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Will my Staub "perfect pan" function as a true wok with induction?

With the goal of taking on new challenges in cooking, I just purchased the 12" Staub cast iron "perfect pan." It comes with a mini rack, stir fry tools, and a glass lid. At 14", they call essentially the same pan a "wok."

Question #1: how well does it function as a wok? how does it compare to non cast iron woks?

Question #2: How well does it work with an induction energy source?

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    1. re: VeganVick

      Google is our friend :)

      http://www.williams-sonoma.com/produc...

      CI is induction capable so don't see any problem in that regard.

    2. This pan will not function as a wok

      5 Replies
        1. re: c oliver

          It won't function as a "traditional" wok, because those are intended to be used over VERY high heat (you can't do that with enamel, it will destroy the coating), are light enough to be lifted and tossed (this one is far too heavy), and are thin enough to respond very quickly to changes in temperature (this one won't).
          This is basically just a wok-shaped cast iron skillet.

          1. re: Sirrith

            Good points. To be fair, they call it a "perfect pan"--not a wok. Staub claims that their products will stand very high temperatures--if the temperature is increased gradually. Perhaps for this reason, one of the W/S reviewers mentioned a "learning curve" involved with this pan.

            Have you used it? Why do you suppose that the reviewers (see link above) are so positive?

            1. re: drrayeye

              Nope I have not used it :)

              I was just replying to why it will not function as a traditional wok.

              The only Staub things I have are a few of their Cocottes which I love.

        2. re: VeganVick

          How about braise and saute? Tried "perfect pan" for the first time today: first, braised some meat, placed it on the rack. Then stir fried some mushrooms, onions, garlic, and spices. Added meat back in. Poured in "magic white sauce" I made earlier. Simmer. Yum.

          Not a wok, true--but not bad.

        3. I have a flat bottom steel wok and it works very well on my induction. Use a Silpat to prevent scratching the cook top.

          4 Replies
          1. re: subal

            What are your specialties? What's a Silpat?

            1. re: subal

              Good suggestion re the Silpat. I also have a flat bottom steel wok that works fine on induction. I also stir fry in just a large skillet.

              1. re: c oliver

                I've got a thin steel stir fry pan that works fine on induction, but it wobbles like a Weeble. It warped during seasoning. Lesson learned, I'll stick with heavier pans for high heat.

                My pan still works, but it's a pain. Makes terrific popcorn, though.

              2. re: subal

                Subal,

                Does your wok slide around easily on your Silpat, or is it a little "sticky"?

              3. Hello Doctor:

                #1: The shape is wrong for both a "true", i.e., traditional, wok and for the flat-bottomed compromises necessitated by smooth glass-topped hobs. There is too much surface area at the bottom to pool oil efficiently, and insufficient wall space to allow you to perch food out of the oil.

                Can you stir-fry in it? Yes. But you can stir-fry in a conventional saute pan, too. Good luck tossing in the traditional northern "pow" style; you should focus on Cantonese stir-based preps. Traditional Cantonese woks are often cast iron, but rarely this thick.

                #2: If by "work" you mean efficiently generate heat in an induction field, the answer should be "very well". Unless there is a sensor glitch (as was the case with earlier Viking induction units), cast iron is very induction-friendly.

                This appears to be Staub's jump onto the "Everyday" or "Essential" (etc., etc.) bandwagon all the other makers are now flogging. It is a hybrid which I think would function acceptably as a rondeau, braising pan, or poele, but it is not all things to all preps and it definitely falls short of "perfect". I think this pan shape is versatile in a common-denominator sort of way, but claiming much more than that is unwarranted.

                Assuming you already have a smooth-top induction appliance, I'd recommend you try a $30 flat-bottomed carbon steel pow wok and compare it with this hybrid. Lodge also makes far more affordable cast iron woks that are round-bottomed, yet sit flat.

                Aloha,
                Kaleo

                3 Replies
                1. re: kaleokahu

                  Thanks, Kaleo,

                  I'm committed to induction, and my unit is a Vollrath Mirage Cadet. I wish I could have afforded the pro, but the Cadet is wonderful.

