You got your new wok burner and want to impress your family with a perfect stir fried Thai fried rice. I use my wok burner at least once a week and always take the necessary steps to get the results I want. If you want to save some time or are just wondering how to start stir frying with your wok burner, here are the guidelines for using and setting up wok burner to master stir fry at home:
- #1 set up your wok burner
- #2 safety first
- #3 wok and ingredient preparation
- #4 control the heat
- #5 clean the wok and reseason it
How to use wok burner
How to check if you wok burner is safe to use – safety precautions
Check the wok burner set up installation
Wok burner is a powerful tool that produces tons of heat using propane gas. Since you are dealing with gas that is delivered into wok burner under high pressure, it is crucial to check your wok burner installation before you use it.
There is an easy method to check if you installed your wok burner correctly. Take a spray bottle and fill it up with water and sope. Spray all the necessary connections with this mix:
- Connection between propane gas tank and high pressure regulator
- Connection on the high pressure regulator and the hose
- Connection between the hose and wok burner
After you spray the connection, check if any air bubbles appear. If there are air bubbles, recheck the connection and fix the problem. If there are no air bubbles, the last thing you need to do is to check the line between the regulator and the wok burner. If you see any cracks or splits, replace the line with a new one.
Work with wok burner at a safe distance
Wok burners tend to produce tons of heat and deliver very high flames. When you work with your assembled wok burner, it is important not to lean over it as the flames might burn you.
The best wok burners also have safety shields. The safety shield is perfectly positioned on the top three wok burners, which you can check in our 11 Best Wok Burners For Outdoors With High BTU, Buying Guide review blog post.
This shield is essential when you put the wok on a wok burner. When you turn maximum heat on your wok burner, the flames will burn your hand if it wasn’t for this shield. That is why it is always best to use heat resistant gloves like these if your wok burner doesn’t have a protective shield.
How to control the heat in your high pressure wok burner
If you want to learn how to work with wok burner you will have to learn how to control the heat and the flame. The flame and the heat can be adjusted in three different ways. You can use a gas knob or valve on your wok burner, the next thing is the PSI regulator, and the third thing is the air damper.
How to control the wok burner flame and heat with a high pressure regulator
The high pressure regulator installed on the propane gas tank regulates the pressure and fuel amount that is coming into the wok burner. Before you start to control the regulator’s pressure, fully open your wok burners’ main valve.
If you are new to cooking in a wok and never used wok burner, I suggest you back off the regulator’s pressure. This way, you will get lower flames on the wok burner, and the heat won’t be that intense.
If you are starting just out, the importance of lower pressure is that you will have more maneuvering space when you make your wok dish. When you become more comfortable with the heat, raise the pressure.
How to control the wok burner flame and heat with the air damper
The damper is a regulator for air. It is usually located underneath the wok burner or in front of it for easy access. With it, you can regulate how much air is mixed together with the gas. The more air you mix with the propane gas, the clearer and hotter flame you will have.
With a high pressure propane wok burner, you aim to get a blue-colored flame, which is very hot. You can get this blue flame by opening the washer to the point where clear blue flames appear on your wok burner.
How to control the wok burner flame and heat with a gas knob or gas valve
A gas knob or valve is the thing you will use the most. After you adjusted the pressure and the airflow, you will control your flame with a gas knob or valve.
The regulation is straightforward. You open the valve to deliver more gas and with it achieving higher flames. You close the valve to lower the flames.
If you are not yet confident using the wok burner, this regulation is significant when you add ingredients to your wok. It would be best to lower the heat and the flame, so your food doesn’t burn. When you want to stir fry and toss food in the wok, you should turn the valve entirely to get as intense flames as possible.
What to do before you start using the wok burner
Before you start using your high pressure wok burner, you will need to have everything ready. When you start with your stir fry, there won’t be any time to make adjustments or run into the kitchen for some ingredients.
The first thing you need to do is to prepare your carbon steel wok. If you don’t know how to choose the right carbon steel wok to use on your wok burner, check out my post Best Carbon Steel Wok, How To Tell If Wok Is Carbon Steel.
Before you start stir frying, your wok must be clean and hot. Your carbon steel wok should also be well seasoned when you are ready to go. If you haven’t used it for some time, put it on a wok burner and heat it. Drizzle in some vegetable oil, heat the oil to smoking point and wipe the whole inner side of wok entirely with a paper towel.
Prepare your ingredients
Why is ingredient preparation important? When turning the heat on your wok burner, you won’t have time to prepare the ingredients. The process of stir frying in a wok is rapid, which means that cutting carrots while your wok is full of power is out of the question.
That is why the mise en place is crucial. Prepare all your ingredients, solids, and liquids into separate cups and bowls and place them right next to your wok burner. This way, you will quickly grab the ingredient you need and put it in a blazing hot wok.
How to use wok burner for the best results
You should always start with a hot wok. Turn your wok burner on to full power and bring it to smoking point. Drizzle in some oil and then immediately begin to stir fry.
