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Feb 16, 2013 03:40 PM

Iwachu cast iron skillet the best for steak?


Recently I watched this video: and it made me want to cook steak.

It seems like cast iron is the best for cooking steak on an electric stove, right?

If that's the case, I'm leaning towards buying an Iwachu skillet. It seems to get high marks. Whoever runs this blog: considers it their favorite, including over Griswold.

Let me know what you think, thanks!

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  1. <It seems like cast iron is the best for cooking steak on an electric stove, right?>

    Yes...kind of... I don't know if I would say it is the best, but cast iron is certainly one of the best for cooking steak, not just electric stoves, any stoves really.

    < It seems to get high marks>

    Iwachu skillets do get very high mark for its refined finish and stylish design. In my opinion, you can get great steak from a Lodge cast iron, Iwachu cast iron or Griswold. They all do a wonderful job. So go with what pleases you the most. Don't worry about making the wrong purchase, because you won't. They are all similar enough.

    Another style of pans to look for is the carbon steel pans. They also work well for steaks. I won't say they are better. They are just a bit different.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

      Agreed, ck. With something that cooks as quickly as a steak, I think anything reasonably heavy works fine. I use a vintage Lodge. I can't see spending a lot of money when it's not necessary.

      1. re: c oliver

        Thanks for the replies.

        Chemicalkinetics, is there something you think is better or equal to cast iron for steak on an electric stove? And in what way are the carbon steel pans different for steak?

        I think I read that some people have had issues with carbon steel pans warping, not sure if that depends on the brand. Also, it seems like you wouldn't want to put those in the oven.

        I did some more research on other stuff that's out there. I think I'm still inclined to go with a flat surface skillet, rather than a grill pan or reversible grill/griddle. For one thing, the flat surface is easier to clean, and with a skillet I can cook gyoza, which requires steaming.

        I do have a Breville Smart Grill contact grill, but it only goes up to 450 degrees.

        And I'm curious about the crust on steak, which I read is better with a flat surface.

        I still feel drawn towards the Iwachu. It seems like a better product than the regular Lodge if the craftsmanship is better, especially if the surface is smoother. And it's not too terribly expensive.

        I was looking at the Lodge Signature line, but only saw a grill pan at Amazon, and nothing on their website. An Amazon review did state that line is down until late this year or something. Also, since the grill pan's handle was stainless steel, I wonder about putting it in the oven. I guess it depends on the type, but I read SS is rated to 550 degrees. It seems safer to get all CI if I'm going to be putting it in the oven.

        1. re: BreakAes

          <Chemicalkinetics, is there something you think is better or equal to cast iron for steak on an electric stove?>

          Personally, I like cast iron the best. I just wanted to be a bit reserved, and pointed out that different people have different preference. I think carbon steel pans come very close to cast iron pans for steaks.

          <And in what way are the carbon steel pans different for steak?>

          Carbon steel pans are usually thinner and therefore lighter. I find carbon steel pans to be easier to season -- initially, but once the seasoning is establish, I find the cast iron seasoning surface to be more durable. These are some of the trade-off. I think you will do fine with a cast iron pan for your steak. I just want to throw out some alternatives.

          <I think I read that some people have had issues with carbon steel pans warping>

          That is true. Carbon steel pans can warp easier than cast iron pans.

          < it seems like you wouldn't want to put those in the oven.>

          Actually you can put carbon steel pans in ovens just like cast iron pans. This part, they are the same.

          < I think I'm still inclined to go with a flat surface skillet>

          A good choice.

          <I still feel drawn towards the Iwachu. It seems like a better product than the regular Lodge if the craftsmanship is better, especially if the surface is smoother. And it's not too terribly expensive. >

          A good choice indeed. I am not at all against you getting an Iwachu. I think it is an excellent pan and we have people writing good reviews of them. I just don't want you feel that you must get an Iwachu or else the food will taste bad. Your foods will taste fine.

          <Also, since the grill pan's handle was stainless steel, I wonder about putting it in the oven. >

          A stainless steel handle can endure very high temperature, much higher than 550 F degree.

          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

            Cool, I think I'm still inclined to go with cast iron for this purchase. It seemed to be better for my purposes than carbon steel.

            You know, I've read that some experienced cast iron pan users don't like Lodges at all. For example:

            However, they do get a lot of rave reviews at Amazon. But I think if Iwachu is the some of the best you can get, I might as well just go for that one. My motto is to do it right the first time, especially regarding one time purchases.

            If I get a response through Freecycle though, I'd definitely try whatever turns up.

        2. re: c oliver

          I agree on the vintage Lodge, or Griswold or Wagner. Not a fan of new Lodge. Most CI new nowadays is a rough casting, and will never be smooth.

          Lodge sold a lot of unmarked CI in the past, and it is often the best buy for old user CI.

          I am not familiar with the Iwachu, but if it is smooth in the interior, it should perform as well as vintage CI.

      2. I would get a basic Lodge first, borrow one from family if they have it, test drive for a few months, and see if you like it.