                  There is already quite a body of reviewers at WS who almost all love this pan, so Staub must be doing something right. Like most of those who've commented so far on Chowhound, I don't think this is a wok at all--but that may not be so bad.

                  In years past, I've owned and enjoyed a real carbon steel wok--low cost, lots of action--but over a gas flame. Even though the French have built cast iron domes that they sometimes call "woks," their concept seems a bit more sedate, derived from their braisers. In fact, the Staub 12" "perfect pan" and the 4 qt. braiser are the same dimensions, differing mostly by cast iron verses glass lids.

                  Staub and Le Creuset both make 14" cast iron self described "woks.". What does one do with them? I quote: "perfect for stir frying, braising, steaming, and stewing." That's not what I used to do with my wok.

                  As you have pointed out many times, cast iron takes quite a bit of time to warm up, and these "woks" need to warm up gradually. I could imagine a stir fry meal prepared and on the table with a steel, aluminum, or copper wok before a cast iron wok was warmed up.

                  But, braise and saute' might be another story altogether.
                  That's what I think most of the perfect pan users were enjoying: braise some meat, put it on the rack, stir fry some vegetables, add the meat back in, add some sauce, simmer--no?

                  Best,

                  Ray

                  1. re: drrayeye

                    Hi, Ray:

                    Sure, this thing would make a good "desert island" type pan. I don't view the utility of the rack as having much to do with the shape of this pan.

                    I think you'll find that it heats quite fast on induction. Whether or not it heats evenly--and how far up the sides--may be a different matter that depends on how well your specific pan mates with this Vollrath appliance. Given the pan's smaller base and Vollrath's reputation for quality, you may get great results. If you have an IR thermometer gun, why don't you see?

                    Aloha,
                    Kaleo

                    1. re: kaleokahu

                      Hi Kaleo,

                      No gun; no fun.

                      Based on multiple technical reports, I don't expect heat distribution to stabilize too quickly. Staub wants users of all cast iron cookware to warm up the pans for five minutes before going to maximum power. By then, I'm supposing that both temperature and distribution have stabilized.

                      I've used this same approach for all my metallic pots and pans with great success.

                2. Don't worry about the shape--I have used flat bottom and round bottom cast iron and carbon steels woks, as well as Griswold cast iron skillets and De Buyer carbon steel skillets and they can all make varying tasty stir fries that don't stick.
                  ,
                  But what they have in common is the ability to get really, really hot (as in 600F+ hot). Enamel can take this heat occasionally, but it's just not a good or practical to expect it to do this on a regular basis without damage.

                  Use this gorgeous pan for it's best purposes--sautéing over medium-high heat and for braising. And it makes GREAT popcorn too...!

                  For really good stir fries you need heat, heat and more heat and metal cookware that can take this heat...!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: toddster63

                    Thanks, Toddster63,

                    That's really terrific advice. I agree that this pan is much more a "braise and saute'" than a true "stir fry marvel."

                    Ray

                  2. <Question #1: how well does it function as a wok? how does it compare to non cast iron woks?>

                    It will work ok as a wok, but not great. You will able to do some light stir frying tasks. It will not be as good as a standard carbon steel wok.

                    <Question #2: How well does it work with an induction energy source?>

                    It should heat up just fine.

                    23 Replies
                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      Thanks, Chemicalkinetics,

                      Further questions for #2: Will it get hot enough? Will it respond to change fast enough?

                      Ray

                      1. re: drrayeye

                        <Will it get hot enough?>

                        This is a bit tricky. The short answer is: yes, it will get hot enough -- assuming your stove is sufficiently powerful enough.

                        However, due to its weight, it can take sometime to heat up to the desirable temperature.

                        Many call the Chinese wok cooking as stir fry, but really there are about 8 classic techniques with the wok. The two best known as "chao(炒)" and "bao (爆)". This Staub pan will likely able to handle the lower temperature chao, but not the higher temperature and quicker movement of bao.