It is best to use high heat almost all of the time if you want to get the best results with your wok burner. You only lower the heat when you add ingredients to the wok; otherwise, keep it blazing hot.
The easiest way to stir fry in a wok is to toss the wok. Tossing a wok is a technique that you must learn to achieve a great result. Tossing will keep your food from burning. Even if you use a spatula or ladle specially designed for wok, you won’t be fast enough to turn your food. That is why tossing is essential.
The difference between a good stir fry and bad stir fry is minimal. Good stir fry is made quickly, and the vegetables are still crunchy when you eat them. To achieve these, it is best if you make small portions of food in one batch. Making stir fry for one to two persons in one batch is perfect.
If you are making stir fry for the whole family, you need to stir fry the ingredients in batches. Working in batches will not give you as good results as if you would make stir fry for one person, but it is the best way to do it.
What to do after you are done using your wok burner
After you are done making your stir fry, it is time to clean up everything and prepare your wok burner for the next use.
Cleaning the wok is very easy. Place your wok with burned food or wok that is just dirty from food on your wok burner. Turn the wok burner on and heat the wok to smoking point. After it is hot enough, place it in a sink, pour water into the wok, and clean it with a metal scouring pad. Repeat the process of reheating on a wok burner if needed.
After you are done cleaning, take some oil and apply it on a wok to reseason the wok. If you want to know in more detail about how to reseason a wok or how to clean carbon steel wok with burned food, check out my post on How To Clean A Carbon Steel Wok With Burnt Food.
How to turn off your wok burner the right way
The best way to turn off your wok burner is to close the main valve on the propane gas tank first. Leave the wok burner on and close the main valve.
You will see the flame on your wok burner, slowly starting to decrease. When the flames are gone, you are ready to turn off the valve or knob on your wok burner.
If you use this method, you will empty the gas in the main line completely. The line won’t be under pressure the whole time before you use the wok burner again. This way, you can extend the life of your wok burner installation and ensure no gas can leak through the installation when your wok burner is not in use.
How to set up high pressure wok burner with high BTU
Setting up your wok burner is relatively easy. There are plenty of wok burners on the market, but if you are having trouble finding the best one, here is the list of the 11 best wok burners for outdoor cooking. The set up for most of high pressure wok burners is somewhat the same. Some even come pre-assembled, so no set up is required.
If you get a high pressure propane wok burner, it is essential to know that wok burners produce a lot of heat and usually have 50000 to 200000 BTU. To get the best results and make full use of this power, you must choose the right high PSI regulator. The best regulators for your high pressure wok burner to make the job right should have a 0-60psi (0-4bar) like this one with at least 4 foot (1,2m) hose. You can also use a regulator with a pressure gauge like this one on the picture:
0-60 psi regulator for wok burner without pressure gauge
To set up your wok burner, you don’t need any special skill; instead, you need just a few basic tools like a craftsman adjustable wrench, a screwdriver, and a few minutes to do it. But in most cases, you don’t need any tools.
How to set up wok burners high pressure regulator and hose
The first thing you need to do is to hook the regulator to the propane tank. Hand tightens it, then take a craftsman adjustable wrench like this one and slightly tighten it. Because you are connecting brass metal to brass metal, you don’t need to over crank it as brass metal is soft.
The next thing you need to do is take the other end of the hose and connect it to the burner. If you have brass fighting on the burner end and one at the end of the hose, just slightly tighten it with your hand and finish it with a wrench.
If you are using a high pressure rubber hose that doesn’t include brass fittings on both ends, you need to do the following on the regulator and the wok burner. Take the rubber hose and before you put it on a brass fitting of the regulator or wok burner, put on two hose clamps like this one, for both sides. When you place the hose on the regulator, tighten the clamps on both ends.
If you have a rubber line that won’t fit or is just a little too small, just put the rubber line ends in very hot water for a few seconds to soften the rubber. Then immediately after you took it out of the water, put it on the regulator and the wok burner, so it doesn’t cool off. This way, you will easily put the rubber hose on the brass fitting without damaging it.
Releasing propane into the wok burner
First, make sure the main valve on your wok burner is closed. If your wok burner has a pilot valve, make sure that it is also closed.
Next, open up the main valve on the propane tank to put the line under pressure. Before you light up the wok burner, check for the gas leakage.
Suppose your wok burner has a pilot valve, first light the pilot light. The pilot light should be open just a little, and you don’t want to hear gas blasting out of the pilot light. When you lighten the pilot light, only then open the main wok burner valve.
If your wok burner doesn’t include a pilot light, turn on the gas knob to release the gas into the wok burner and light it.
If you don’t have a gas knob, you will only need to open the main valve on the propane gas tank. When you hear the gas coming from the wok burner, light it.
Wok burner generates tons of heat wich is perfect for making stir fry. You will be able to regulate this heat safely and efficiently with the right wok burner setting and proper use. Once you get the hang of the heat that comes out of wok burner you will be able to master stir fry, but until then some food will get burned and because of many tries your wok will be perfectly seasoned.