Tramontina and high heat
I'm planning to buy a decent cookware set, and I've got my eyes on Tramontina tri play clad. However, in their "use and care" section, it says, "Cook or boil using low to medium heat only."
I like to stir-fry (using high heat, of course), but I'm not sure if this is going to be a problem. Also, how do you boil water in medium heat? I tried boiling water in medium heat, using my mom's copper tri clad, but the most I saw were small static air packets on the bottom of the pot.
Thanks in advance.
As previously mentioned, with tri-ply cookware manufacturers only recommended using medium-high heat when frying or sauteing to prevent warping. If you're boiling water, high heat is fine.
I would also add that a flat tri-ply saute pan is actualy better for stir frying than a wok given that the flat surface of a western stoves. Cooks Illustrated has demonstrated this numerous times given that the curved surface of a wok causes uneven heating. A flat surfaced saute pan is much better for high heat searing associated with stir-frying.
<Cooks Illustrated has demonstrated this numerous times given that the curved surface of a wok causes uneven heating>
Cooks Illustrated has been wrong on so many things, including on knives. Cooks Illustrated certainly is entitled to its own opinion, but it is an opinion. I doubt many serious Chinese cooks (professional or not) would use a classic saute pan to stir fry over a wok.
<the curved surface of a wok causes uneven heating>
If that is the logic, then it makes no sense, which explains why Cooks Illustrated has litte authority on this matter.. Why would anyone need an even heating wok. The whole point of a wok is to have concentrated heat (uneven heating). Can a person use a saute pan to stir fry? Possibly. Will it be better than a wok? Unlikely.
A wok is supposed to have "uneven heating," fiery hot in the bottom and tapering off up the sides. Experienced cooks use this to move food into and out of the hot spot while keeping the wok on the flame. You can't do this with a skillet, whose sloped sides are too shallow, and definitely not with a sauté pan whose sides are sharply vertical. That's not to say you can't stir-fry in a fry pan, you can stir-fry or fry while stirring in just about anything, but it's not the same.
Cooks Illustrated is not about authentic foreign cuisine. It's for American cooks in American kitchens preparing American or Americanized dishes. As such it's good at what it does, though personally I find its recipes and techniques too finicky and prefer to keep it simpler. I do rely on its equipment reviews and taste tests, and haven't found serious fault with any I've used; others may have had different experiences.
re: John Francis
<That's not to say you can't stir-fry in a fry pan>
Agree. I have used a fry pan for stir-fry. It is do-able with a few limitations. I just disagree with the idea that a fry pan is better than a wok for stir fry, and certainly won't write an article titled "Throw Out Your Wok", and then follows with 2-3 articles with similar theme.
It is one thing to say "You don't need to get a wok. You can get by with a fry pan". It is another thing to say "Oh, I see you have a wok....Let's toss it in a the trash can"
I happened to read an article on Westernized Japanese knives. It wasn't horribly wrong, but I disagree with the tests criteria. It evaluated the knife edge longevity with sandpaper. Quote:
"We sent all of the knives in our lineup to the CATRA lab in England to evaluate durability. There, a machine sliced them through stacked sheets of sandpaper, then rated them according to how many sheets they cut before becoming dull. "
In my view, the sandpaper test mostly targets the wear resistance of a knife, but wear resistance is only one of the major determining factors. It is not a 'be all and end all' factor.
Tramontina triply cladded cookware is as good as any. Any cookware manufacturers (including All Clad) will tell you to use medium heat because they like to be on the safe side. Quote:
"All-Clad recommends using low to medium heat when cooking with our pans."
Ultimately, what destroys a cookware is the temperature more so than the heat setting on your stove. When you are boiling water, the water will ensure the temperature is near/under 100oC. As such, you can turn the knob as high as you like. You won't able to destroy the cookware until all the water is boiled off. Similarly, it is very different heating an empty pan using the the highest heat setting versus heating a pan full of foods. Finally, the medium-high setting on your stove can be my stove's highest setting. There is no real "medium" heat anyway.
So my take-home-message to you are:
1) Tramontina is just as good (or as bad) as most cladded cookware.
2) Use the cookware based on common sense.
P.S.: Not related to your question, but I don't think triply cookware is very good for stir fry. If you really like stir fry, then you may consider a carbon steel wok.