                        wikipedia:

                        "Stir frying is a pair of Chinese cooking techniques for preparing food in a wok: chǎo (炒) and bào (爆). The term stir-fry was introduced into the English language by Buwei Yang Chao, in her book How to Cook and Eat in Chinese, to describe the chǎo technique."

                        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stir_frying

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          That's a really terrific analysis and great information, Chemicalkinetics.

                          Ray

                          1. re: drrayeye

                            drrayeye,

                            I've recently begun searching for an alternative to a classic sauté pan. Something with some curve in the side walls. You mention that dimensions are the same for the Perfect Pan and Braiser...what is the base measurement?

                            I love my sauté pan, in fact it's my most-used "flat" pan. But I really don't like straight walls in short pans. My "perfect pan" will be approximately 12" diameter at the rim, 3" deep and about 9-10" at the base. Sort of a deep French skillet.

                              1. re: kaleokahu

                                Nope, not for my perfect pan. Got to be able to deglaze with impunity, you know.

                                Clad SS or ECI are it, I'm afraid. And I worry about ECI, given the weight of the pans. Still, they're attractive for their semi-stick enamel.

                              2. re: DuffyH

                                Check out the Country Fry pans by De Buyer, made of carbon steel. I think Williams Sonoma carries them among others.

                                They do have to be seasoned, but are the perfect dimensions you are looking for (I have been lusting after one myself for some time!) My De Buyer mineral skillets get used all the time and I always reach for them before my cast iron (Griswold mainly). Once seasoned, everything out of them is delicious, particularly eggs and potatoes...

                                Below is a picture of the 12" model with the helper handle:

                                 
                                1. re: toddster63

                                  Toddster63,

                                  Thanks for the rec. But as much as I love my deBuyer crepe pans, these need seasoning, which means I can't deglaze and make the sauces I like. That's a deal-breaker for me.

                                  1. re: DuffyH

                                    Now, now, Duffy, of *course* you can deglaze and make integral sauces in carbon steel pans. For someone who already reseasons her SS, reseasoning carbon steel would not be that onerous.

                                    And you can always have the carbon steel pan tinned. Who knows, you might like that fond even better.

                                    In this vein, you might mosey over to eGullet and read of doyenne emeritus andiesenji's experience with induction converter plates. We'll get you back on track eventually...

                                    Aloha,
                                    Kaleo

                                    1. re: kaleokahu

                                      Kaleo - There's no curve in those sidewalls anyway, so ;-p to you. Besides, it's nonstick. At least the way I season it, it is.

                                      VeganVick - Please don't encourage him. ;-)

                                      I really, really want an 11" SS or ECI 3" deep French skillet, or the closest thing to it I can find, like a sauté with curved walls. I've already got a nonstick sauté that gets used a LOT more than I thought it would, and I don't want another nonstick, at least not for this pan. I want sticky or semi-sticky with curved walls.

                                    2. re: DuffyH

                                      My wife makes plenty of BBQ/saucy meals in our debuyer pans. Sometimes I have to re season but that takes all but 5 minutes.

                                      1. re: VeganVick

                                        Hi VeganVick,

                                        I expect such meals would be right in the wheelhouse of the Perfect Pan: I'll have to find out.

                                        drrayeye

                                        1. re: drrayeye

                                          I just not a fan of non stick got safety reasons. Also I fo not like the way the cook

                                          1. re: VeganVick

                                            Hi VeganVick,

                                            Not all non stick have the same safety problems.

                                            I think that the All Clad nonstick with d5 is reasonably safe, but may not maintain its nonstick properties after awhile. Really good cooks know how to avoid sticking, even with conventional metal plans, but I'm not there yet.

                                            I use the conventional d5 10" for saute'ing and the nonstick for omelettes: slides right out of the pan onto my plate!

