27. September 2016
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.
An induction wok by CookTek.
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.
Improving efficiency while building flavor and texture
In many commercial kitchens, temperatures quickly rise. Restaurant kitchens serving Asian cuisine can become incredibly hot because of gas-fired wok cooking. A wok’s burner generates tremendous heat – many times the BTUs of a household stove – which warms up the kitchen considerably.
Enter an induction wok built by SCHOTT-partner CookTek. Woks thrive on high heat, and energy-efficient induction cooktops can generate those temperatures without much energy loss. Compared to open flames, which lose heat energy into the air, induction wok burners focus the heat on the pot and food – and nothing more. As a result, less energy is wasted and the kitchen’s temperature is kept cooler, but the food cooks just as fast and the flavors and textures of the food remain just as delicious.
Old cuisine meets new technology
The wok is timeless. Its simplicity brings complexity to the food it cooks. Unchanged for centuries, a wok is the vessel of choice for many Asian cuisines.
But technology is altering modern cooking in countless ways, and induction cooktops specifically built for round-bottom woks can change the way these classic cuisines are prepared. Energy efficient and clean, induction cooktops bring tremendous heat to a wok and allow chefs to stir fry, steam, braise, and deep fry like they have been for hundreds of years.
Old meets new. East meets West. Cooking in a wok on induction? Delicious as always.