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DavyJonesLocker

Selecting a wok 炒锅

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abcdefg

You're welcome @DavyJones. 

 

7 hours ago, DavyJonesLocker said:

Incidentally I think I need a new wok. Even frying ginger is sticking to the pan.

 

Maybe and maybe not. Assuming it's a steel wok, either carbon steel or cast iron and not a non-stick aluminum wok gone bad, one thing to try first would be to re-season it. Scrub it hard while wet with coarse steel wool, or better yet one of those Chinese spiral wire scrubbing  pads. Use plenty of dish soap or even gritty scouring powder.

 

222707449_IMG_5805-65wirepad.thumb.jpg.c9823cbcb6a374c33ef7e4f9cac878c9.jpg

 

Harsh is good: Show it no mercy! When you can see steel again instead of the accumulated patina coating that has been burned on over the years, then boil water in it for 5 or 10 minutes. Pour that out and do it again a couple times until the water stays pretty much clear. 

 

Then re-season it as described in this thread: https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/51217-wok-and-chopsticks/ 

 

I have "rescued" two or three old, abused and rusty woks, left by previous tenants in previous rented apartments. It's worth a try, only requiring the investment of some elbow grease. If it doesn't work, then you can buy a new one.  

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DavyJonesLocker
3 hours ago, abcdefg said:

Maybe and maybe not. Assuming it's a steel wok, either carbon steel or cast iron and not a non-stick aluminum wok gone bad,

 

it's definitely a nonstick Wok gone off, so might be time to scrap it,  what do you think for an allrounder, steel or another non stick one

 

By the way: just throwing it out there but has anyone try a Fanta chicken Wings. Is that totally dumb? 😎

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abcdefg
14 hours ago, DavyJonesLocker said:

what do you think for an allrounder, steel or another non stick one

 

The biggest issue, in my opinion, is whether you have gas  or electric burners. If you have gas, you can use either. If you use electric, you're better off with steel. For electric, also consider just buying a large, high-grade flat bottom fry pan 平地煎锅。A round-bottom wok won't get hot enough to be much use. 

 

People tend to be in one camp or the other regarding non-stick woks, and there is not a lot of common ground or crossover. I had a non-stick wok about 3 years ago and liked it just fine. Gave it away when I went back to the US at what I thought was the end of my China time. But I managed to return, and when I did I bought a thin walled, super-hard cast iron one, and liked that even more. 

 

The traditional advantages of an iron wok, either hammer-forged carbon steel or hard cast iron, over a thick non-stick aluminum one is that it heats more evenly on the flame, with no "hot spots. Also, they heat faster and cool faster, thus accommodating better to the variations in cooking temperature required for a complex Chinese dish.

 

The wild card is that non-stick technology keeps improving at a very fast pace and is no longer just a matter of some kind of slippery coating like Teflon sprayed on as an afterthought. New ones can be very high tech and fuse the non-stick substance with the actual body of the metal at the molecular  level. Newer compounds also are allegedly safer in not emitting harmful fumes. Some of these modern woks use cast aluminum or alloy blends instead of steel. 

 

Frankly I'm not too well informed on this interesting topic. Would suggest you spend some time researching it. And then I hope you will return to teach the rest of us what you found out. Maybe others on the forum will join in with their personal preferences. 

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DavyJonesLocker
1 minute ago, somethingfunny said:

@DavyJonesLocker No - I used a non-stick pan and fried it in batches, so no problem with anything sticking to the pan.

 

The middle tofu dish I took from a 川菜 recipe book, and I think it was called 家常豆腐.  It was a pretty simple dish with minced pork and 豆瓣酱, but the result is pretty good.

 

 

Cheers i think it's time to dump the old pan, the non stick material (Teflon) is well worn at this stage.  I can avoid the problem by drowning it in oil but not something I would rather do.  Tough to know how much to pay for a new one though. The prices vary a LOT! 

