How To Use An Electric Wok

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Think an electric wok is just for fried rice? Think again! But keep thinking about fried rice too because it's delicious.

Think an electric wok is just for fried rice? Think again! But keep thinking about fried rice too because it’s delicious.

Electric woks are handy cooking tools for making delicious dishes outside the kitchen (or inside). Although woks originated in Asia and people typically associate them with Asian dishes, there are many other ways you can use an electric wok.

You can make all kinds of dishes, from stir fry to breakfast, and woks are suited for all types of cooking as well. Here are some of the basics of using a wok, as well as some of the little-known dishes you can make with it.

The Basics

Electric woks are portable electric cooking devices, with up to a 14 inch rounded pan for a cookspace. It comes with the pan and an electric heating device that goes underneath. Always be sure to read all instructions that come with your electric wok thoroughly.

The portability of the electric wok is its biggest asset. You can cook pretty much anywhere, from the table, to the counter, to outdoors and more. With most models, you can also control the temperature. It heats up fairly quickly and it can reach up to 500°F. Most also have a teflon coating inside the pan.

Use wood utensils and high-heat oil

When cooking with your electric wok, you’ll want to use wooden utensils so that you don’t scratch up the teflon coating. You’ll also want to find a cooking oil that can withstand the up to 500°F temperatures without burning or smoking. Peanut oil and coconut oil are good choices. Avocado oil is gaining in popularity and has a very high smoke point: 520ºF!

Also make sure to wear an oven glove to hold the pan, since the handles often aren’t heat-proof.

This Presto electric wok has fantastic reviews on Amazon.

Work fast!

When working with high heat, you’ll want to move fast to avoid burning your ingredients. With wok cooking, a good idea is to pre-prepare (slice, dice, measure, chop) all of your ingredients before you turn on the heat. This will make adding the next ingredient fast and efficient.

These glass ramekins are perfect for prepping ingredients.
Feel like you’re on a cooking show!

Now that you know all the basics of cooking with an electric wok, here are a few ways to use it for all kinds of dishes (besides stir fry and fried rice).

Roast

For each of these dishes, you’ll start by turning the wok on and let it heat up on a high setting. Once it’s warm, pour about 2 tablespoons of cooking oil into the hot wok to start. Using your oven glove, pick up the wok and rotate it until the oil evenly coats the entire pan.

Now, you can make all kinds of meats in your wok. For a whole roasted chicken, rub the chicken with cooking oil and salt and pepper. Brown the outsides of the bird on either side (5-7 minutes each) and then reduce the heat to medium. Cover the wok and close the vent, and let the chicken roast for about 45 minutes. Check for doneness with a meat thermometer. (Remember 165ºF and above is safe to eat.)

Read my post on the best instant read thermometer.

You can also make pot roast this way. Brown your red meat, then add potatoes and any chopped vegetables you’d like to add. Cover the wok, but leave the vent open. Leave roasting until the vegetables are cooked all the way through.

Steam

Have you ever thought to use your electric wok to steam vegetables? If you have a bamboo steaming basket handy, as they’re the least likely to catch fire, pour some water or chicken broth into the wok and fill the basket with veggies. Place the basket inside the wok over the hot water or broth, and keep the heat setting on high to generate steam and thoroughly cook the vegetables.

You can also cook veggies on the grill.
Here are the best baskets.

French toast in a wok? Yes you can!

French toast in a wok? Yes you can!

Breakfast and More!

You can even use your electric wok to cook a delicious breakfast! It’s perfect for whipping up some eggs. The generous size of the wok’s cooking surface are great for making perfectly browned and flavorful French toast. Fry up hash browns or potatoes! You can think of your electric wok as a regular pan, only portable and with a slightly different shape. It’s good for use with all types of dishes.

Maintenance

Another perk of the electric wok is how easy they can be to clean and maintain. All you need to do is wipe it clean with a cotton dish cloth while it’s still hot. If it’s stained or there are extra food parts, use a little water to dampen the cloth. The temperature of the wok will sterilize it from there.

If you want to thoroughly clean your teflon wok in the sink, be sure to read the instructions or manual that came with your wok before submerging anything in water. With the electrical element of the cooking device, some parts of it are not safe for submersion in water. Also make sure to thoroughly dry all parts of the wok before plugging back in. Air drying overnight after regular towel drying will give you the best, safest results.

I’ll show you the best kitchen towels for drying dishes.

Wrap Up

Hopefully you’ve got some new ideas on how to use your electric wok. Remember it’s not only for stir-fries (though it’s great for that). The only limit is your imagination… and the nearest electrical outlet.

Additional Resources

Image credit via Flickr Creative Commons: Newtown Grafitti and Karen N.