        Then spring for something more expensive.

        You really don't need super smooth cast iron, especially if you just want to make steak.

        2 Replies
        1. re: jaykayen

          I guess I don't see buying something just because it's more expensive. My old Griswold and Lodge do the job. Why pay more and not get more?

          1. re: c oliver

            I totally agree!

            Having never used Iwachu, I don't know if it is better. I have used vintage, smooth Lodge, while it is very nice, I can still fry an egg in my rough Lodge.

        2. I have that Iwachu pan and really like it, but don't think it's ideal for making steaks. The rounded sides and small bottom diameter make it a bit too cramped for cooking a good-sized piece of meat.

          Also, you might want to consider getting a grill pan. IMO, the ridges give you a nicer outer crust, and the dark brown stripes look nice too. I'd personally recommend a Lodge Signature grill pan, which is what I use for steaks.

          If you have your heart set on Iwachu, they do make a grill pan -- more of a ridged griddle, actually. It's available from Rakuten (or Amazon Japan).

          IME, the Lodge is easier to use due to it's stainless steel handle and helper handle.

          Here's a picture:

          25 Replies
          1. re: tanuki soup

            Thanks, do you have this one?

            A 9.5" diameter isn't large enough? It is too bad that they don't offer different sizes.

            If I go with a grill pan, wouldn't it be more versatile to get something like this?

            Good points that you make though. That Lodge Signature did get 8 five star reviews.

            1. re: BreakAes

              The frying pan I have is the one shown in the geezergourmet link you provided. It's kind of a bowl-shaped pan with a long, curved handle. In Japan, it's sold as an "omelette pan". I actually posted about it here a while ago. If you haven't seen the thread, you can check it out here:


              The pan you linked to at naturalimport would probably work better for steaks, since it's a more traditional design with a flat bottom and nearly vertical sides.

              I also have the Iwachu ridged griddle that I posted a picture of in my first post, but really prefer the Lodge Signature grill pan. The long stainless steel handle is key for me. Since I use an induction cooktop, it stays cool to the touch so I never have to use a potholder. Also, the higher sides of the Lodge reduce spatter to some degree, and also allow the use of a splatter screen if you want.

              I don't have any experience with reversible griddle/grill pans, but wonder whether there might be problems with maintaining the seasoning.

              1. re: tanuki soup

                I stopped using my LC grill pan years and years ago. The cute grill marks weren't worth the extra cleaning for me. I should probably get rid of it.

                1. re: tanuki soup

                  Thanks, yeah, if I go with Iwachu, I'd definitely get the regular frying pan.

                  Do you, or anybody else who could chime in, have experience with the flat surface Lodge pans vs flat surface Iwachu pans?

                  In your thread Politeness says, "tanuki soup: Iwachu. Motciron. I had guessed before I saw your second post. The best cast iron in the world, bar none. Omedetou."

                  Like I mentioned earlier, some people have blogged that Lodge isn't good in their opinion, and I have read that Iwachu gets high marks, but c oliver says that Lodge and Iwachu are equivalent.

                  If they are, then of course I'd go for the cheaper Lodge, but my understanding is that Iwachu is better because for one thing, it's like old Griswold and Wagner in that the surface is smoother for better non-sticking once it's properly seasoned.

                  1. re: BreakAes

                    Sorry, I didn't say they're "equivalent." I said mine get the job done. You want to cook a steak so nonstickiness isn't a factor. There are more words about CI on CH than there is water in the ocean (probably) :) You can read endlessly on the subject. And it's super easy to pick up old CI skillets at thrift stores etc. I found about a 12"er at Goodwill for $10+.

                    1. re: c oliver

                      Thanks, but while steak is what makes me want a cast iron pan, I'll be cooking other stuff in it, like the gyozas I mentioned. And I think for something like gyozas, which can tear, non-stick is very important.

                      I think unless I'd luck out and find a good Griswold or Wagner at a thrift shop, I'd rather just get something online. If I recall, 12" Lodge is around $18.

                      I'm still leaning towards the Iwachu, but I'd like to hear from someone who's compared Lodge and Iwachu flat surface frying pans....or at least has used the Iwachu pan I mentioned, and can give me an opinion on it.

                      1. re: BreakAes

                        I use my CI for everything except frying eggs and that's because I'm unwilling to be as strict about the whole seasoning process as some. Gyoza done in a frying pan will release once the liquid is added, IMO.

                        The link you provided looks like with shipping you're coming in at well over $100. Too rich for my blood...or as they say, to each his/her own :)

                        1. re: c oliver

                          Huh? It's like $81 with UPS ground.

                          1. re: BreakAes

                            Sorry, your link cited $75 and $50 international shipping.

                            1. re: BreakAes

                              For that kind of money I can buy a nest of 3 Wagner or Griswold skillets and still have money left over for lunch. The going price around here at estate sales is around $10 each or less stacks of 3 as long as you stay away from the collectibles. A little work is generally needed to clean/reseason, but you should do that with new pans anyway

                              1. re: Bigjim68

                                Would eBay be the best place to get them online? Which is better, Wagner or Griswold, or are they about the same?

