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Is this an iron Wok?


mungouk

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mungouk

I recently moved into teachers' accommodation and was supplied with this new wok, which I haven't used yet. (I only have a single electric induction hob so I have pretty low expectations of the experience...)

 

Is it iron?  Does Chinese differentiate between iron and steel? I'm having a hard time using Pleco to OCR the text because of that white stroke around all the characters.

 

I can see 铁 (iron) in there but it seems to be bragging about health benefits rather than tell you what the wok is made of...?

 

wok1.thumb.jpg.8fb8b3b16867e55033dbc5c5ad7cd04a.jpg wok2.thumb.jpg.cc39a5305267951c86f678f4b993b2b8.jpg

 

One of my colleagues says his went rusty after using it, so I'm presuming he didn't bother seasoning it and drying it properly.  I've found the many useful wok-related threads and am working my way through them now... I just realised that last time I had a steel wok was in the 1980s!

 

Thanks!

 

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The big characters read 经典铸铁 - "classic cast iron"  - so you'd assume that's what it is. https://baike.baidu.com/item/铸铁/1994472?fr=aladdin

 

ETA In fact reading the rest of the label it claims to help add iron to your diet as it's been cast at high temperatures to reduce the carbon content and make the iron purer, which apparently allows molecules to enter your food in a way that's easy to metabolise. As recommended by some national health body, apparently.

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abcdefg

This wok, as @Jim said, is a cast iron wok. It should work fine on your induction hob if the bottom of the pan is relatively flat. This is the kind of wok that I've used the most for many years, even though I used mine over a gas burner. Chinese cookware made from cast iron is thinner and not as heavy as cast iron cookware that one finds in the West. It's my understanding that the pan is cast in a mold to acquire its basic form and then finished by pressing and even sometimes hammer forging. 

 

It's an excellent material and I prefer it over the coated aluminum "non stick" pans. The cooking surface of this wok is not intrinsically non stick. It needs to be seasoned before its first use so as to become non stick.The longer you use it, the better it gets. 

 

I will tell you how to season it tomorrow. It's not complicated. The steel will take on a deep luster. (Photo below of mine.) A wok of this type can be a real pleasure to use if handled properly. I will be glad to help you in the morning. 

 

5ab83fc556f31_IMG_4253--60.thumb.jpg.0dd324ee0abecd68d48be268b17a5432.jpg

 

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Yes, and it rusts like hell if you don't know what you are doing.

 

Avoid using it and get a 50kuai teflon/whatever one in IKEA: https://www.ikea.cn/cn/en/p/tolerant-wok-black-90247318/

 

Had this bad boy for 3 years and was all-purpose. The iron one rusted away after a couple washes, despite me following proper care guidelines... although, to be honest, Chinese people still use them if they have rust on them - however unsanitary that might be.

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abcdefg

Alternatives: 

 

In the unlikely event that, for whatever private personal reasons, you aren't interested in forming a careful and loving long-term relationship with your cookware, remembering the wok's birthday with roses and chocolates, calling it sweet names attached to terms of endearment, never raising your voice to it in anger,  and so on -- other options that will still do a good job of cooking a one-burner meal do come to mind. I would be remiss to imply that seasoning and caring for your cast iron wok is the only way to go. 

 

The most frequently encountered inexpensive non-stick coated pans are made of anodyzed aluminum and are not going to work with your induction hob, as already pointed out. For a little bit more, however, you can find steel pans, some made of stainless, some made of copper-steel alloys, that have a decent non-stick coating bonded to the inside surface.

 

These do a decent job in most applications and definitely require less care. A screaming hot Sichuan stir fry is where they fall down. Most cannot tolerate extremely high temps. 

 

If you go shopping for one of those, it's helpful to take a small magnet (the kind used for holding reminder notes to the door of your refrigerator.) Also clearly tell the salesclerk that your kitchen only has an induction burner. In Chinese these are called 电磁炉 (dianci lu) and they are not at all uncommon. You won't get blank stares. 

 

14299552_diancilu(3).thumb.PNG.03b2637c4a5e2ad9e66a72e05fdb02e7.PNG

 

Induction cooking is supremely fast and efficient. (I used to have one and loved it, especially when boiling water for tea.) It hasn't made large inroads in the US, where I am now, but that's just because lazy consumers have not gotten informed. Professional chefs sing their praises and use use them in their restaurant kitchens. (Admittedly less so in China.) 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So if you should decide to get one of the alternate non-stick pans, please let me know and I'll share some insiders' secrets about how to extend its life and get the best performance from it.  

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大块头
56 minutes ago, abcdefg said:

In the unlikely event that, for whatever private personal reasons, you aren't interested in forming a careful and loving long-term relationship with your cookware, remembering the wok's birthday with roses and chocolates, calling it sweet names attached to terms of endearment, never raising your voice to it in anger,  and so on -- other options that will still do a good job of cooking a one-burner meal do come to mind.

 

This a judgement-free zone, but perhaps you don't need to share all the scintillating details of your man-on-pan love affair. :wink:

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abcdefg

Haha @杰克! Yes, that takes the size prize! 

 

Quote

This a judgement-free zone, but perhaps you don't need to share all the scintillating details of your man-on-pan love affair. 

 

Apologies @大块头。 It was pretty steamy. I should have posted a warning. 

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大块头

Now if 杰克 could kindly start using not safe for wok warnings before sharing such lurid imagery, we can get back to troubleshooting how Mungouk is going to cook his food.

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Balthazar

Second all of @abcdefg's points.

