Tips For Using Wok on a Gas Stove

You want SIZZLE not FIZZLE! I think I coined a new phrase. Wok Stars, it’s a no brainer to use your wok on your gas stove, right? Well, I’ve got 3 tips to help you succeed even more!

Wok Stars, if you’re frustrated with your heat output, please take 2 photos like the ones below so I can help you figure it out!
1)  take a photo from the front with your wok sitting on the burner you currently use
2)  take a photo of your whole gas stove from above without wok so I can see the sizes of your burners and what kind of grid you have.

So, I asked two Wok Stars, Mary and Carla to take photos of their gas burners to illustrate their specific problems with their heat output and grid situation and below are my findings!  Oh, notice how their cast iron woks have beautiful patina!

Mary's GE gas stove's grate allows her to set wok directly on the grate so heat is closer which is great! However, the bigger burner's flames are again wide apart and the smaller burner doesn't give out enough BTU and she's experiencing some soupiness in the bottom of her wok!  So, Mary and many others  end up buying my Iwatani portable butane gas stove.

Mary’s GE gas stove’s grate allows her to set wok directly on the grate so heat is closer which is great! However, the smaller burner doesn’t give out enough BTU and she’s experiencing some soupiness in the bottom of her wok!

This higher btu burner is wider so heat is not focused at base of Mary's wok where she needs it!

This higher btu burner is wider so heat is not focused at base of Mary’s wok where she needs it!

Viking Gas Stove with horizontal grate. Notice the middle burner is biggest with left burners at 12,000 btu and right burners at

Here’s Carla’s Viking Gas Stove with horizontal grate. Notice the middle burner is biggest with left front burner at 12,000 btu and right front burner at 6.000 btu.

 

This wok ring is too deep so Carla's wok is further away from the heat. To remedy this, I've suggested getting a shallower ring or a Viking wok attachment.

This wok ring is too deep so Carla’s wok is further away from the heat. To remedy this, I’ve suggested getting a shallower ring or a Viking wok attachment.

Lightweight, thin walled, round bottom cast iron wok sits on wok ring on top of Viking gas stove with horizontal iron grate.

Here’s Carla’s wok which sits on a wok ring on top of Viking gas stove with horizontal iron grate. We tried it without the grate but then the ring is not deep enough to balance the wok!

Viking manual with BTU output for burners. Carla was using the middle biggest burner which everyone automatically assumes bigger is better. However, the flames are leaping up sides of the wok and not focused at base where it's needed most! So, I always suggest using a smaller burner!  However, Carla's right front is only 6,000 till Carla sent me manual and I see left front is 12,000!  Twice as powerful than the left front burner, so that's what Carla should use!

Viking manual with BTU output for burners. Carla was using the middle biggest burner which everyone automatically assumes bigger is better. However, the flames are leaping up sides of the wok and not focused at base where it’s needed most! So, I suggest using a smaller burner! However, Carla’s right front burner is only 6,000 and I see left front is 12,000! Twice as powerful than the left front burner, so that’s what Carla should use!

COOKING TIPS FOR GAS STOVE OWNERS:

Residential gas stoves are typically 7,000 to 10,000 btu which is still a bit low for wok cooking.

If you have an electric flat glass cooktop or coil, you won’t be successful. I’ve laid out all the reasons why here.

1) USE SMALLER BURNER
You may get better results using a smaller (lower btu) burner on your stove because the higher btu burners have the gas jets spaced wider apart so the heat is on the sides of the wok and not focused at the bottom where you need the heat most.

2) SET WOK DIRECTLY ON GRID
You can set your wok directly on the metal grid of your gas stove. Depending on the type of grid, the wok may wobble a bit.  That’s OK because when you stir fry you should be using your left hand in the wok mitt to steady the wok (lefties reverse it).

If the wobble bothers you, check with your stove manufacturer for a “wok attachment” especially designed to handle the wok.

Another alternative is to buy an inexpensive wok ring from your Asian market but it makes your wok further away from the flame. Best is to flip the ring so the wider diameter is at the top and the smaller at the bottom, this allows your wok to sit closer to the heat.

3) HIGH HEAT FOR OPTIMUM RESULTS
Remember, high heat is ESSENTIAL so the closer you are to the heat, the more success you will have with stir frying.

This Iwatani, 12,000 BTU portable gas burner is PERFECT for the 15 1/2 " cast iron wok. The heat is focused at the base where it's needed most.  I leave it sitting on top of my electric coil burner all the time so it's convenient so I end up using it for cooking most everything. This helps to build patina faster.

This Iwatani, 12,000 BTU portable gas burner is PERFECT for the 15 1/2 ” cast iron wok. The heat is focused at the base where it’s needed most. I leave it sitting on top of my electric coil burner all the time so it’s convenient and I end up using it for cooking most everything. This helps to build patina faster.

If you’re like Mary and tried all the above and still getting soupy veggies and not enough sear with your meats, a simple solution is to purchase my Iwatani portable gas stove which is 12,000 btu!  Yes, Mary is treating herself to one, once you get spoiled with this high heat, you cannot go back to using mediocre heat!

The stove comes in a handy briefcase so you’re completely mobile and can cook outdoors or take it camping, boating or visit friends to show off your wok skills! Click here for more details or to order your Iwatani Stove!

 

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