 

I looked at them today in fact in the department store, from 100RMB to 4000 for non stick ones Seems like a ridiculous price. Online some are even higher price (10K+ RMB) 😮

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abcdefg
17 hours ago, DavyJonesLocker said:

Cheers i think it's time to dump the old pan, the non stick material (Teflon) is well worn at this stage.  I can avoid the problem by drowning it in oil but not something I would rather do.  Tough to know how much to pay for a new one though. The prices vary a LOT! 

 

You can get a good one for about 300 Yuan (think 250 to 350.) No need to spend more. Would suggest sticking with one of the top brands, Supor 苏泊尔, ASD 爱仕达。It should come with a lid included; a "standing lid" is a useful feature, well worth having (called 可立盖。) Being able to stand the lid up when you take it off during cooking is more handy than I thought it would be. 

 

32 cm is just right for two people (or for one.) No need to go larger unless you are feeding a large family. Bigger ones get clumsy and hard to handle. Generally speaking, I think 30 cm is too small, even for one. It makes you crowd the food. Be sure to tell the salesperson in the store whether you cook on gas 煤气/天然气 or electric 电炉/电磁炉。Makes a big, big difference in what wok will work well (different bottom structure.)

 

Decision between non-stick 不粘锅 and steel 铁锅 (either forge hammered carbon steel or cast iron) is frankly a tough call. I've owned and been pleased with both. Non-stick formulations keep getting better and better. Might ask the salesperson whether or not the one you like can tolerate high heat. 

 

Personally I like a wok that has some thickness and heft, is not too light. Retains heat better and usually cooks more evenly. Now is a good time to buy. I've seen "Autumn Harvest" type sales in several store. They often throw in a long spatula 锅铲 free as a "sweetener." If it's not mentioned up front, I would ask. 

 

Happy hunting! Please let us know how it works out. 

 

--------------------------------------- 

Here's more about my last wok shopping process. Might have some additional useful vocab. Being able to ask the right questions as you shop is half the battle.

 

https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/51217-wok-and-chopsticks/?tab=comments#comment-392506 

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DavyJonesLocker
4 hours ago, abcdefg said:

Decision between non-stick 不粘锅 and steel 铁锅 (either forge hammered carbon steel or cast iron) is frankly a tough call. I've owned and been pleased with both. Non-stick formulations keep getting better and better. Might ask the salesperson whether or not the one you like can tolerate high heat. 

Many thanks

 

Are the steel ones non stick too, i.e. are they coated or is it just the material itself that makes it less likely to stick

 

i seem to remember my granny using the same pan for decades for frying bacon and vegetables etc  (as in 30 years) and polishing up with steel wool of sorts to shine it up. That was back in the 70's and 80's! 

 

i tried 鱼香肉丝 today, with a lot of oil and the 猪肉 still stuck to the bottom, not a lot but iit means a lot of soaking and washing afterwards which in itself puts me off

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abcdefg
11 hours ago, DavyJonesLocker said:

i tried 鱼香肉丝 today, with a lot of oil and the 猪肉 still stuck to the bottom, not a lot but iit means a lot of soaking and washing afterwards which in itself puts me off

 

I'm convinced from what you have said in several recent posts that you need a new wok. Cheaper woks have a life span, especially the ones made with a sprayed-on non-stick coating. I've seen on-line video about how to refresh or even replace the non-stick coating, but it always looks kind of amateurish and improvised. Never have seen a video that makes me think, "Oh, that looks slick. Maybe I'll try to do it." Plus most of these "re-coating" projects require power tools which I don't own. Cheaper to buy a new wok. 

 

11 hours ago, DavyJonesLocker said:

Are the steel ones non stick too, i.e. are they coated or is it just the material itself that makes it less likely to stick

 

Nearly always, a steel pan, an iron pan, needs to be seasoned to give it non-stick properties. And it improves with use. Each time something is cooked in it, additional fat molecules bind to the slightly-porous metal, making it smoother and slicker.  

