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Old 02-02-2013, 07:17 PM   #1
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Question Which cookware to buy for stir frying?

So, I am looking to replace a nonstick pan, which I have introduced many small scratches into.

Doing some online research, I have decided to go with stainless steel because it should last me a lifetime and I do not want the health risks of nonstick. I also want to buy on Amazon, so that I can see the reviews.

What type of cookware should I get (pan, skillet, wok)? Currently, I own two stainless steel pots (one big, one small). Also, I primarily have been using my nonstick pan for Pad Thai, stir frying vegetables, and fried egg. Then again, I am still a 1-2 years cooking newbie, so I am sure there are many recipes to come in future (you guys would have a better sense of this ).
Also, it would be nice if it works in the oven and I want it to fit my electric stove, which has the largest burner being 7 inches in diameter.

Also, I am ready to spend good money, as I value quality and hope to have this last me for a lifetime!

PS: If you have any specific Amazon recommendations, please do post the link.

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Old 02-03-2013, 12:24 AM   #2
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I do not have an Amazon recommendation because they compete with me after I post products on their site. But I do have stainless steel recommendations. The best that I have found is a German product from Fissler with a close second being products from BergHoff - both leaders in Europe but not so well know in the US. If these are not to your liking, I can provide some recommendations for better know brands in the US.
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Old 02-03-2013, 12:27 AM   #3
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I you are looking for a pan particularly suited for stir-fry, then you should consider a wok. The shape if perfect for stir-fry. High heat can be concentrated on the bottom but diffuses quickly up the curved sides. This very well suited for the quick heat cooking of meats and vegetables.
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Old 02-03-2013, 08:54 AM   #4
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Most SS cookware is made from '18/10' SS. If you want to go 'all-in' buy a 'T304' SS wok. 'T304' SS is surgical steel and is as 'non-stick' as you can get in SS. Yes you will need to spend money but you get what you pay for right? The wok will need to be 'seasoned' once in a while but that's easy. Google up how/why to season SS pots/pans. Make sure you are buying 'T304' not 18/10. The price will tip you off.Fissler Original Pro Wok with Stainless Steel Lid 30 cm - £219.00 : Salamander Cookshop UK
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Old 02-03-2013, 10:26 AM   #5
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Okay, so it looks like a stainless steel wok is what I should get.

I was thinking $150 max when I meant spending good money :D, but let me think about it some more.

Will I need to season the wok regardless of whether it is T304 and 18/10?

Also, more thoughts from anybody is appreciated before I make this big investment!
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Old 02-03-2013, 10:37 AM   #6
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Okay, so it looks like a stainless steel wok is what I should get.

I was thinking $150 max when I meant spending good money :D, but let me think about it some more.

Will I need to season the wok regardless of whether it is T304 and 18/10?

Also, more thoughts from anybody is appreciated before I make this big investment!
Many people who buy/have SS cookware assume b/c it's 'shiny' it ought to be somewhat non-stick. '18/10' is a combination of metals that even though look nice and shiny actually have zillions of microscopic craters on the surface. When the pan is heated the metal expands making these craters even bigger/deeper. That's were the food particles go. Seasoning with salt and oil fills up the craters so no food can get in. 'T304' ss surgical pans have much much smaller craters. I have two of them and when I season my '18/10' pots/pans about three times a year I do the 'T304' ones at the same time. I never use soap on them. Just warm water and a wipe out. Never any sticking problems. Buy a 'T304' wok and you will smile every time you use it. Guaranteed.
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Old 02-03-2013, 10:41 AM   #7
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Here ya go, Art.
Thirty bucks and you won't need to worry about cleaning it like your SS pot thread, it will simply become "seasoned".
Amazon.com: Wok Shop's 16 in Carbon Steel Pow Wok (hand hammered) w/ Wood Handle: Kitchen & Dining
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Old 02-03-2013, 10:50 AM   #8
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Carbon steel woks are where it's at.
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Old 02-03-2013, 11:00 AM   #9
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Go to Cost Plus World Market. You can get a carbon steel (best material for a wok) for less than 15 bucks American that will serve you, your children, and your grandchildren successfully. Stainless steel is not a good material for a wok. A wok with a non-stick coating is also unacceptable.

You can get a cast iron wok at Amazon.com for a decent price, and I understand they work wonderfully, but I have never seen one in a brick and mortar store so I can't make any recommendations there.

So, in the words of Frankie Valli, "wok like a man", and as Rufus Thomas once said, "If you don't know how to do it, let me show you how to wok the dog."
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Old 02-03-2013, 11:24 AM   #10
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I think the carbon steel wok for stir-frying is a good idea. I would also suggest getting a good SS saute pan for general cooking. I use my 3-quart Calphalon saute pan all the time for searing, roasting, sauteeing, making sauces, etc. You can even stir-fry in it, although some would not consider that "authentic." I don't care - it works and it's darn tasty and that's the point for me

Calphalon Contemporary Stainless 3-Quart Sauté Pan with Glass Lid
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Old 02-03-2013, 12:20 PM   #11
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Or you could get one of these.
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Old 02-03-2013, 01:21 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by puffin3 View Post
Or you could get one of these.
Something's missing from your post, Puff.
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Old 02-03-2013, 01:47 PM   #13
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Carbon Steel is the perfect medium for a Wok. It is what is used in those countries that use woks on a daily basis. Anything more is overdoing it and just so you can say "I spent lots of money on this wok." You don't want a status symbol, you want something to stir fry in for all the years to come.
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Old 02-03-2013, 02:27 PM   #14
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Carbon Steel is the perfect medium for a Wok. It is what is used in those countries that use woks on a daily basis. Anything more is overdoing it and just so you can say "I spent lots of money on this wok." You don't want a status symbol, you want something to stir fry in for all the years to come.
I agree. A good old carbon steel wok is used around the world. Picture this though. Millions of poor people cooking their food do not have the luxury of having thousands of BTU's like say Chinese restaurants do. The old grandmother must nurse a tiny fire made from dried pig dung and straw all day to cook the rice etc. Carbon steel woks on electric burners even with 'rings' never get hot enough to actually 'stir fry' in the classic sense. These woks dissipate heat almost as fast as they absorb it. That's why the average 'western' cook who wants to cook chinese food seldom ends up with a great result.
A SS wok is thicker and will hold more heat better/longer. Still not enough heat but better than a carbon steel wok.
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Old 02-03-2013, 02:38 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by puffin3 View Post
I agree. A good old carbon steel wok is used around the world. Picture this though. Millions of poor people cooking their food do not have the luxury of having thousands of BTU's like say Chinese restaurants do. The old grandmother must nurse a tiny fire made from dried pig dung and straw all day to cook the rice etc. Carbon steel woks on electric burners even with 'rings' never get hot enough to actually 'stir fry' in the classic sense. These woks dissipate heat almost as fast as they absorb it. That's why the average 'western' cook who wants to cook chinese food seldom ends up with a great result.
A SS wok is thicker and will hold more heat better/longer. Still not enough heat but better than a carbon steel wok.
Over the gas flame on my stove, my carbon-steel wok gets hot enough to ignite cooking oil. And the years of seasoning still smoke up a storm so that I have to open windows. If that isn't hot enough, then only a blow torch will do.

And about stir-frying, only the bottom of the wok needs to be super hot. The food is lifted to the cooler sides to prevent it from scorching while more ingredients are added to the dish. Finally, everything is pushed together to combine the foods, sauce, and seasonings.

I really don't see the purpose of non-stick, stainless steel, or cast iron woks. I know people use them. But it is my humble opinion that they've over-though the matter. Again, please don't take offense. This is only my opinion. If you get the results you want with a SS Wok, then by all means, use it. Just don't say that it's the only answer.

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Old 02-03-2013, 04:14 PM   #16
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I have SS and carbon steel woks but the light weight cast iron is my favorite. It stays seasoned with very little effort. It is not one of the American made heavy woks it only weighs a few ounces.

For choosing a wok I highly recommend reading this: Wok - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This is the one I have: Amazon.com: 16 inch Traditional Cast Iron Wok: Kitchen & Dining
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Old 02-03-2013, 04:18 PM   #17
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Over the gas flame on my stove, my carbon-steel wok gets hot enough to ignite cooking oil. And the years of seasoning still smoke up a storm so that I have to open windows. If that isn't hot enough, then only a blow torch will do.

And about stir-frying, only the bottom of the wok needs to be super hot. The food is lifted to the cooler sides to prevent it from scorching while more ingredients are added to the dish. Finally, everything is pushed together to combine the foods, sauce, and seasonings.

I really don't see the purpose of non-stick, stainless steel, or cast iron woks. I know people use them. But it is my humble opinion that they've over-though the matter. Again, please don't take offense. This is only my opinion. If you get the results you want with a SS Wok, then by all means, use it. Just don't say that it's the only answer.

Seeeeeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North
I'm a 'failed' chinese food cook. I love chinese food and it's stumped me all my life. I've probably had five or six carbon steel woks over the years and I can't ever get anything to cook like I used to watch the line cooks at Don Mee's cook in their woks. They had some sort of foot peddle on the floor they could press and the natural gas/propane would ignite and within a few seconds the wok would be close to turning red. I get your point about the temperature on the bottom etc but explain why those line cooks used such screaming hot woks if ordinary stove top heat works just as well. With respect.
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Old 02-03-2013, 04:24 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by puffin3 View Post
I agree. A good old carbon steel wok is used around the world. Picture this though. Millions of poor people cooking their food do not have the luxury of having thousands of BTU's like say Chinese restaurants do. The old grandmother must nurse a tiny fire made from dried pig dung and straw all day to cook the rice etc. Carbon steel woks on electric burners even with 'rings' never get hot enough to actually 'stir fry' in the classic sense. These woks dissipate heat almost as fast as they absorb it. That's why the average 'western' cook who wants to cook chinese food seldom ends up with a great result.
A SS wok is thicker and will hold more heat better/longer. Still not enough heat but better than a carbon steel wok.
The number one reason for stir frying fails is over loading the pan. Even on a cheap electric burner if people would cook smaller amounts they can achieve good results.
Heat the pan
add a small amount of meat (I normally use 8 to 10oz) brown and remove meat
let the pan get hot again
Add veggies when they are almost done remove them
add sauce bring to a rapid boil
add veggies and return to a rapid boil
add meat and if needed thickening slurry
mix and when thick serve.
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Old 02-03-2013, 04:31 PM   #19
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I'm a 'failed' chinese food cook. I love chinese food and it's stumped me all my life. I've probably had five or six carbon steel woks over the years and I can't ever get anything to cook like I used to watch the line cooks at Don Mee's cook in their woks. They had some sort of foot peddle on the floor they could press and the natural gas/propane would ignite and within a few seconds the wok would be close to turning red. I get your point about the temperature on the bottom etc but explain why those line cooks used such screaming hot woks if ordinary stove top heat works just as well. With respect.
For line cooks it is about production. They use the high heat mode for response time. Put a cold wok on the stove hit the peddle in 3 to 5 seconds the wok is hot. For me at home this takes almost 2 minutes. Since they have extra heat when they add things they do not have to remove what is in the wok another time saver for them. If they are going to add something they hit the peddle, add and the wok come back to temp in seconds. A dish that takes me 10 minutes to cook from the time I turn on the flame takes them 3 or 4.

Also they can cook family sized portions. I am limited to 8 to 10 oz of meat.

This is a good example of recipes I make. Chicken with Broccoli Recipe
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Old 02-03-2013, 07:48 PM   #20
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I'm really surprised there were no replies referencing electric woks. This is another option to consider before making your choice. We had a thread about this a while back too.

Amazon.com: Breville BEW600XL Hot Wok: Home & Kitchen

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