                                            Ray

                                            1. re: drrayeye

                                              This is where I have issues these pans do not stay nonstick for long. On the other hand my debuyer becomes more and more nonstick to the point where it's laughable, I don't cook eggs but I do cook pancakes and French toast on the regular. I had a couple slide onto the floor not paying attention. My wife was almost totally against using carbon steel now they are definitely her go to pans and she abuses the heck out of them. I did buy my mother-in-law a titanium coated pan that seems to be extremely scratch resistant. It was definitely marketed as nonstick but it was sadly disappointed.

                                              1. re: VeganVick

                                                Hi VeganVick,

                                                Great comments. I purchased the Staub cast iron Perfect Pan as an alternative surface. The texture is scratch resistant, and the surface can build up a further seasoned protective fond with use.

                                                At least, that's the theory.

                                                I'm sticking with my All Clad d5 10" nonstick pan for ommelettes, imitating the Vollrath ommelette chef I've watched perform on Youtube with the Cadet induction unit.

                                                Ray

                                    3. re: toddster63

                                      Hi Toddster63,

                                      I have two All Clad 10" d5 pans, one nonstick, the other traditional--and one domed lid. They work well with eggs and potatoes, omelets, and most any saute'ing.

                                      I often saute with them, then transfer the contents to a Saucier or Dutch oven.

                                      There are numerous 12" variants in All Clad: triclad, d5, and copper core--some heavily discounted--that are similar to your 12" De Buyer mineral skillet's dimensions.

                                      But they are completely different products from the "Perfect Pan," intended for substantially different cooking--I hope.

                                      drrayeye

                                    4. re: DuffyH

                                      Hi Duffy,

                                      Follow the link above to Williams-Sonoma (or Google them). You can see the specifications and the reviews for the Staub "perfect pan."

                                      It sounds right up your alley,

                                      drrayeye

                                      1. re: drrayeye

                                        drrayeye,

                                        It doesn't give the measurement across the base. If you'll measure that for me I'll be your best friend and take you to the circus. Really! ;-)

                                        1. re: DuffyH

                                          Hi DuffyH,

                                          6 1/2 inches. That is almost perfect for my induction unit. My 1 1/2 and 2 1/2 quart Tri-clad saucepans and my
                                          3 1/2 qt. saucier are all about 6", and my two All Clad 10" d5 pans are about 7".

                                          Do I get to see the clowns?

                                          drrayeye

                                          1. re: drrayeye

                                            drrayeye,

                                            Thank you. The clowns are the highlight! :-)

                                    5. re: drrayeye

                                      Ray,

                                      Have good and enjoy your new pan.

                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                        Thanks, Chemicalkinetics,

                                        I've got a lot to learn.

                                        Ray

                              3. I would expect that any cast iron pan will work badly for any sort of cooking that requires the ability to control heat well. i.e. most stovetop cooking.

                                11 Replies
                                1. re: davidg1

                                  Davidg1,

                                  I'll let you know. My Vollrath Mirage Cadet induction unit can make precise 10 degree adjustments from 150 to 400 degrees--almost too subtle for my All Clad d5 pans.

                                  Once preheated, reviewers in W-S claimed that the Perfect Pan was very responsive.

                                  drrayeye

                                  1. re: drrayeye

                                    Hello, Ray:

                                    Play with it. I think you will find that it goes up fast (by virtue of being on induction), and comes down slowly (by virtue of it being cast iron).

                                    How to put this... With all the steel in d5, the Staub may compare favorably with it in terms of responsiveness. There are different conclusions to be drawn from that, depending on your perspective.

                                    Aloha,
                                    Kaleo

                                    1. re: kaleokahu

                                      Kaleokaku,

                                      I'll give you a report--I promise. I'm guessing about 6 months to master the "learning curve" and turn out some really special meals.

                                      I hope.

                                      Some international targets: several French Vietnamese dishes; the Thai "Khou Na Gai" (chicken gravy over rice)

                                      drrayeye

                                      1. re: drrayeye

                                        The fact is that even if you can get it to heat up quickly enough (which is questionable) the pan won't cool down quickly when you need it to, which is an ability needed for most stovetop cooking. It's pretty basic to cooking.

