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Looking for a New Pan is De Buyer my best choice?

I enjoy cooking stir fry's (fairly high heat) and have recently read Grace Young’s book “Stir Frying to the Sky’s Edge” which has inspired me even more.

My dilemma is the pan I use.

I love my nonstick cookware. But they all fail. I’ve used All-Clad, Swiss Diamond, and Now Vollrath . All eventually loose their non stick abilities after about 6 months to a year of constant use. Of course, Grace Feels the wok is the perfect tool for stir fry’s whether Carbon Steel or Cast iron last but not least SS. I have attempted stir frys in some of my All-Clad SS fry pans and the splatter sticks very hard to the sides and it is just to difficult to clean.

My problem with woks is the size of the bottom portion that’s flat. In most cases it’s less than 6.5” and that is too small for my style... My current Vollrath is a 14” Eversmooth with Ceramiguard coating and I really love this size. The Flat portion is about 11” and I can do so much in this pan. After about 6 months of use I can see it's failing too and I’m looking for an alternative.

My Cooktop is Gas Wolf Brand.

I have been looking at carbon steel as cast iron is just too heavy. De Buyer is interesting but you cannot get the larger Round 14" "lyonnaise" fry pan, in blue steel in the USA but I have found the 14” Blue Steel Country Pan at 'Finest Cookware' (2mm thick). The De Buyer Country Pan is 8 pounds as apposed to the pan I’m now using at just over 5 pounds. This is pretty heavy..

http://www.finestcookware.com/catalog...

I know I will probably get flamed for using nonstick. But what’s interesting, while watching Jamie Oliver on a cooking program he was using a T-Fal (red dot in middle is a dead giveaway) on an outdoor bbq grill. He actually set it on the coals for several minutes. Now, he’s a fellow who advocates healthy cooking and this is odd if it is truly unhealthy.

Anyway, I’m looking for some ideas on my next pan purchase. Thoughts appreciated.

Though I do love the look of All-Clads new 5D Brushed SS Nonstick French Skillet.. This is light and pretty big at 13". Only offered at Williams Sonoma.

http://www.williams-sonoma.com/produc...

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  1. You're cooking with gas, not ceramic or induction - woks shouldn't be a problem.

    Forget de Buyer - get a cheap, carbon-steel wok from any Asian grocery. Don't get cast iron - it's heavy, hard to toss and can break if you accidentally bump something with it. It'll build up a non-stick patina in no time. Uneven heating? That's what stir-frying is all about. The most important part is the handle and its attachment to the pan - you'll want something that's comfortable, especially if you toss food, and with a strong attachment, so that you don't have to discard your well-used pan with a nice patina due to a failing joint.

    2 Replies
    1. re: sunrider

      Thanks for the reply. I probably should try a wok. But it will not be as useful as a pan with a wider bottom. In my humble opinion.

      Our local Fred Meyer has a spun wok that seems ok with riveted handles. I've looked at others and they seem of similar quality. The rivets will probably assure the handle stays fixed over time.

      1. re: Ross101

        Mine has a perfectly round base, with no flat bottom, and is perfect.

        Whatever you get, make sure it's carbon steel, not cast iron or aluminium, and definitely not coated.

        An Indian/Pakistani kirahi is very similar (to the point that they're used interchangeably with woks in the Subcontinent), and will also do the same job.

    2. Ross,

      Everything you said is true. Things like nonstick cookware losing their nonstick property and foods sticking to stainless steel cookware... etc. There isn't a good nonstick pan which can do proper high heat stir fry. Chinese restaurants either use carbon steel wok and/or cast iron wok. Keep in mind that Chinese cast iron wok is much thinner than the typical Western cast iron cookware. An American Lodge cast iron wok is very thick, listed as 14 pound for shipping weight:

      http://www.amazon.com/Lodge-Pro-Logic...

      However, a traditional Chinese cast iron wok is much lighter. This one is 3.8 pound shipping weight:

      http://www.amazon.com/inch-Traditiona...

      That said, I won't recommend a Chinese cast iron wok to a new comer to stir fry.

      There are good reasons why a wok has the sharp it is. The curvature of the wok allows foods to be tossed and catched with ease. Much of the wok space is actually not for heating foods but for maneuvering foods. The following video illustrates this quiet well. Notice the foods never overwhelm the wok:

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

      Food tossing is a very essential part of Chinese stir fry, and when the bottom is too flat and too wide, that takes on a negative effect on the tossing ability.

      My suggestion is that you can shop for a carbon steel wok anywhere, Chinatown, Asian grocery stores, online stores. There are narrow bottom woks and there are wide bottom woks. You mentioned DeBuyer. DeBuyer has the 35 cm (14.2 inch) country fry pan, which has a wide bottom and a high side:

      http://www.debuyer.com/product.php?id...
      http://www.foodservicewarehouse.com/e...
      http://www.bakertowne.com/servlet/the...

      I personally won't use it to stir fry due to my preference but this may fit what you are looking for. Again, there are plenty other pans like this, not just from DeBuyer. For example, this Joyce Chen carbon steel pan has a very wide flat bottom:

      http://www.amazon.com/Joyce-Chen-Carb...

      Just look around.

      As for Jamie Oliver, he is famous, and that is all I am going to say.

      6 Replies
      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

        I love the video of the chef cooking fried rice.Such great technique.They cook on very high heat which they control with their foot,yes? Is there a special name for the laddle they use?

        1. re: petek

          Pete,

          I think either you can call it "Wok Laddle" in a Western stores. Or if you are in a Chinese store, you can call it "Hoak"

          http://www.wokshop.com/HTML/products/...

        2. re: Chemicalkinetics

          Chmicalkinetics: "There are good reasons why a wok has the sharp it is. The curvature of the wok allows foods to be tossed and catched with ease. Much of the wok space is actually not for heating foods but for maneuvering foods. ... Food tossing is a very essential part of Chinese stir fry, and when the bottom is too flat and too wide, that takes on a negative effect on the tossing ability."

          Exactly.

          "DeBuyer has the 35 cm (14.2 inch) country fry pan, which has a wide bottom and a high side ... I personally won't use it to stir fry due to my preference but this may fit what you are looking for. Again, there are plenty other pans like this, not just from DeBuyer."

          Yes, in that style pan, the Matfer Bourgeat line is a little (not a lot) thicker gauge, and sturdier, and includes one pan just about that size: http://www.amazon.com/Matfer-Bourgeat.... And M-B makes one that is even larger: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000... as well as one a bit more than an inch smaller: http://www.amazon.com/Matfer-Bourgeat...

          1. re: Politeness

            Just want you to know the first amazon link does not work. Take the "peroid" out.

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              Interesting; the period was not part of the link that I posted, but the link was the last "word" in the sentence, which I ended with a period. Apparently, Chowhound's software has a bug that picks up the period outside the link.

          2. re: Chemicalkinetics

            Thanks for the reply Chemicalkenetics. I think you've made a good case for me to try a wok and see how it goes. The video of the chef making a stir fry is really inspiring and amazing.. thanks.