 

I'd only add that I don't think using and maintaining cast iron cookware is that much work. The initial seasoning takes some time, but the steps are easy to perform and strictly speaking it's an optional thing. Other than that, the only thing you really need to be careful about is to not use anything too abrasive when cleaning it (not that it's a huge issue if you do (although, why in the world would you?), but you might have to season it all over) and most importantly to dry it properly afterwards.When it's fully dry, I add a couple drops of cooking oil to the pan and spread it around with some kitchen paper.

 

I'd also recommend heating it up slowly (not super-slow, but giving in 4-5 minutes of gradually increased heat increments before cranking it up to full force)

 

If you do see rust developing, remove it before it's been allowed to spread too much.

 

With a minimum of care you'll have a truly "buy it for life" cooking item (assuming the item is what it says, as usual China offers both the top and the bottom of the range with the price being the most reliable indicator of quality).

 

All that being said, the pictures looks almost like pure iron and not cast iron to me (but it's probably the lighting of the pictures).

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mungouk
17 hours ago, Balthazar said:

the pictures looks almost like pure iron and not cast iron

 

Thanks @Balthazar ... how are they different?  


By "pure" do you mean Pig Iron with a higher carbon content?  Is that better for woks or worse than cast Iron?

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Balthazar

I see that it's more commonly referred to as "wrought iron".

 

Here's an example of a wrought iron pan

Here's an example of a cast iron pan

 

Here's one explanation of the main difference:

 

Quote

Cast iron is iron that has been melted, poured into a mold, and allowed to cool.

Wrought iron is iron that has been heated and then worked with tools. In fact, the term “wrought” derived from the past participle of the word “worked.”

 

and:

 

Quote

“Cast iron” is a generic term that refers to a range of iron alloys, but is typically associated with the most common, gray iron. While cast iron may sound like the cast form of pure iron, it's actually an alloy containing 2 to 4% carbon, plus smaller amounts of silicon and manganese. Other impurities, such as sulfur and phosphorus, are also common.

 

[...]


Wrought iron is composed primarily of iron with 1 to 2% of added slag, the byproduct of iron ore smelting—generally a mix of silicon, sulfur, phosphorous, and aluminum oxides. During manufacture, the iron is removed from heat and worked with a hammer while still hot to get it into its intended final form.

 

 

In terms of application in cookware, cast iron is harder, (usually) thicker and significantly heavier, but also more brittle. Wrought iron is supposed to be really close to carbon steel pans in how they perform, so they're excellent for woking (as are thinner cast iron pans). Not sure if I've ever used one myself (wouldn't be able to determine whether or not my mother-in-law's pans are carbon steel or wrought iron), though.

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mungouk

Thank you all for your sage advice!

I've got a couple of bunches of 韭菜 jiǔ cài and some sunflower oil at the ready, and as soon as I've got a spare moment this weekend I will do the business (we're working of course since it's PRC, and actually I'm working Saturday 26th as well).

 

Cheers and Merry Christmas🌲 to anyone who's celebrating!

 

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abcdefg

Merry Christmas to you too! 

 

Did any of your students give you a "Christmas Apple?" It became a popular thing to do in Kunming, though I'm not sure if it is the same all over China. Street vendors with pushcarts suddenly showed up about 23 December on every street corner. They appeared from nowhere. And sales were over by 25 December. It was mainly a "Christmas Eve" phenomeon. The apples are wrapped in brightly-colored paper, often tied with a ribbon as well. Some had a "Good wishes" message stenciled directly onto the peel. 

 

 

1631710854_apple2-900.thumb.jpg.125e9954f150f7aa21239494b2701279.jpg     816379364_apple1-900.thumb.jpg.3394e2fad6a326ab55e5e47ebcf10091.jpg

 

 

I'm told that the custom originated because of the similarity in sound between Christmas Eve 平安夜 and Apple 苹果。I've attended parties and even raucous street celebrations on the eve of December 24th in Kunming. All quiet on the 25th, Christmas Day. By then the fun is over. 

 

 

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mungouk

I didn't get any apples, but did get a small "hamper" of snacks from one student, which is all crisps and sweets (potato chips and candy), so I'll be donating it to colleagues. It was a nice thought.

I had to head downtown in Hangzhou last night and the Kerry Centre was packed full of shoppers and restaurant-goers, many girls wearing little reindeer antlers, and lots of twinkly lights and xmas trees everywhere. I'm surprised at the amount of buy-in to the idea of xmas here.

Being able to go out and about is the real gift though. Back home in the UK everyone's back in full lockdown now.

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mungouk

OK I gave it a go. 

 

It didn't seem like the induction hob was up to the task... it kept cutting out with a beep and "E2", "E3" or "EA" on the display, presumably because it was overheating.

 

Is this really what it's supposed to look like? The wok was completely covered in oil on the inside, but it was only smoking around the bottom, presumably because the heat wasn't spreading everywhere.

 

IMG_6721.thumb.jpg.26f20daae7c673c8b4bce518b9cdc1d0.jpg IMG_6722.thumb.jpg.1cee7db2421b90146d2f48f89db2f93c.jpg IMG_6723.thumb.jpg.3edde42520e1e5c840f1f167bb70f67c.jpg

 

And when I wash this (and scrub it with a sponge-scourer thing but no detergent) should I expect this black stuff to come off?  Presumably this patina, such as it is, is the aim of the exercise?

 

 

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Balthazar

I've never seen anything like that before. Doesn't look good at all, I don't think the black stuff is patina (you didn't season the pan, right?). I'm starting to think that the pan may not be what the sticker says....

 

Did you slowly heat up the pan or go straight to maximum effect? One of the benefits of iron pans is that the heat spreads out really well, so even the areas not touching the heat element will get really hot provided you take your time when warming up the pan. (The setting on the first picture is 1000W, but I assume you'd been on higher levels before the black mark appeared?)

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