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Caja China vs. Caja Asadora???

I'm trying to figure out if there's any huge difference between La Caja China and the cheaper La Caja Asadora (by Bene Casa). When comparing the largest Caja China to La Casa Asadora they seem comparable in size and components--each coming with the same components and accessories. La Caja Asadora is slightly shorter, but I don't see why that would make a difference. The only thing I can find that *might* make a difference is what they're lined with. La Caja China is described as being lined with "Marine Aluminum Gauge .032" while sites describing La Caja Asadora say that it is lined with "galvanized metal" , "steel", or "stainless steel". Unfortunately, I don't have enough knowledge about metals to a) tell if those things are actually all the same or b) if it makes a difference if they're indeed different.

Any help anyone could give me would be much appreciated.

Thank you!

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  1. Okay. I've done a bit more research and now understand that aluminum is far more thermally conductive than steel. Knowing this, I'm wondering what people's thoughts are on how this affects things in a roasting box situation. Longer cooking time? More charcoal? Does any of this affect the final product? If so, in what way(s)?

    Looking forward to getting to the bottom of this and hopefully making the right purchase.

    Thanks again!

    6 Replies
    1. re: kristabat

      Check out this link:

      http://cuban-christmas.com/pigroast.html

      The Caja China is really nice if you do pig roasts regularly, but for most folks, it's at best once a year (actually like once or twice in a lifetime) so hard to justify cost and storage. But, it is also nice if you don't have the back yard that you tear up to build a makeshift pit like the "Three Brothers" do -- if that is your situation, see if you can rent one.

      It sounds like you have a fun occasion in mind -- best of luck (I bet it will be great no matter).

      1. re: kristabat

        Any word on this yet? I'm also interested. I'm worried, though about the use of galvanized metal... zinc would leach into anything touching it... so if the tray for the briquets is galvanized, OK... but if the inside... well... it would make the drippings toxic.

        As far as aluminum vs steel on the inside... for the length of time you'll be cooking in it, i don't think thermal conductivity will make that big of a difference. After 2 hours, both will be fabulously hot.

        1. re: themeatking

          did anyone make a final determination on the galvanized metal vs aluminum box? we received a Caja Asadora for Christmas, my mom thought it was the same as Caja China, but we want to use the safest box for cooking the meat in terms of toxic metal.

          1. re: terryberry

            Never use galvanized metal for cooking or heating. It will give off zinc oxide fumes, a white smoke that is toxic to you and your food when heated. Also will leach zinc chloride when acids from your foods to make a nice toxic cocktail. Use only stainless steel, black steel, or aluminum. Also another name for a La Caja China (the china box) is a Cajun Microwave.

            1. re: yakitat jack

              The truth is that both the La Caja China and La Caja Asadora come in galvanized, and have for many years. The reason is because the boxes had to be cleared to be used in this style of cooking before they could go on the market. I doubt seriously these boxes would still be out there after all these years if they were toxic. One could argue that the aluminum has its benefits, but paying almost double seems a bit much for what those benefits may be. The boxes come in the same size, have the same components, and cook in the same way. For my money, I'll take the Caja Asadora and use the $150 saving on the accessories!

          2. re: themeatking

            Yes, you are right. Do not put high heat on galvanized (zinc coated) metal. Bad bad fumes.

        2. I have the La Caja China and it is very well built. They use very good quality materials, and it is well crafted and goes together quite easily. The lining is a nice aluminum. It's purpose is to reflect the heat back to the pig inside the box, and works perfectly. I only use it 1-3 times a year, but it is always a show stopper!

          2 Replies
          1. re: mattrapp

            Where can I get a Caja China? Is it possible to buy one locally? (in Los Angeles)

            1. re: Drehound

              I think they are only available from La Caja China in Florida. They ship by UPS and it only takes a short time to assemble it.

          2. My friend Yim bought a Caja Asadora and we had it togethor in about 15 minutes. It is made cheaply out of galvanized steel and is somewhat unstable. The charcoal grate and the "pig grate" broke at the welds before we even started using it. We rigged it temporariliy with some stainless wire. We cooked our first pig on it and it turned out great. When cleaning it out I noticed the galvanized metal started to peel off on the drip tray.