                          2. re: BreakAes

                            Hi again, BA.

                            I have both Lodge and Iwachu smooth-surface frying pans -- Lodge: Signature skillets (large and small) and a Logic flat griddle; Iwachu: the curvy pan, a flat griddle, and a two-layer gyoza cooker.

                            IMO, the Iwachu pans aren't significantly smoother than the Lodge pans. They all have a kind of fine pebbly or sandy surface. The preseasoning seems quite similar too.

                            Given that you can get a Lodge pan for a good price (and free shipping) in the US, I think ordering an Iwachu pan would be kind of splurging. OTOH, Iwachu is exotic and has tons of Japanese cool factor, while Lodge is definitely in the "sensible shoes" category. Since either choice will last a lifetime, maybe the price shouldn't be too much of a consideration.


                            1. re: tanuki soup

                              Excellent points and perspective. I'm definitely more the "sensible shoes" type when it comes to most anything...other than shoes :)

                              1. re: tanuki soup

                                Thanks for the review. If they're about equal as you say, then I'll just go for the Lodge.

                                It seemed like some people much prefer Iwachu, and some people dislike Lodge, but most of the reviews on the Lodges are very positive.

                                It looks like they aren't selling the Lodge Signature skillets right now. Maybe I'll go for a reversible grill/griddle like this now: and wait on the skillet till they bring back the Signature series.

                                1. re: BreakAes

                                  You can get Lodge Signature from Overstock.


                                  Lodge Signature is quiet a bit more expensive than Lodge Logic or Lodge Pro-Logic. I am not a big fan of griddles due to the difficulty of moving them around.

                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                    Thanks, I saw that too, but they're out of stock. I'll have to wait if I want Lodge Signature.

                                    I'm pretty strong, so I don't think I'll mind moving them around. The single burner grill/griddle is only 6.5 pounds too. I think it would be better to get 2 of those, if needed, rather than one big one. I do need to find the right oven mitts though.

                                    1. re: BreakAes

                                      < but they're out of stock>

                                      Sorry. I didn't pay better attention. Good luck.

                                      <I'm pretty strong, so I don't think I'll mind moving them around>

                                      I don't mean just the weight, but also the heat. When you were to heat a cast iron skillet to a very high temperature, you can still easily move the hot skillet by holding the handle. You may want to move the skillet inside or outside an oven, or you may want to tilt the pan to slide out the steak, or you may want to "jerk" or "shake" the pan to saute....etc..etc.

                                      When you heat a cast iron griddle to a high temperature, you may have trouble moving it even with an oven glove or two. Even if you can move it with oven mitts, you will find it to be very cumbersome. Good luck.

                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                        Yeah, that might be true. Those Lodges do have corner handles.

                                        I've been researching gloves to handle cast iron with. Zetex Plus is rated to 2000 degrees. There are also firefighter gloves. Those are expensive, but there might be deals at ebay.

                                        And I'm curious about the BBQ Bravo gloves, but I'd need to know the max temp on those.

                                    2. re: BreakAes

                                      I'm curious. What would you be using the grill/griddle for? It doesn't seem to be something that would ideally go from stovetop to oven. A grill pan does quite easily but this seems at best awkward and at worst a big mess on the stovetop, the floor or the bottom of the oven :(

                                      1. re: c oliver

                                        I'd be using it for lots of different stuff, but for transferring to the oven just steak I guess. It should be ok as long as I get the right gloves and am careful to not spill anything.

                                          1. re: BreakAes

                                            Unless you want a very large cooking surface, a griddle isn't exxactly user friendly. As for you the Zetex Plus gloves being rated 2000 degree. It simply means the gloves are rated to be 2000 degree without getting destoryed. It may not mean you can use them at that temperature if the insulation does not hold. For example, a cast iron cookware can easily handle 1000oF with no problem, but it does not mean you can grab a 1000oF cast iron with your bare hand.

                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                              I ended up getting these: According to the seller they're a "better quality Ove Glove". We'll see. They're rated to 550 degrees, so hopefully they'll work for cast iron and 500 degree ovens.

                                              1. re: BreakAes

                                                :) Just be careful. Wear the gloves and quick touch the cookware a few times before grabbing it.

                        2. On an electric stove, thermal mass is your friend.

                          Living in an apartment with a weak electric stove, I converted to Lodge cast iron. Take a good heavy skillet and put it on the coil for ~15 minutes at high heat. Then take your room temperature seasoned steak and plop it in the pan and leave it alone. In 3~5 minutes, it should lift easily and put the other side down for another 3~5 minutes. Then finish it off in the oven with a pad of butter. Mmmmm.......

                          1. Thanks Sid, the pad of butter does sound like a good idea. It seems like putting the pan in the oven first, like he does in the video, would be a good addition to your method.

                            Has anybody used this Iwachu frying pan?

                            I'd like to get an opinion from somebody who's used it before making a purchase.