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Iwachu cast iron skillet the best for steak?


Recently I watched this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8zGE... 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: http://www.geezergourmet.com 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: http://toolsofrenewal.com/?p=4894

            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? http://www.naturalimport.com/inc/sdet...

            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? http://www.amazon.com/Lodge-Logic-Sin...

            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: http://www.amazon.com/Lodge-Logic-Sin... 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: http://www.artcoinc.com/heat_eliminat... 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? http://naturalimport.com/inc/sdetail/...

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


                            1. Well, I called Lodge and the rep said they've discontinued the Signature series due to lack of sales from the price.

                              I found some at ebay, but they're too expensive.

                              If I buy a Lodge, or anything other than an Iwachu, what size should I go for? 12"?

                              21 Replies
                              1. re: BreakAes

                                < they've discontinued the Signature series due to lack of sales>

                                I am not surprised.

                                <If I buy a Lodge, or anything other than an Iwachu, what size should I go for? 12"?>

                                The size which the bottom of the pan matches the size of your stove. For example, my so called 10" Lodge cast iron skillet has a 10" diameter opening on the top, but the bottom diameter is 8". My stove is 8". So the bottom of my Lodge pan matches with the size of my stove.

                                Your potential 12" pan will likely have a cooking surface diameter of 10". A 8" stove is ok, but anything smaller than that is no good.

                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                  To add to you data, I just measured the ones I have in this house. I have a larger one at the lake house. It comes out as follows:

                                  10" = 8-3/4" cooking surface
                                  9 = 7-1/2
                                  8 = 6-1/4
                                  6-1/2 = 5-1/4

                                  Because I cook on induction, even that itty-bitty one can be used on the stovetop. I use all of them pretty regularly but if I were starting from scratch, I'd probably begin with a 10 or 12". The only one I bought new was a second of the real small one cause I can do a wonderful stacked potato dish in it for just the two of us. Recently when our kids and their families were here I did the same dish in the 12" one. Making myself hungry now :)

                                  1. re: c oliver

                                    <10" = 8-3/4" cooking surface
                                    9 = 7-1/2
                                    8 = 6-1/4
                                    6-1/2 = 5-1/4>

                                    Thanks for the nice information.

                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                      At this point I'm thinking about buying the Lodge combo cooker: http://www.amazon.com/Lodge-Logic-Pre...

                                      If I buy from Amazon I need to get something that's over $25 for free shipping. Seems like I could find a use for the big pan, and it would be good for camping.

                                      Any thoughts on that piece? At $30 it seems like a good deal, and some of the reviews suggest it be the first cast iron pieces you get.

                                      1. re: BreakAes

                                        I don't own this combo set, but I have heard good things about it. I will offer my opinions on the good and bad of a set like this.

                                        The good is that this is probably one of the best deal. You get two cookware for $25.

                                        The bad is that the skillet is the cover for the cooker, and may see a lot more water vapor than a normal skillet would. This may not be best for the seasoning surface.

                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                          Word, 2 for 1 at that price seems pretty unbeatable!

                                          Hmm, interesting thought about the water vapor potentially affecting the seasoning. I ran a search for "water" on the reviews, and none of the results seemed to say that's a problem though. If it does end up being a problem I could get a lid, but I would like to know if that's an issue before I buy it.

                                        2. re: BreakAes

                                          What would you do with that?

                                          It's incredibly easy to break the $25 barrier. A cookbook?

                                          1. re: c oliver

                                            Baked potatoes for one. I'm intrigued by this review: http://www.amazon.com/review/R2723W7F... A frying pan and a lid would be about the same price as this combo cooker, maybe even more expensive. Apparently there are a ton of things you can use this set for....and it would be great for camping.

                                            I don't think I'll ever buy a cookbook, to be honest. All the recipes I could ever want are online.