            My recommendation is to buy the original Caja China or the Cajun Microwave brand which both look better quality but are more expensive. If you are handy build your own. If you are careful the Asadora will work fine but expect it not to hold up and have plenty of

            1. I bought the Caja Asadora about a year ago and it works great. I had the Caja China previously. I simply can't justify spending the additional $120-$150 for the same thing. I only wish I bought the Caja Asadora earlier.

              1. I use a cajun microwave, which is basically the same as the Caja China, it is lined with stainless steel. http://www.cajunmicrowaves.com/

                1. Having owned both, here's what I can tell you...the biggest difference between these boxes is the price. Plain and simple. If I had my two boxes beside each other, the only way I would be able to tell them apart was by the logo's on the side. They both come in the 48" x 24" x 20" size and have all the same components (charcoal grid, stainless steel racks, drip pan, wheels, and long handles, etc.) My La Caja Asadora actually came with mitts and a syringe, which I didn't get with my La Caja China. Both units took about the same amount of time to cook, and the cooking process was exactly the same. I bought covers for them and made sure to keep them clean and dry, so they both lasted quite a while. The day I'm ready to replace my Caja Asadora, I'll be buying another one and saving the extra money, no doubt about it.

                  1. I've gotten gloves and syringes with all three of my La Caja China boxes. Does the Caja Asadora have a website? I know the LCC does, and has tons of accessories, recipes, cooking charts & tips, etc. They also have regular contests, chats, and giveaways on their Facebook page.

                    How's the customer service with Caja Asadora? My first call to LCC was answered by the owner of the company, and he stayed on the phone with me until all of my questions were answered.

                    Disclosure: I wrote a cookbook, "La Caja China Cooking" that can (and is) used with both boxes, but my experience with La Caja China keeps my loyalty with them.

                    BTW - Caja Asadora charges $29.95 for my (paperback) cookbook, LCC charges $14.95.

                    -Perry

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: pperkins

                      Gotta say, when I called to order my Caja Asadora over the phone I got the owner as well. He answered all my questions and directed me to their blog and Facebook page as well. The website is http://www.shoplatintouch.com. We emailed him some pictures of our last roast for the blog. I saw the cookbook on the site, and it's actually $19.95. Hope that helps!

                    2. Wow, read about these contraptions years ago...never knew people really found them useful

                      1. you use do la caja china many many times not just for pork but for anything else, corn, ribs, chicken, turkey, vegetables, clams, etc. if you buy the world book or la caja china cooking book you can see many recipes to make. Doing it correctly you will always have an amazing tasty enjoyable meal! Also, la caja china will last a loooot longer than la any other roasting box if taken care of properly, la caja china might be the most expensive but it the first ever made roasting box, the origal, and the best by far! (It has the best wood picked out by themselves and the best materials).

                        1. Ok, so lets put some facts out there:

                          The majority of Caja China owners have the 100 lb capacity models vs the 70 lb models as the price difference is only $30, so we'll cover the 100 lb models:

                          La Caja China -

                          Dimensions: 48 x 24 x 24"
                          Exterior: Wood
                          Interior lining: Aluminum
                          Includes: Charcoal Pan & Grid, Grease Pan, 2 Steel Racks, 4 Steel S Hooks, Wheels, Handles, Marinating Syringe
                          Price: $349

                          La Caja Asadora -

                          Dimensions: 48 x 24 x 24"
                          Exterior: Wood
                          Interior Lining: Aluminum
                          Includes: Charcoal Pan & Grid, Grease Pan, 2 Steel Racks, 4 Steel S Hooks, Wheels, Handles, Marinating Syringe
                          Price: $259

                          All the parts and accessories for these models are interchangeable.

                          As you can see, basically no difference here to speak of.

                          Also, the Asadora now comes in a 100 lb steel exterior model for $499 (about $575 with shipping.) The La Caja China steel exterior models currently on the market start at $899. Both units include the same components and roasting capacity outlined above.

                          As a retailer of both brands, I can say the 100 lb Asadora models are our best sellers by a good margin, and the percentages are even higher when folks are able to see both models built side by side. If you specifically need the smaller model, the aluminum lined La Caja China is preferable, but costs $100 more. For the 100 lb models, both wood and steel exterior, the Caja Asadora provides the better value without sacrificing functionality.

                          So there we have it guys. Hope this helps.