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A wok ring is a piece of metal in the shape of a circle that is designed to fit on a stovetop and support a wok during cooking. Designs of traditional ovens used in Cantonese cooking consist mostly of an open flame over which a wok can be supported and used for cooking. Traditional woks, with a rounded bottom, work quite well on these types of stoves but are often difficult to use with a flat range or gas stovetop. A wok ring can be placed over a gas or electric range to support the round-bottom wok while keeping it close to the heat source.
The design of a wok ring is quite simple, and it allows traditional rounded woks to be used more easily on flat stovetops such as those found in the US. A wok is a large skillet often used in Chinese or Cantonese cooking, which has wide, deep sides and a rounded or flat bottom. Traditional woks have rounded bottoms that work well with the stoves often used in Cantonese cooking. These stoves typically have a large burner that consists of an open flame and a ring around it, which a wok can easily be placed on and used to cook.
A wok with a rounded bottom, however, does not work very well for cooking on a standard American stovetop. These often use gas or electricity to either heat a coil on a range or produce a flame with a support over it that flat-bottomed pots and skillets can be cooked on. In order to use a rounded wok on this type of flat cooking surface, a wok ring is typically used. The wok ring is made from a fairly sturdy metal material and can be placed over an electric range or around the flame of a gas range.
Cooks can then use the wok ring and the heat source within it to support a rounded wok and cook in a manner similar to traditional Cantonese methods. Some ovens and cook tops include coils or gas burner grills that are interchangeable, allowing a ring to be used instead of the flat surface. A wok ring is typically made slightly conical, rather than as a straight ring, so that it can be reversed with slightly different circumferences on each side. This allows a wide range of woks to be used on a single ring, and for a cook to be able to adjust how close to the heat the bottom of a wok reaches. Holes in a wok ring allow air to move through it, ensuring that heat is maintained.