                                        1. re: davidg1

                                          Any thick cookware will have that problem, not just cast iron.

                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                            That's the balance we're all looking for, isn't it? My old Calphalon skillets could be prone to overheating, so I quickly learned to bring down the heat on them. In a Demeyere video, their Proline skillet is shown off the heat, with water boiling, long after the competition has ceased to boil.

                                            I ordered a USA Pan 10" skillet today. It's 5-ply and it will be interesting to see how it stacks up to my other pans, balancing retention and response. If it's as good as most of their baking pans, it will be outstanding. I hope so, because it's really close to what I've been looking for.

                                            http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/store...

                                            1. re: DuffyH

                                              DuffyH,

                                              Your new pan comes very close to my two All Clad d5 10" pans--with one domed lid. They've often been transitional pans for me--either unfrozen items from a saucepan, saute'ed items to a saucier for reduction, or a fresh mixture of meat, vegetables, wine, and spices to a dutch oven for infusive simmering. Thinking that I could use a modified dutch oven for one pot cooking led me to the "perfect pan."

                                              Don't worry. I have not thrown my 10" fry pans away: I still need the crutch of nonstick sometimes to hide another faux pas, and there are dishes where a fry pan is all that I need.

                                              Your 10" USA Pan should bring you lots of joy.

                                              drrayeye

                                              1. re: drrayeye

                                                drrayeye,

                                                Thanks for the encouraging words, that kind of talk is always welcome.

                                                <Thinking that I could use a modified dutch oven for one pot cooking led me to the "perfect pan.">

                                                That's where I'm hoping to go with this pan. It's quite deep for a skillet (2.5") and has an 8" base. This makes it only ¼" shallower, and 1" smaller, than my 3 quart sauté. That pan is a Zwilling, quite similar in construction to AC 3ply, and is used more than any of my other short pans. It's such a good size for so many things, it sort of just wins by process of elimination when I'm reaching for a pan to do whatever. The rest are either too wide, too small at the base, or don't have the volume I need for that whatever.

                                                But it's got 2 things that make it unsuited for some applications. It's nonstick, so no fond to speak of, and it's got straight sides, which gives me fits when making a roux. In my world, fond and roux go together like Kirk and Spock. I seldom have one to dinner without the other. And that means curved walls.

                                                You'll laugh. I decided to get ready for it tonight, so made a saucy Thai chicken dish in my Vollrath Tribute saucier, just to work on my SS stir fry skills. The Tribute pan is about the same thickness as AC D5, but faster, because the core is all aluminum. 10 ounces of bite size chicken equals 3 batches in a 2 quart saucier, even my very wide shallow one. Did you know that? I didn't. *sigh*

                                                1. re: DuffyH

                                                  God bless you Duffy, at least you're an empiricist. As much as we sometimes disagree, at least you're out there trying bunches of new things all the time. Salut.

                                                  1. re: kaleokahu

                                                    Hi K,

                                                    Thank you for the kind words. Being data driven isn't easy, is it? And as it turns outs out for me, not cheap, either.

                                                    You know we only disagree because we draw different conclusions from the same data set. But that what adds spice to my Chow life. :-)

                                          2. re: davidg1

                                            Hi davidg1,

                                            Let's stick to wok style stir fry.

                                            It's pretty complicated with the "perfect pan." Staub wants users of the "perfect pan" to warm up the pan for 5 minutes at about 1/3 power before going to full power. On my Vollrath, and many other induction units, a sudden switch to a maximum temperature setting leads to a temperature overshoot. Taking the pan off the unit, or turning it off immediately ceases magnetic activity, leading to a very rapid drop in temperature.

                                            I've noticed that in making puddings with my WS thermo clad 1 1/2 qt. pan. I heat it to a boil, and the boiling stops nearly instantly when I turn it off.

                                            The trick would seem to be to cycle a pattern of braise and stir activities correctly--which may be part of the "learning curve" that users describe with this pan.

                                            I guess I'm about to find out.

                                            drrayeye