Woks have a deep tradition throughout Asia, and they remain popular vessels for home and commercial cooks alike. A wok’s versatility and longevity means it can be used for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, day after day for years.
From a vegetable stir fry to a fried chicken, woks can handle traditional and modern techniques that require high heat, including steaming, roasting, and braising. As Asian cuisine grows more popular in the United States, Americans are tasting how a wok can transform simple ingredients into amazing foods with complex flavors.
This rich, deep, and delicious history can inspire fresh ideas built on 21st century technology, too. Take, for instance, ditching the traditional open flame and placing the classic round-bottom wok on an induction cooktop.
Classic meets modern technology
A wok’s utility lies in its simple but clever round-bottom design. Its curved shape means the base is intensely hot, cooking food fast. As food is pushed up the sides of the wok, it cooks slower because the sides are less hot than the base. Woks are traditionally forged in carbon steel or cast iron – materials great at holding onto heat.
But sit the wok on an induction cooktop and what happens? Induction cooking zones create alternating electrical currents in the wok, which generates the heat that’s transferred into the food. This method of cooking is efficient and fast because the pan is the heat source.
Since most woks are made of ferrous materials, they’re ideal for induction cooking. Eddy currents from the burner heat the base and sides of the wok, and it takes less than a minute to reach a high temperature.