most flat bottoms is that while they may be in direct contact with the burner, it's only 6-7 inches of an 8" burner).

                Nothing compares to the outside 50K BTU propane wok burner, but for a modest stir-fry for two, it always amazes me how the round bottom with the upside down wok ring over the electrical coils manages to completely burn the seasoning off the bottom of the wok (as does the 50K BTU propane burner), and produce a fairt amount of wok hei if the ingredients are fresh enough...!

                In the end, what I have learned the most is experiment for yourself, no matter whats the "experts" or the "masses" tell you—I ADORE Grace Young and her books, but I think she is rather far off about her adherence to only the flat bottom wok for the average home, and her seasoning technique is timid at best (but I LOVE her great selection of woking advice, knowledge, lore, and recipe selection)...

            2. re: Candy

              I have a glass top electric range and
              I find a flat bottom wok works great on it.
              Actually better than the electric range
              we had with the coils.

              1. re: Candy

                After making my reply about my successful stir fries on electrical stoves with round bottom woks, it dawned on me that I should have noted that I was talking about smaller stir fries—for two people at the most, and usually just for one. If you get much more than 8 ounces of meat, or a couple cups of veggies, the wok does indeed get too bogged down.

                But if you live alone, or you and your partner are light eaters, as I posted, a classic round bottom on an upside down wok ring, can work. My favorite (and very well seasoned) 14" Chinese wok fits loosely in the wok ring, but actually sits on top of the center of the burner, and made me a great lunch today—chopped turkey marinated with a little oyster sauce, and broccolini—complimented with fresh thinly sliced ginger and some soy sauce (my wok is so well seasoned, this is the only "sauce" needed for a simple stir fry where the ingredients, and the wok hei, really shine). And the broccolini was fresh and great today!

              2. This is probably not what you want to hear but IMNSHO gas is mandatory for Chinese (especially stir-fries) cooking in a wok! I use an older, (pre Sub-Zero) Wolf Range and with a burner on full high heat, it's just hot enough. I pre-heat my 14" hammered steel wok for several minutes before adding peanut oil. If you can get a single propane wok burner, not too expensive, crank it up, (outside) and you will be much more likely to acheive WOK HAY!!!

                A few weeks back somebody posted a link to an online site that showed these burners. I have seen them at a Chinese restaurant supply store that I shop at and have considered buying one, (and a larger wok!).

                1 Reply
                1. re: sel

                  And if you live in small apartment in a big city with no outside space, or in a building where no propane appliances are allowed...?

                2. Get the book, " The Breath of a Wok " by Grace Young.
                  It is usually available at the library. It will tell
                  you all you ever wanted to know about woks. There is
                  a very good section in the book about seasoning the
                  various types of woks. One of the best reasons to
                  read the book in my opinion.

                  1. Cook's Illustrated recommends a large frying pan for electric stove stir-frying.

                    I use a 4-qt saucier (a.k.a. chef's pan). Unfortunately, you will see various ordinary-shaped pans identified as sauciers and/or chef's pans but the style I mean is about 4" deep, with a wide flat bottom that curves up to straight sides, with a long handle and a helper handle. So, it is like a cross between a skillet and a wok. It is my go-to pan for all sorts of cooking.

                    1. I had an Amana cook top and found the Le Creuset wok worked great, a small flat bottom and a true curved inside. I now use it on gas. On the electric it worked just as well as on gas. If your cast iron one has a flat bottom you should be fine, if not, the LC is well worth the high cost.

                      1. I'm not a gas-range fan, & have been cooking terrific Asian food (stir-frying, steaming, braising, deep-frying) for DECADES using the same carbon steel wok (with ring) on my electric ranges over the years that my mom purchased for me from an Asian grocery store back in 1974. Works great (gets white-hot as hell when required), & can't imagine anything else (for me, at least) being superior to it.

                        1. Newer flat top elec stove, thinks too much, just when element gets red hot and generates enough heat for hot wok, it cools down automatically , as if saying "I'm Too hot"

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: jeepguy

                            Yikes, that'a the worst! I've heard of such stoves, and lived with a German electronic hotplate that did that, until I gave it away out of frustration.

                            That really is the worst stove--the pits! I feel for ya'...!

                          2. You need a flat bottom wok. We use a cast iron one and it works fine. Let it fully heat until the oil inside produces a faint white smoke before cooking. A round bottom simply will not work even with a ring stand.