Woks- Is tri-ply stainless bad because its expensive or because it sucks?
I know that carbon steel and cast iron are much more popular materials for woks than something like stainless steel because the first two will be much cheaper than a tri-ply wok.
But, these tri-ply woks are on sale at Sur La Table so there's not as big of a price difference anymore. (I have a Sur La Table giftcard that I'm trying to use up):
If the carbon steel wok and tri-ply wok both cost the same amount of money, would the carbon steel wok still be the preferred choice?
<Is tri-ply stainless bad because its expensive or because it sucks? >
<I know that carbon steel and cast iron are much more popular materials for woks than something like stainless steel because the first two will be much cheaper than a tri-ply wok. >
I won't use the word "because". I would substitute it with "despite" or "in spite of". There are many reasons why carbon steel and cast iron are the preferred materials over stainless steel (triply or not), and the cost is the last of which. You don't hear people love their cast iron skillets because they are cheap. They love cast iron skillets because of their performance. Same here; in fact, more so.
<If the carbon steel wok and tri-ply wok both cost the same amount of money, would the carbon steel wok still be the preferred choice?>
Yes, a carbon steel wok would still be the preferred choice.
I own 2 All-Clad tri-ply woks and they are great at comparatively longer cooking times. They do a much better job of heat distribution at high temps as opposed to my carbon steel. The carbon steel is great at quick cooking, such as stirfried and frying. I spent the the bucks, and have a professional gas wok burner which covers far more surface area than my electric oven. Hence the storage of the tri-ply woks. I also do not have the requirements for multiple wok dinners that I had before. Such as cooking for 30.
Triply construction may work better as an Indian Kadai than a Chinese wok. The reason I believe this is that even heat distribution is not as critical for Chinese stir fry as other styles of cooking. In Chinese stir fry, the foods are meant to (expected to) be moved around very quickly -- often tossed repeated, as shown in this video.
As such, an evenly heated surface is not required. The center of the wok is expected to be much hotter than the rim -- which is completely different from a frying pan.
At very high temperatures, which Chinese stir fry should be, meats and many other foods have a great tendency to stick to a stainless steel surface. Thus, making it nearly impossible to properly stir fry.
<Such as cooking for 30.>.
Like this guy in the video? :)
Never tried to stir fry in stainless steel no less a multiple-ply vessel; however, I assume one of the benefits of using a simple steel wok is its immediate heat transfer to your regulated cooking flame. There is a balance in stir frying to keep the cooking temperature in tune with the quantity of ingredients working to quick fry but keeping them short of a scorch. Steel seems thermally transparent and quickly responsive to the flame.