                                            1. re: BreakAes

                                              You bake potatoes IN something? Tell me more. You must do the kind of camping where you drive right into your campsite. I can't imagine carrying CI very far :)

                                              ETA: I buy cookbooks cause not everything I want to cook is online. Case in point, a CH cooked a green apple and speck risotto the other night. She'd have not known about it other than in the cookbook. I have a too-big collection of online recipes but it's not complete by any means. YMMV

                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                For backpacking cast iron isn't what you want, but for car, beach camping etc I think cast iron is what you want.

                                                Did you see the review?

                                                "If you have never cooked baked potatoes in a cast iron dutch oven or a cast iron skillet with a cast iron cover, you don't know what you are missing. A little butter and salt, stick them in the oven for the greatest tasting potatoes you have ever eaten. It also works equally as well with sweet potatoes. This is a wonderful cooker---everyone should have one!!!! Purchased from AMAZON!"

                                                Sounds pretty good to me.

                                                1. re: BreakAes

                                                  That's about the sillies thing I've ever read! Amazon reviews are simply one person's opinion. And frequently based on little. I think *I* make the best baked potatoes (of any kind) and I don't need cookware to do it.

                                                  And, yes, that's what I was assuming. That for someone who drives their car to a campsite, then sure take the cast iron. Along with the multi-burner propane grill and all the other accoutrements :)

                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                    And have you ever tried that method?

                                                    1. re: BreakAes

                                                      I've never tried wrapping a potato in foil and I know I won't. It ain't broke so I ain't fixin' it. I don't like a lot of 'toys.' Almost every piece of cookware in my kitchen gets used a lot. I don't consider them status symbols. I don't decorate with them. They're tools and they earn their keep.

                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                        So it's "the silliest thing you've ever read", but you haven't even tried that method. Right.

                                                        1. re: BreakAes

                                                          Yep. That's right. I don't find it necessary to try everything. Don't need toys in the kitchen.

                                          2. re: BreakAes

                                            The biggest issue is the small size. The skillet lid is basically one hamburger or two pieces of chicken "sized".

                                            Water vapor isn't an issue if it's been seasoned unless you use it exclusively to boil stuff, in which case $10 at a thrift store is a better buy.

                                            1. re: Sid Post

                                              <Water vapor isn't an issue if it's been seasoned unless you use it exclusively to boil stuff,>

                                              Exactly. If the fry pan is used extensively, then it is not a problem. However, if the pot is used extensively for moisture cooking (while the fry pan is used occasionally), then it may be a problem.

                                              1. re: Sid Post

                                                Good point about the size. Thrift store shopping for cookware is such a good deal and frequently successful.

                                                1. re: Sid Post

                                                  You mean the depth? For the lid it looks like 1 3/4" and the pan is about 3". The diameter for both is about 10 inches. The largest burner on my stove is around 7 inches. Seems like a good fit to me.

                                                  1. re: BreakAes

                                                    The lid has higher sides than the round griddle, but otherwise seems pretty similar. The bottom diameter of the lid may not really be 10 inches because of the rounded sides, but since your burner is ~7 inches, that shouldn't be an issue.

                                                    For this price and free shipping, and from the reviews, why not go for it?

                                                    1. re: BreakAes

                                                      Sloping sides take away from the cooking surface. I add ~2 inches to the pan over the size of my burner/coil.

                                        3. I went through some of the same thoughts before I ended up selecting the Lodge 10.5 inch round griddle with a handle,

                                          I am really glad I went with a griddle with a longer handle.

                                          And I usually use this handle mitt,

                                          When I am using it on the stovetop, I leave the mitt on the handle to protect myself from unthinkingly grabbing the handle.

                                          This pan could be an inexpensive way to figure out if cast iron cooking is going to work for you and your burners.

                                          Hope this helps, -sou

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: souvenir

                                            You reminded me of another jfood tip. When you take that skillet out of the oven, put a mitt or a towel around the handle. A word to the wise :(

                                            1. re: c oliver

                                              Oh yes! For some reason, I don't have a problem remembering a mitt when removing the pan from the oven, but do when it is on the stovetop.