You know you are a proper grownup when you get around to buying woks, tajines, smokers, and all other specialized cooking equipment.
Now, a wok is an awesome multitasker, but they are one of the most misused cooking vessels in our kitchens. Not to mention that the contemporary stovetops are not able to accommodate a wok properly.
Enter, wok rings. Look, if you want to use a wok in an indoor kitchen (ask anyone of Asian descent what an outdoor kitchen is) you will need it. So, today we will talk about how to use a wok ring, which one is best suited for your hob, and do you need one in the first place. Let’s get to it.
How does wok ring work?
A wok ring is meant to mimic the way a wok fits into a traditional fire stove. They are also supposed to support a round-bottom wok so it doesn’t lean over.
Some models simply sit on top of the stove or hob, while others click into place. Most of them are not designed to work with flat-bottomed woks, at least not the ones with bottoms that are bigger than 4 inches.
The best wok ring will fit securely over the hob and will not move around when you cook. It should not impede your movements in any way, and it should be made out of materials that can stand impact and high heat (steel or iron).
Which way does a wok ring go?
There are two types of wok rings, one-sided and double-sided. One-sided ones are usually made from cast iron and are meant for use on a gas stove. They have slots that are meant to fit over the stove’s rack, so they are your cues on which way goes down.
Double-sided rings look pretty much the same on both sides, with one important difference. One side always has a smaller diameter than the other. There is no “wrong side” that always has to go down. You can simply pick which one fits your wok better.
There are also designer wok rings, like the one that Electrolux released to match their induction cookware collection. That one also happens to be double-sided, but in other cases, you will have to take cues from the manufacturers’ promo pics.
How do you use a wok ring on an electric stove?
Warning: using a wok ring on a glass top stove may lead to scratches. This is why I wouldn’t recommend using a round-bottom wok and a wok ring on that type of stove.
The older models? Just get the right type of wok ring. I have a few suggestions below, and the third one will be perfect for this application.
When using it, combine it with a hob that is slightly smaller than the ring. That way, the high sides hold onto the wok, while the bottom of the wok stays in contact with the hob.
But, please note that the classic electric stove is made to work with flat-bottomed cookware and it will always work better with woks that have a wide and flat bottom. And for those, you don’t need a ring except if using it as an insurance policy.
How do you use a wok ring on an induction stove?
I borrowed that beautiful Electrolux wok and wok ring set from a friend for this piece, and all I have to tell you is… you don’t.
Unless it’s one of those concave hobs, induction and woks don’t make a great match. I tested the same wok on induction and on the gas stove, as well as other woks I could steal from other kitchens. The results are in, and the induction is not the best suited for woks.
Don’t bother and simply get a good saute pan for your stir-frys.
How do you use a wok ring on a gas stove?
Now, it’s time to have some fun. Gas stoves are perfect for woks and you can go and pick up any model that takes your fancy.
Start by getting a correct wok ring. The universal stainless steel one will work fine, but it’s better to pick up one that’s made from cast iron (a couple of examples below). These rings usually don’t require you to remove the existing rack and you can simply place them on top.
Install the ring before turning the hob on. Make sure it slides into place and doesn’t move. Take the wok and move it as if tossing the food inside to make sure that it won’t fall off. Turn up the heat and follow the recipe as usual.
When you’re done cooking, don’t move the ring until it cools completely. You can keep it on the hob permanently, especially if you’re using a wok every day. Still, once a day, remove it and wipe the area to prevent any possible food and oil build-up.
To clean the wok ring, use the same tools, products, and methods that you would otherwise use to clean your stove.
Do I need a wok ring?
If you have a round-bottomed wok and you don’t have a traditional fire stove or a specialized wok hob, you need it. Even if the wok looks very conical (like the carbon steel one from deBuyer), you’ll still need a wok ring.
Here’s the thing, a wok is round because it’s supposed to distribute heat evenly and be energy-efficient over one of the most energy-inefficient heat sources, open flame. And that shape also allows you to move food easily when stir-frying. So, benefits all around, but that comes at a cost.
Even a classic gas stove is designed to hold flat-bottomed cookware. There are special wok hobs that you can get for your kitchen, but that’s not a purchase you have to make. Ergo, the wok ring.
Or, you can buy a flat-bottomed wok or a saute pan. You can even stir-fry in your favorite frying pan. You never have to feel like you have to deck out your kitchen like a professional one. After all, you are not a professional chef, nor are you running an authentic Asian restaurant. It’s far more important that you cook at home and love doing it, so leave nitpicking to the pros.
A round-bottomed wok will certainly give you better results when you’re making egg-fried rice or quick-cooking protein like shrimp. So, if you’re in search of perfection, getting a round-bottomed wok and a wok ring to use on a gas stove is the best you can get at home.
Best wok ring for gas stove
Does your stove or wok manufacturer offer a wok ring? If any of them does, that’s the best one you can use. If both of them do, pick the one offered by the stove people.
If they don’t, here are my favorites.
Top pick – Nazysap Wok Ring for Gas Stove
This is the most stable gas stove wok ring and it comes in bot four and five-claw versions. It fits great over both old-school and contemporary gas hobs.
Its unique design makes it very stable. Plus, those ridges make it so you can tilt the wok easily without losing control and slipping.
Runner up – K&H Gas Cooktop Black Cast Iron Wok Support Ring
This is a more familiar cast iron wok ring design, and its only fault is that it is not as stable as the previous one. It’s still going to work well and stay in place, it’s just that the top pick is just a bit better.
Though this one has an advantage when it comes to storage. You can keep it on a hood above the stove, and it will not bother you at all.
Best buy – New Star International NCWS9 Steel Wok Rack
This model is a bit more familiar, and a bit more versatile. It’s the type that you can use on different stoves and with different types of woks.
Its only downside is that it’s not as heavy-duty as the ones made from cast iron. Also, you may need to remove the rack from your gas stove before placing it on.
I think that the wok is wasted on electric and induction hobs. Sure, you can get specialized ones, but that’s a waste of money. Get a gas stove, even a portable one, and be done with it.
I have a modular cooktop situation going on at my place, but if I had to choose only one type of hob, I’d go for induction. That would make my wok useless. But, that’s fine.
If you have an induction, halogen, or classic electric top, you would do better if you get a flat-bottomed wok or a saute pan. They will both allow you to make awesome stir-frys, and they are designed to work on flat surfaces.
However, if you want to get the full benefits of cooking in a wok, you must get a round-bottom one. And that wok needs either open flame or a gas stove, full stop. Since your probably only option is a gas stove, you may also need a wok ring.
But that’s my opinion and at the end of the day, you are the head chef in your kitchen. Your kitchen, your rules. My job was to show you how to use a wok ring, and hopefully, you now know more about this cooking accessory.