 

That's the short answer. The longer answer is that in most stores selling woks, such as the kitchen utensil section of Carrefour or Walmart, where I sometimes shop, one will be offered an initial choice between a 不粘锅 non-stick pan, and a 铁锅 iron pan. But that oversimplifies the situation, since there are sub-types of each. 

 

Steel woks, iron woks are made two different ways. One is to hammer a sheet of hot carbon steel into a rounded shape and fit it with handles. This "forging" is typically started by powerful rollers, followed by automated electric or steam hammers which beat it against a shaping die. Then the better ones are finished by hand. A skilled craftsman with big arms and a heavy hammer. The formula for one company's carbon steel may not be exactly the same as that of a competitor. And there may be fine points in the forging process that set them apart as well. 

 

Another group of steel woks, iron woks are cast instead of rolled. Molten steel is poured into a mold and shaped further after it has cooled enough to become solid. The process is similar to what has been used for years in the west to make such classics as Grandmother's big, heavy cast iron skillet that makes such great fried chicken or buttermilk biscuits. The Chinese wrinkle to this process which has improved it greatly, is a way to use the same basic process but have it come out much thinner and lighter. These modern cast iron woks are no heavier, or only slightly heavier, than hammer-forged carbon steel ones. 

 

I've had both kinds and I've used them hard, albeit in a home kitchen, not a commercial kitchen. I think the cast iron ones are a little easier to care for, less likely to develop sticky spots and less likely to rust, but both work well with proper care. 

 

(This has gotten long. Going to stop and continue with a discussion of non-stick woks in a minute.)

 

  

 

 

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DavyJonesLocker

Thanks for the great write up. Will get one today if I have time. This is the state of my current pan, it looks knackered to me, 

 

As you can see it's a 30cm one. The flat base is around  15∼16cm when measured from the underside

 

Hands up, I have used metal spatulas and steel wool on it which wasn't a smart move .

 

Oddly enough, looking at Jing Dong (the shopping app) most seem to be around 28cm but from the pictures it seems they aren't actually the traditional wok shapes, more like a western frying pan with high sides. I have a flat frying pan so no need to consider this style). 

 

IMG_20181002_121509.jpg

IMG_20181002_121519.jpg

IMG_20181002_121957.jpg

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abcdefg

Agree, yours looks shot. Time for a new one. 

 

1 hour ago, DavyJonesLocker said:

Oddly enough, looking at Jing Dong (the shopping app) most seem to be around 28cm but from the pictures it seems they aren't actually the traditional wok shapes, more like a western frying pan with high sides. I have a flat frying pan so no need to consider this style). 

 

Be sure to get a 炒锅 -- that will be the "wok" shape you are after. In the quote above it sounds like what you are describing is a 平地煎锅 (flat-bottomed saute pan.) Those are also usually smaller than traditional woks, 26 and 28 cm, while woks are usually 32 or 34. 

 

If you get a non-stick wok 不粘炒锅 I can tell you how to extend its useful life. (I've ruined a couple of them over the years; finally learned some tricks for better care.) 

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Lu
4 hours ago, abcdefg said:

MODERATOR -- COULD YOU HELP ME OUT.

I'm going to try and make you a nice clean wok thread here, but it's going to take a bit of untangling, so nobody post in this thread for half an hour or so, alright? I'll let you all know when I'm done.

 

ETA: Okay, done! Let me know if something is still amiss.

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abcdefg
16 hours ago, Lu said:

ETA: Okay, done! Let me know if something is still amiss.

 

Thanks, @Lu, appreciate your help.

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abcdefg

Here's a pretty good discussion of how to select a wok (and other cooking pots and pans) in a Chinese home cooking show:  (Video, in three parts.)

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BaYhUKLXa4A

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=StnCItPM7v8 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1PMasL_48rA

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DavyJonesLocker

Thanks @abcdefg

 

Very informative. I ordered one on line yesterday. I saw it in the store first so looks decent but fortunately this week there is a good saving on line. Was 400 , now 289 with discounts and coupons. 32cm supor .

 

This time, no steel wool to clean it!

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abcdefg

Hope it works out well. Is it a non-stick wok? 

