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Mar 18, 2012 07:31 AM

Need stir fry pan recommendation

I don't have a high output burner. I have the gas burner (builder quality). What kind of pan do you recommend for stir frying? I don't want any non-stick coating. I am cooking for 4.

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  1. It depends how serious you want to stir fry. For entry-level, you can use a frying pan or better yet a high edge frying pan for stir fry. I recommend using either cast iron or carbon steel -- if you do not want nonstick coating. Something like this:

    For authentic and serious stir frying, I recommend a Chinese wok either made of carbon steel or thin cast iron. This is a hand hammered wok which I bought recently, but you can easily get a regular one for ~$15-25.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

      Would I be getter off with a wok with a flat bottom or a curved bottom given that I don't have a wok ring (nor high output burner)? I would probably get a carbon steel wok.

      1. re: shorty68

        Do you have a gas stove or an electric coil resistance stove?

        There are arguments for either way.
        The flat bottom wok (if you want a wok) will give you the advantages of
        (1) more stable on the stovetop
        (2) better heat transfer and therefore able to heat up faster and heat to a higher temperature.

        The round bottom wok.
        (1) slightly easier to season on stovetop
        (2) easier to maneuver foods by utensils or tossing

        The round bottom wok will need a wok ring. A wok ring is fairly cheap ($3-6), so I won't worry about it. You can get one while you are getting a wok.

        My burner is not high output neither. The trick (not a real trick) is to make sure that I do not ever overcrowd the wok. When necessary, I stir fry in two batches.

        I think if this is your very first stir fry wok, then it is safer to go for a flat bottom wok.

        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

          I had a wok before, but did not get much use of it before it became rusty. Now I know that I should dry it out. I have a gas burner. I have read some reviews of woks where it is a common problem that woks get rusty. If I dry the wok out, would rust still be a problem or do I need to coat it with a thin layer of oil (like what I do with my Lodge pan)?

          1. re: shorty68

            My woks do not get rusty, nor do my other cast iron cookware. They can definitely get rusty in a humid environment, but I guess I do/did not live in very humid areas.

            A thin layer of oil will definitely keep the cookware from rusty. The problem is that cooking oil can go rancid after a certain amount of time. So usually the recommendation is to use "cooking oil" if you are going to store the cookware for a few months, but to use "mineral oil" if we are talking about something much longer. You can treat your carbon steel wok, just the same as your Lodge cast iron pan. Whatever works for you. :)

            Beside using oil, there are two other things you can do to decrease the chance for rusting. First, it is to heat dry the cookware before storing them (something you have mentioned). After cooking and washing, put the cookware back on the stove and heat it up at medium-low to medium heat to dry off all water from the cookware, cool down, and store it. This will dry the cookware much better than just wiping with a paper towel. Second, it is to put paper towels on the cookware during the storage. This will keep the cookware a bit more dry.

    2. If you want a pan that is more versatile and can afford it, I'd recommend a Chantal Copper Fusion Chef's Pan. It is enameled inside and out, oven and dishwasher safe and is shaped like a flat bottomed wok. I have 3 woks that I've had for many years. I still use them but my Chantal is one I reach for more often. It is so efficient with heat it is amazing. If you ever go for induction cooking you will be wowed with how fast the pan is.
      I have a couple more pieces to acquire and will. Induction is definitely in my future

      1. This isn't for everybody, but I bought a Lodge cast iron stir-fry pan. It's very big, and heavy, but I love that pan. It was "preseasoned", which means you don't have to start from scratch, it's not that expensive, and it cooks beautifully. It has a rounded bottom on the cooking surface but is flat on the flame surface- the best of both worlds, if your heat source is up to heating up a big cast iron pan. Look it up and see if it's a possibility for your situation.

        2 Replies
        1. re: EWSflash

          I just use my cast iron frying pans and they work fine for me. I have an old electric stove and my wok just does not do well those burners. If ever I get a gas stove, I hope my wok will work on it. It is a carbon steel wok and I really like it, but it just sits in my cabinet. Been there for a number of years.
          Anyway, cast iron does not require a lot of heat and once hot, it stays hot for a while.
          I will say a cast iron frying pan is not as much fun to use for stir frying as a real wok, but it works.

          1. re: dixiegal

            "Anyway, cast iron does not require a lot of heat and once hot, it stays hot for a while."

            True, the thermal mass of the thick cast iron will able to maintain the temperature.

            An important way to use the thin carbon steel wok on an electric stove is to limit the amount of food to put in. In other words, make sure the foods do not suck all the heat out, and start to "simmer" in the wok as opposed to "stir frying". Once this is achieved, then it should not be a problem.

        2. I would use All-Clad Stainless Steel 12" Skillet. Or a big (12 or 14 inch) DeBuyer Mineral B Element normal Frypan or Country Cheff Iron Pan. If you don't flip food in a pan, cast iron skillet may work.