Congratulations on owning the most advanced level in cooking technology- the induction cooktop! Cooking on an induction cooktop is always a hassle-free, smooth ride. It leaves the chef free from circling around the cooktop to make sure all is fine.
It takes minimum energy, food gets cooked in half the time and basically takes care of the cooking for you.
Coming to the question of whether a wok will work on an induction cooktop- Well, as long as it is made of a ferromagnetic material and has a good amount of flat base, definitely!
One of the greatest advantages of cooking on woks on induction is the rapid response to temperature. This makes for speedier cooking.
For a round base wok, there are high-end inductions present in the market nowadays to meet the demands by having a wok shaped surface(semi-round, curved). The wok sits on the curved surface on the induction burner.
These types are a bit expensive and are usually used in commercial establishments or restaurants.
The difficulty of a round wok working on a normal induction cooktop arises due to its round nature.
Let me explain!
Why a round base Wok won’t work and a flat base will?
We know that the induction cooktop works by inducing magnetic energy inside the ferromagnetic cookware. So if there is no cookware no heat will be generated right? Similarly, the base of the cookware must touch the base of the induction sufficiently for the induction process to work smoothly.
That way the intermittent electrical energy in the coil present beneath the cookware generates magnetic energy. The ferromagnetic cookware will allow the magnetic ions to pass through the base of the cookware.
Contact with base is therefore very important for the induction process to take place.
Chefs have tried to cook on a round base on induction and claim it to be a hit and miss. Sometimes the round base touching the induction cooktop is sufficient for the induction process and sometimes it isn’t. So the flatter the base the better the heat generation. For example, stir fry at high temperatures with a round base wok will not work very well.
Next, let us look into why the wok has to be ferromagnetic.
Why does the Wok need to be ferromagnetic?
There is a reason why the cookware has to be ferromagnetic in order to work on an induction cooktop. It is because the copper coil present beneath the induction can conduct electromagnetic force through the wok and generate heat.
If the cookware is not ferromagnetic, the actual inducement of magnetic energy will not take place in the wok as it won’t be able to cross the base of the wok. If no magnetic energy is allowed to cross inside, there will be no swirly eddy currents inside the cookware and heat will not be generated.
The actual process of induction occurs inside the cookware placed above the copper coil. Wrong cookware will, therefore, lead to an induction cooktop not working.
Let us look into which types of cookware will work on induction.
What type of “Wok” will work on induction?
Traditional cast iron woks work best. This is because it is made of ferrous material. To avoid scratching on the glass surface, silicon mats or thin silicon baking sheets can be used. Cast iron woks should be seasoned to prevent rusting and give a natural non-stick surface.
The only disadvantage is that the handles become very hot at high temperatures so it becomes difficult to lift.
There are also non stick surfaced, light weighed iron woks, magnetic stainless steel woks, carbon steel woks, enameled cast iron, preseasoned or ceramic coated woks which work wonderfully well on an induction cooktop.
Magnetic stainless steel woks can be used to cook acidic food without fear of leaching. In the case of carbon steel and cast iron woks, using acidic foods like lemon, tomatoes, and wine can destroy the seasoning and can leech the metal into food being cooked.
A big advantage of carbon steel woks over cast iron is the reduction in weight. It also heats up faster than cast iron and is cheaper yet a high-quality wok.
Enamelled wok can do without seasoning. Bare cast iron and carbon steel need to be seasoned. Enamelled woks also come in a variety of colors and look stunning in any kitchen.
An aluminum or copper wok only works when it is clad with a ferromagnetic material. Example- Iron or magnetic grade stainless steel.
The non-stick surface wok’s come with a coated PFOA free non-stick coating. They are easy to use and have a lighter weight. These are usually clad woks with outer stainless steel and an inner aluminum layer. The non-stick surface allows you to cook and sear at high temperatures.
Usually, the wok’s come with one handle on the side. But there are also heavy woks with two small handles on either side. Another variant that is usually common is wok with a small grasp handle on one side and a long handle on the other side.
The induction-compatible woks are also sold along with lids. Some also come with an internal rack for cooking meat, fish separately from the stir-fried vegetables. Go for a glass lid as it will be easy to view the cooking process from atop.
The usual size of an induction-compatible wok is 12 -16 inches. Usually, 12 to 14 inches wok is sufficient to feed four to six members of a family. Larger sizes can become problematic as the induction should also have a large heating element and larger sizes become difficult to clean in dishwashers. They are also difficult to store away.
Instead of lifting the wok to toss the food, you can use two spatulas to toss food. This comes as a lifesaver as lifting the wok can be heavy and the induction cooktop can go on standby or even shut down if the wok is lifted off it.
Avoid spatulas of ferromagnetic material which can cause scratches. Go for wooden spatulas. Make sure to buy a couple of them and keep them handy if you wish to cook multiple dishes at a time. This will prevent washing them repeatedly for other dishes.
Woks are a delight to use for some cuisines. They provide rapid and even heat distribution. When they are looked after properly, they can last for a lifetime.
Most of the Woks are dishwasher safe. They require seasoning only in case of cast iron bare metal and carbon steel. Enamelled woks, stainless steel woks, and non-stick woks do not require seasoning.
They can be easily washed in hot water and mild soap. For a large family, they are an absolute must to have. The quantity of food cooked on a wok surpasses cooking on a pan as there is more surface area hence more food.
Handles on one or both sides ensure good balance and control over cooking on induction. Most of the induction compatible woks are really good at maintaining the temperatures. The temperatures can be simmered and boiled with the help of an induction cooktop.
Finally, the wok is a masterpiece and the secret of good Chinese and Asian dishes (stir-fried, boiled, steamed, deep fry, broth) and there is no reason why a good induction compatible, flat bottomed wok cannot be used along with the most advanced technology of cooking food- on an induction. After taking into consideration all the tips stated here, cooking on wok on induction can be very successful.
Go ahead and savor the delicious wok cooked food!
You may also like the following articles about induction cookware: