light metal comal (steel?)
- dani_k Sep 12, 2008 04:16 PM
i picked up a super cheap comal at a little mexican store in central washington. forgot to ask what kind of metal it was made out of. too heavy to be aluminum. coated in something black (inside and outside). any ideas? i'm guessing steel, but the black coating throws me. don't figure it's a non-stick coating, as it's on the bottom of the pan as well.
also, tips on care and whatnot? everything i can find is talking about cast iron and clay comals.
I have a couple of comales, a 13" and and 11"; both in the $10 range. Flat with a shallow angled rim, with a small loop handle.
I don't recall what the label was, probably something like 'acero' (steel). They are carbon steel, the same thing a basic wok is made from. They are a dark gray color, though I wouldn't describe it as a 'black coating'.
They take seasoning in the same way as woks, cast iron, and French crepe pans.
For toasting chiles they don't need any treatment. If they get hot enough, any seasoning tends to burn off, leaving a lighter gray steel. For warming tortillas seasoning is nice, but can get uneven.
I've also used them for grilling steaks, and now mostly use the largest as a pizza pan. Uses like this seem to enhance the seasoning. The main thing is keep it dry so it does not rust.
A possible problem, for your purposes is, that the handle is rudimentary. It's nice for hanging the pan after use, but not good for lifting the hot pan. When I make omelets I tilt the pan the spread the egg, and then to roll and flip the omelet out. That would hard to do with a comal.
Also the ones I have warp over the uneven heat of an electric stove. In contrast my French crepe pan is thicker, and stays perfectly flat.
thanks for your reply! this is definitely black, not dark grey. and by coating... in transit home, it got scratched to reveal a light metal grey underneath. so it's not the color of the actual material. its kinda weird.
when i first picked it up, i thought it was a non-stick coating until i realized that it covered the entire pan - including the outside. and it's smooth, like enamel. there was nothing to indicate what it was made of. the brand was "campeon."
i have a carbon steel wok, and a handful of cast iron pans (all of which i have seasoned myself) - and this is entirely different than either. i wonder if its steel with some sort of factory seasoning....
anyway, its 11", with a small loop handle.
This is what I have:
Comal de Fierro Redondo
I have seen, at Cost Plus importers, a shallow aluminum gridle with a nonstick coating on the inside But that is quite different in density and thickness.
The Spanish Table recommends boiling water in their carbon steel paella pans to remove oil, dirt, and label glue. Then season it in the oven. The ones they sell have a relatively shiny steel gray finish, but I have seen carbon steel with a much darker finish.
I would stay away from the aluminum ones, mine warped (severely) after only a couple of uses and a friend of mine also had the same problem with her new aluminum comal? By the way NOTHING beats an honest well seasoned carbon steel wok for cooking Asian recipes! The aluminum woks with the non-stick coating don't last long and get burned easily when used with a gas flame on the stovetop (went through 3 of them) before I got a genuine carbon steel one! Mine is a hand hammered carbon steel wok made in Thailand which is really a joy to cook with!
I am pretty sure that the comal you purchased at the Mexican store is carbon steel. I have several carbon steel comals (two 11") which I purchased at a little store here in my neighborhood which specializes in Mexican food and other items. I also bought one of my comals (8") in Mexico when I was living there and it's the only one I use for corn tortillas. I have another one made out of aluminum (11") and a cast iron one (10" diameter). I don't care for the aluminum one, it heats up quicker than either the cast iron or carbon steel comals, but it warped after 3 uses! The cast iron works great, just keep it seasoned and dry. The carbon steel ones also work great, I seasoned the non-coated ones like I did the cast iron and they haven't warped on me or had any issue. I have one carbon steel comal with a non-stick coating and haven't needed to season it thus far. I like the carbon steel cause it heats up a bit quicker than the cast iron and it's much lighter, though heavier than the aluminum. Hope this helps, Adios!