Sunday, December 4, 2022

Having Fun With a Wok Stove

[FTC Standard Disclosure] We received no payment for this post. Any links that might earn us a commission are marked [Affiliate Link].

Have you ever cooked on a wok stove? I stumbled across this 13" clay stove on sale for like $20 at my local Asian supermarket and couldn't resist it. It sat in my garage for a while but I recently got the chance to play with it.

Clay stoves are ubiquitous across Asia. China has the wok stove, Thailand has the tao charcoal burner, Vietnam has the lo than, the Philippines has the ulingan or kalan de uling, and Japan has the hibachi and hotpot. I have zero experience with these but live-fire cooking is live-fire cooking, so let's play with this grill of sorts.

How It Works

This clay stove looks and functions a lot like the internal parts of a kamado grill, only smaller in size.

  • Hot coals go into the top part, resting on the ceramic grate with holes.
  • A cooking vessel (wok, pot, grate) rests on the three clay knobs.
  • The airflow is from a wide-open vent on the bottom.
  • So temperature control is basically a matter of the quantity of coal. More coals hotter, fewer coals cooler.
There is a removable section that theoretically lets you add coals. I've also seen cooks use this to insert pieces of wood to add smoke to the equation.

The ceramic fire grate is similar to the holes and placement of the cast-iron fire grate on Big Green Eggs.

As you can see, the firebox on a wok stove is small. The one on my 13" stove is barely 7.5" across. It is mostly ideal for short cooks like wok cooking or searing. Also, since the firebox is so small, it makes the most sense to have a larger fire going in a fire pit, barrel, or grill to supply the hot coals you need.

I built a medium fire in one of my Big Green Eggs and then transferred hot coals over as needed. I cooked the two stir-fried dishes on the first batch of coals and then replenished them before searing the steak.

Here is how much I put in for the stir-frying. It might not look like a lot of coals, but this was throwing off about 500-600°f.

Teriyaki Steak, Stir Fried Potatoes, and Pineapple Habanero Fried Rice

Since stir-frying and searing were the order of the day, I decided to grill a teriyaki steak and two stir-fried dishes. 

Stir-Fried Potatoes

I sliced peeled russet potatoes to 1/8th inch on a mandolin and tossed them in a mix of 2 Tbsp soy sauce, 1 teaspoon brown sugar, 1 teaspoon AP flower, and 1 teaspoon of sesame oil while I prepped everything else. 

I stir-fried the potatoes with a half cup of diced sweet onion and a quarter cup of red bell pepper until tender, about 10-12 minutes.

When done, I taste for seasoning and add soy sauce to taste.

Pineapple Habanero Fried Rice

This one is still a work in process. The concept is solid but the dish was too spicy for me. It has as much sting as eating a mouthful of yellowjackets. 

The flavor was tasty but it was overshadowed by the intense heat. I usually enjoy the sting of habanero but 1 and 1/2 of them were too much for this rice. I'll dial it back next time.

This little stove was completely adequate for the wok cooking. 

There is a difference between the wok stove and wok cooking on the grill. On the grill, the full wok is being heated from below uniformly. On the stove, the edges that extend beyond the stove edge aren't as hot. 

Teriyaki Steak

I started by dry-brining a Certified Angus Beef Brand sirloin steak with Lane's BBQ Q-nami for about 8-hours. 

To convert the wok stove into a sear station, I found that a Fishbones charcoal grate from Innovations by Chance fits perfectly on top of the wok stove. 

The Fishbones is a durable charcoal gate designed for kamado grills like the Big Green Egg and Kamado Joe. It also happens to be a fantastic sear grate.
[Fishbones charcoal grate:  Affiliate Link]

After cooking the potatoes and rice, the coals had died off a bit so I refreshed them with hot coals from the Big Green Egg.

After grilling both sides, in the last 2 minutes I brushed the steak with teriyaki sauce cut 3:1 with rice wine vinegar.

The steak was fantastic. I've eaten a lot more sirloin since the price has beef has skyrocketed and I've enjoyed so much that I expect to keep eating it when the price of beef goes back down.  Ha ha ha, yeah, I know the price isn't ever going back down, I just wanted to try saying it with a straight face. 

This was a splendid version of steak and potatoes.

This entire meal would have been fantastic but for the excessive heat of the stir-fried rice.

I had fun playing with the clay stove and I'm glad I picked it up. Did I need it? No, but do I need 15 other grills?  (That's rhetorical, of course.)

Snake River Farms

Snake River Farms has some holiday season promotions going on. They have free shipping going right now and 10% off all orders over $249. I'm not an affiliate seller and get nothing for this, just passing it on.

Gifting Promotion

Offer: Free Shipping on All Boxes + an Extra 10% Off orders of $249+


Dates Active: 12/5 - 12/8