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DavyJonesLocker
11 minutes ago, abcdefg said:

Hope it works out well. Is it a non-stick wok? 

 

Yup, by the way how "clean" do you clean your wok. Someone said that a quick wash was enough just to remove the main grime, no need to scrub it up totally clean. 

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abcdefg
1 hour ago, DavyJonesLocker said:

Someone said that a quick wash was enough just to remove the main grime, no need to scrub it up totally clean. 

 

Yes, that's right. After cooking, wipe it out with a paper kitchen towel while still hot. Then, after a minute or so (see footnote), wash it in hot water with some liquid dish soap 洗洁精 and a rag or sponge (nothing stiff or abrasive.) Dry it with a dish towel or paper towel fairly well then put it on the stove over medium flame briefly and wipe it again with a paper towel 厨房纸巾 so that it is good and dry. Last of all, put a little oil in it, at most a fourth of a teaspoon (by eye) and rub that around well with another paper towel. The surface will absorb it. When the wok gets cool, put it away in a soft bag of some sort. I use the 1 Yuan re-usable grocery bags from WalMart or Carrefour that are made from some kind of cheap cloth/paper combo fiber fabric. 

 

867055884_IMG_6017-60.thumb.jpg.34ca9c8f09fd5b8750392eb7ada49615.jpg   1343488254_IMG_6022-60.thumb.jpg.e8be0c144f611a716eb4102c81533831.jpg

 

Footnote: Caution -- Running cold tap water into a hot non-stick pan can sometimes cause it to warp. Can also harm the non-stick properties of the surface. 

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DavyJonesLocker
1 hour ago, abcdefg said:

When the wok gets cool, put it away in a soft bag of some sort. I use the 1 Yuan re-usable grocery bags from WalMart or Carrefour that are made from some kind of cheap cloth/paper combo fiber fabric. 

 

 

That's a great idea actually, the problem is that other things get thrown on top of it when dry so scratches, abrasions can occur

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DavyJonesLocker

Well I got this one Supor PC32R7.

 

Just checked on TMall ,RMB399 with the same price in some of the stores I looked at. I paid 289 as mentioned above. Seems a good hefty one which I really like but I can imagine it being a bit heavy for some. My gf thinks it's too heavy. They threw in a decent sized wooden spatula as a bonus. Nice

IMG_20181005_111718.jpg

IMG_20181005_111641.jpg

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abcdefg

Looks real good! Heft is a good thing. That's why they put on a "helper handle." And it even has a stand-up, glass center lid.  Well done!

 

First time you use it, take a minute to clean and season it. Wash with warm soapy water, using a dish rag or sponge (something soft.) This gets off any factory protective crud that it shipped with. Then wipe the inside well with some cooking oil on a paper towel and put it on low to medium heat for a minute or two.

 

Every time I use my non-stick pan I wipe the inside well with a little oil before turning on the heat. Doesn't work if you just pour some oil in the center and swirl it around. Doesn't work if you wait until the pan is hot. Doesn't work if you do it after the food is cooking in the pan. This pre-oiling augments the non-stick properties of the pan. Makes it work better. No nonstick pan is 100% non stick. It may be 90% nonstick or 95% nonstick. Wiping it with oil before heating makes it "more non-stick" than it was before. 

 

Although you doubtless already know these, here's a pretty good review of the main care tips: 

 

 https://thecookingdish.com/0227/the-top-10-rules-when-using-nonstick-pans/ 

 

These are the ones I most often see ignored: 

  • Don't use high heat. Medium is almost always high enough. 
  • Don't put cold water into a hot pan for cleaning. Let it cool some first. 
  • Don't let food stand in it too long (An hour is OK, but overnight is not.) The acid in many foods will harm the surface if it is in contact too long. 
  • Protect it when storing it. Be sure it's clean and dry. Don't let other pans scratch it up if you are "nesting" them. I hang some of my pans on the kitchen wall. 

 

Hope it gives you lots of tasty food with very little hassle and no grief! 

 

 

 

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