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Cast Iron Novice Having Problem with Stir-Fry Rice Sticking

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EdinburghStu Feb 10, 2011 05:53 AM

Hello Chowhounders,

Partly because of enthusiastic users here I recently bought a Pre-seasoned Lodge Logic Cast Iron Skillet (seemed like the best option as antique Griswold / Wagner are very hard to come by in Scotland!). I added to the seasoning using flaxseed oil as per Cooks Illustrated / Sheryl Canter. The pan was nicely seasoned, such that I was able to fry eggs, omelettes and pancakes with no sticking.

The problem came when I tried to stir fry. Doing vegetables seemed to be ok, though it did leave a slightly gummy residue in the pan. When I added cooked rice it all stuck horribly to the pan and took the seasoning with it when I (as gently as I could) cleaned up. I built up the seasoning again and then did a stir fry with rice noodles and the same thing happened. I was using a very high heat and was keeping things moving with a metal spatula. I’ve only ever cooked stir fry rice in non-stick before but have gone off non-stick and thought I was getting something better with a CI skillet.

I know that a wok would be a better shape for stir fry but I don’t do it very often so am happy to manage with a skillet. But as woks were traditionally made out of cast iron then it must be possible to cook rice on seasoned CI without sticking?! Am I doing something wrong? Is freshly cooked rice too wet to stir fry on cast iron? I’m nervous of trying it again as it’s pretty tedious to keep having to re-season it. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

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  1. SanityRemoved RE: EdinburghStu Feb 10, 2011 06:10 AM

    If the heat is too high you may be burning off the seasoning and the starch in the rice is acting like a binder for the seasoning. You didn't mention whether or not you are using oil in the pan first. I might have to look to see if I have any rice and try this out.

    Edit: No rice to try.

    1. Chemicalkinetics RE: EdinburghStu Feb 10, 2011 06:35 AM

      I think there are several issues. Traditionally, a wok is better as you said. The reason is that a wok allows you to constantly toss the rice which is a bit faster and more uniform than moving the rice with a spatula. You can randomize the rice is less than a second by tossing and there is no way you and I can do remotely close using a spatula. Not only a Lodge cast iron skillet is not the ideal shape, it is not the ideal weight.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nn2PJ9...

      I know Sheryl Canter seasoning approach. WIthout going into details, it is meant for fried an egg or two. It is not meant for stir-fry actions. It is not wrong. It is just not what it is meant for.

      I won't stir fry rice in a newly seasoned cast iron/carbon steel cookware. It is tougher than meats(aka protein). You need to build up a good seasoning surface for it. Yes, fresh rice is not ideal. Try to use cold rice from long grain rice like jasmine rice. I also add a small amount of oil into the rice and mix them. This is on top of adding oil to the wok. You have asked a very deep question which there is no short answer to. There are many wok posts on CHOWHOUNDS. Take a look and see if any help.

      1. paulj RE: EdinburghStu Feb 10, 2011 07:58 AM

        Fried rice is up there with slow cooked scrambled eggs when it comes to sticking.

        It's great that you have got the seasoning to the point that you can handle fried eggs and pancakes. But you are asking more of the seasoning than is reasonable at this point.

        1 Reply
        1. re: paulj
          Chemicalkinetics RE: paulj Feb 10, 2011 08:04 AM

          "Fried rice is up there with slow cooked scrambled eggs when it comes to sticking."

          Probably more difficult because fried rice can sticks very hard to the seasoning and can rip the seasoning off when trying to remove the rice (as the original poster have found out).

        2. e
          EdinburghStu RE: EdinburghStu Feb 17, 2011 05:19 AM

          Thanks everybody. I've found it reassuring to hear that this is one of the hardest things to cook on CI. I’d thought I must be doing something wrong.

          Chemicalkinetics – can I just clarify: you seem to be saying that it’s not just that it’s not seasoned sufficiently; but that the type of seasoning I’ve done is the wrong type of seasoning. Have I understood correctly? If so, I hadn’t realised that there were different types. Are you able to clarify / expand?

          Really appreciate the responses here!

          1 Reply
          1. re: EdinburghStu
            SanityRemoved RE: EdinburghStu Feb 17, 2011 06:15 AM

            You may have read this thread but it does give some perspective on what some others are experiencing with the Canter method.
            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/757023

            As others have pointed out most fried rice is done with cold day old rice which reduces the amount of moisture and stickiness. I'm also wondering if the rice could be dried in the skillet in the oven, removed from the skillet, the other ingredients cooked on the stove top and then rice added back in.

          2. Gio RE: EdinburghStu Feb 17, 2011 05:31 AM

            Usually fried rice is made with precooked Cold rice. Not freshly cooked and still warm. That may very well be your problem along with the skillet you're currently using. But try with cold rice.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Gio
              paulj RE: Gio Feb 17, 2011 08:03 AM

              Cold rice, especially the longer grain types, has a different texture than warm. It can be hard, with an almost crystaline surface. This has to do with the type of starch that dominates, and how it responds to temperature. That may affect how it initially responds to heat in the wok.

              One Iron Chef liked to coat his rice with beaten egg before adding it to the wok.

            2. t
              thecampden RE: EdinburghStu Feb 19, 2011 02:20 PM

              I would say there are a few problems, one the noddles or rice needs to be cooked a day in advance and refrigerated to get rid of the access moisture, two you need oil to stir fry with such high heats things are going to stick, three a wok is designed for stir frying the curve in the pan makes the heat stay at the bottom and defuses rapidly as it moves up the side. No doubt a Lodge Cast Iron Cookware Wok would be good for stir frying.

              1 Reply
              1. re: thecampden
                s
                Soup RE: thecampden Feb 19, 2011 04:25 PM

                I fry rice and noodles all the time in my lodge. I own a wok but never use it as it never gets hot enough to create that smokiness.

                Here are my suggests (to be honest they are repleats of the many folks' comments).
                1. make sure it clean
                2. oil is hot
                3. use day old cold rice that has been in the fridge

                moisture will create the problem you are experiencing. The moisture releases the startch that sticks to the pay. Best way to clean when this occurs is boil waster and scrap w/ wooden spoon.

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