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The flat-bottomed wok is generally best for an electric stove.
There are two types of electric stoves – the coil stove and the glass-ceramic top stove. Usually, the electric coil stoves are an older technology and often are found in apartments. The glass-ceramic top stoves are more expensive and easier to clean than the coil stoves, but can scratch or break easily.
With the electric coil stove, the flat-bottomed wok can be placed right on top of the heating coils. With the glass-ceramic stove, you can do the same or use a wok ring; however, there are other considerations to address.
The main point to remember when you are cooking with a wok is that it needs to be hot, really hot. It is necessary to pre-heat the wok and bring the temperature up gradually. This will help prevent warping of your carbon steel wok. This is an excellent practice to follow when using any carbon steel cookware.
If you are going to use an electric stove for using your wok, then the following questions are essential:
- Should I Use a Round or Flat-Bottomed Wok?
- What Kind of Electric Stove Can I Use?
- How Hot Should I Make my Burners Under the Wok?
- Can I Use a Wok Ring With an Electric Stove?
- How Hot Does an Electric Glass-Ceramic or Porcelain Stovetop Get?
- How Hot Does an Electric Coil Stovetop Get?
Should I Use a Round or Flat-Bottomed Wok?
Using a flat-bottomed wok is preferred over a round-bottomed wok.
With a flat-bottomed wok, the carbon steel on the bottom of the wok can make contact with the electric coil burner or the glass-ceramic burner. However, flat-bottomed carbon steel woks are not recommended for glass-ceramic stovetops. The only wok I would safely recommend for a glass ceramic cooktop is the Joyce Chen, pre-seasoned cast iron wok. The bottom is flat, approx. 6″ diameter, and will sit flat (which is necessary) on your glass-ceramic stove top.
A round-bottomed wok may be used, if you use a wok ring.
What Kind of Electric Stove Can I Use?
Although they may be called by different brand names, all flat-top cookstoves are made of a glass-ceramic blend, rather than being all-ceramic or all-glass. It is this blend of glass and ceramic that produces a good cooking surface. Each appliance company has a trademarked name for its brand of glass-ceramic. Some stovetops are even made of, or called, porcelain.
These smooth tops are formed first as glass and then treated with heat, which causes the glass to partially crystallize. This process gives the cooktop the expansion capabilities of ceramic without the porous nature of a pure ceramic. Therefore, these glass-ceramic cooktops can handle extreme temperature changes without breaking.
The problem is this: IF you drop a hard object, like a wok, on the glass-ceramic surface, it will break, and IF you drag your wok across the glass-ceramic surface, the wok can easily scratch the stovetop. For these reasons, glass-ceramic cooking surfaces are not the best on which to use a flat-bottomed wok. No matter how careful you are, your wok will scratch your cooktop. I would not use a carbon steel wok on a glass-ceramic stovetop.
A cast iron wok would be recommended for glass-ceramic stovetops. The potential for scratching the stovetop is diminished. You still have to be careful not to drop the wok on the glass-ceramic surface, because it can crack. The Joyce Chen cast iron wok would be a good option.
If you use a round-bottomed wok, then you will need to use a wok ring. Using a wok ring will help to stabilize your wok. If you try to use a round-bottomed wok on a ceramic top stove, it will scratch the glass surface if it is not stabilized. When you use a wok ring, the bottom of the wok does not make contact with the cooking surface. This protects your stovetop, but it presents the problem of not being able to get the wok hot enough.
Induction Stove Top
Induction stoves would be a better choice over the glass-ceramic or porcelain stovetops. Induction stoves require a high iron content in the pan. Carbon steel pans and woks are 99% iron and 1% carbon, which makes them perfect for use with an induction stove. The only drawback is that their stovetop surfaces can also break. If you drop a carbon steel wok or cast iron wok on the stovetop, it will crack, so be careful. Do not use a wok ring when using an induction stove.
How Hot Should I Make my Burners Under my Wok?
Whether you are using a porcelain (glass-ceramic) top electric stove or a coiled electric stove, make sure you pre-heat your wok slowly. Gradually increase the temperature up to about the 3000-watt level or higher. Do not apply maximum heat to a cold wok or any carbon steel cookware. Doing this could cause your wok or pan to warp.
If you are using a cast iron wok, the same heating principles apply. Cast iron can also warp under certain conditions. The trick is to bring up the temperature slowly. Putting maximum heat under a cold pan or wok will cause warping.
Can I Use a Wok Ring With an Electric Stove?
Yes and No. You CAN use a wok ring on an electric stove.
If you are using an electric coil stovetop, a wok ring won’t sit very well on top of the coils, so I would not recommend the use of a wok ring on an electric coil stove.
If you are using an electric glass-ceramic stovetop, you would need to use a round-bottomed wok with a wok ring. However, because of the potential for damage to the stovetop, I would never recommend the use of the wok or the wok ring on this stovetop.
How Hot Does an Electric Glass-Ceramic or Porcelain Stovetop Get?
Electric Glass-Ceramic or Porcelain Stovetops
Some stovetops have a low simmer setting that will melt cheese, gently simmer sauces and soups or heat up leftovers slowly. Simmer settings generally adjust the temperature of the food in the pot to approximately 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
The low setting is ideal for simmering more quickly. Depending on the type of stovetop, it can range around 195 degrees Fahrenheit.
The medium setting is ideal for cooking vegetables. It ranges from 210 to 300 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the type of stovetop.
The high setting is ideal for use with a wok. This high setting ranges from 300 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
Some Additional Information
If you are using a glass-ceramic top or porcelain top, remember that these tops heat unevenly, and they take a long time to heat up or cool down. This is because glass is a poor conductor of heat.
A problem common to all electric stoves is slow and uneven heating. Electric heating elements don’t respond as quickly as gas burners, so you will have to wait longer to achieve the desired temperature. Also, once you do reach the optimum temperature for your meal and have reduced the heat, the stove will take longer to lower in temperature.
How Hot Does an Electric Coil Stovetop Get?
Electric Coil Stovetops
Electric coil stove tops are usually rated in wattage. The wattage can range from 100 to 3000 watts. Depending on the model, there will be some burners with different wattage ranges. I recommend only using flat-bottomed woks on electric coil stove tops, making sure that the bottom of the wok is as flat as possible.
I use a gas stove.
If I had to use an electric stove, I would limit it to two choices:
- My first choice would be the electric coil stovetop, because I can put my flat-bottomed wok directly on the coil heating elements. Also, I would not have to worry about scratching or cracking the top of the burners.
- My second choice would be to use an induction stovetop, because it heats the bottom of the wok more evenly and more quickly than the glass-ceramic stovetops. The induction stovetop uses an electrical, magnetic heating principal. The downside is that the surface of the induction cooktop may crack, if you drop a cast iron or carbon steel pan on it. Remember that if you use induction cooking, you will need a high iron content in your cookware. Carbon steel cookware is perfect because it has 99% iron and 1% carbon. Cast iron, on the other hand, has about 97-98% iron and 2-3% carbon, but is still okay to use with induction cooking. Even though you could use cast iron cookware or woks, I would still prefer to use carbon steel cookware. It is lighter in weight, easier to make non-stick, has a higher iron content and is less likely to crack the glass surface of the induction cooking stove.
What is the best material for a wok? The best material for a wok is carbon steel. Traditional Asian woks are all made from carbon steel.
Can I use a wok on an induction stove? Woks made from magnetic materials such as cast iron or carbon steel will work great on an induction stove, if they have flat bottoms.