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Is this an iron Wok?


mungouk

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abcdefg
15 hours ago, mungouk said:

It didn't seem like the induction hob was up to the task... Is this really what it's supposed to look like?

 

I agree with your asessment that the induction burner was not up to the task. Some of these burners have a rather small central heating coil, only 6 inches or so in diameter. Not only is the coil small, it can be underpowered. More expensive burners have a larger and more powerful heating element, 9 inches or thereabouts. 

 

It looks like the heat was not traveling very high up the sides of your pan. With a flame, one remedies this by tipping the pan this way and that so as to get the periphery hot. That won't work with an induction hob.  

 

My best guess is that what you now have is a partially-seasoned wok (the bottom is seasoned; the sides not.) This isn't the end of the world. Just use it as is and see how it goes. Don't expect it to work well at screaming-hot stir fry settings. Use medium and medium high for most of your tasks. Use adequate oil. 

 

15 hours ago, mungouk said:

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?

 

The black stuff doesn't need to come off and probably won't with ordinary washing. Agree with your conclusion that this dark central zone is probably patina, what we hoped would cover the entire inside of the wok. I don't think it is anything dangerous and doubt it will add an unwelcome flavor to your food.

 

What I would suggest at this point is to test it by giving the pan an ordinary washing. Dry it and oil it, then scramble a couple of eggs. Eggs cook best at low to medium heat. They only require a matter of seconds or maybe a minute. If they come out nasty and scorched, then it's back to the drawing board. The egg test will have kept you from ruining a bunch of more costly ingredients. 

 

 

 

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mungouk
4 hours ago, Balthazar said:

I don't think the black stuff is patina (you didn't season the pan, right?).

 

I followed @abcdefg's instructions above. This process itself is "seasoning" it unless I'm missing something.

 

I had the hob set to about 130-160℃... it gets very hot very quickly though. It didn't occur to me to start out as cool as possible to let the heat spread.... maybe I'll try that next time.

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abcdefg
1 hour ago, mungouk said:

This process itself is "seasoning" it unless I'm missing something.

 

Yes, the center of the pan looks like it is more or less seasoned now. I'm sorry the venture was not a success.

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Balthazar
18 hours ago, mungouk said:

I followed @abcdefg's instructions above. This process itself is "seasoning" it unless I'm missing something.

 

I had the hob set to about 130-160℃... it gets very hot very quickly though. It didn't occur to me to start out as cool as possible to let the heat spread.... maybe I'll try that next time.

 

I see. I always start with low heat with my cast iron (usually allow it 10 minutes or so, with a bit of oil inside, to slowly allow it to warm up and the heat to spread), and am also using induction. I almost never go above medium heat. No idea what temperatures the settings of my stovetop corresponds to, but on a range of 1-9 I will usually spend ten minutes on 2-3 and then another five on 4, rarely venturing beyond 6.

 

I haven't heard any success stories about seasoning a pan on induction, probably for the reasons mentioned (small heating area, fast heat transfer). If I were you, I'd try again borrowing a gas stove from someone nearby (great way to get to know the neighbors, eh?) or even better (although probably hard to find in China) someone with a oven.

 

How does the bottom of the pan look? Was it warped at all (would suggest thermal shock)? If you want to find out whether or not the black spot on the inside is only patina or something else, try to remove it with a strong soap (or even better (but handle with care!): lye).

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mungouk
8 hours ago, Balthazar said:

I'd try again borrowing a gas stove from someone nearby (great way to get to know the neighbors, eh?)

 

Unfortunately I'm living on campus, and all the teachers' accommodation has the same induction hob. 

 

Maybe I should just build a bonfire somewhere...

 

 

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Not to set a dare of course, but if you really want to test your wok skills, then try the classic but seemingly so simple 三不粘:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6E0p0cF5NI

 

Note that the video has been edited; the final stage actually takes about 10 minutes. (Start to finish, your typical stir-fry spends 3-4 minutes in the wok.)

 

As long as we're here, the same guys doing 炸酱面, among many other captivating videos they've posted:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tb0h3GJ4ciY

 

Don't let the informality and home kitchen setting fool you. As you ought to be able to tell, these are top-ranked chefs.

 

If after watching these videos and listening to those voices you don't hunger to be in China, then you should give up and study another language.

 

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Balthazar
9 hours ago, mungouk said:

Maybe I should just build a bonfire somewhere...

 

:mrgreen:

Might also want to consider one of these

 

But seriously, if I were you I'd skip seasoning the pan altogether and instead just let patina build up over time through usage and lubrication. Just be sure to use copious amounts of oil in the beginning when cooking (and again, slowly heat up the pan each time), don't over-clean it, and apply a small amount of oil to the inside after each use, and you should get a nice coating.

Below are two cast iron pans i own. The one to the right has never been seasoned intentionally, but it performs almost just as well as the one to the left (which has been seasoned). Actually, the picture is a bit unfair, as the larger, seasoned, pan was used only yesterday (and as always i rubbed a bit of oil on the inside after it had dried) whereas the smaller one hasn't been used for a few weeks (and therefore look a bit more dried up)

 

20201229_135201.thumb.jpg.c0436737dcac01de86099fa8b14dfbd4.jpg

 

 

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abcdefg
12 hours ago, mungouk said:

Unfortunately I'm living on campus, and all the teachers' accommodation has the same induction hob. 

 

I would be very interested in how the other teachers have solved this problem. Can't help wondering if they all have the same sort of wok as well as the same sort of induction hob. Maybe this wok does not need seasoning when only used with that induction burner on low and medium heat. @Balthazar might very well be right. 

 

2 hours ago, Balthazar said:

But seriously, if I were you I'd skip seasoning the pan altogether and instead just let patina build up over time through usage and lubrication.

     

Use a steel scrubber to make the charred black center smooth and then forget it. Don't try to "erase" it all. Just smooth it down. After that, use the pan with adequate oil, as @Balthazar suggested. 

 

In any case, I apologize and admit that this "Chinese Kitchen Advisor" got scrambled egg on his face. Sorry I told you to do something that did not work. 

 

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mungouk
16 minutes ago, abcdefg said:

Sorry I told you to do something that did not work.

 

No problem at all... there are no failures, only learning!  #scientificmethod

 

Thanks everyone for your advice. At the end of the day I didn't even pay for this wok — I was given it. 

 

And if the hob can't do the job then it's no big deal. 

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abcdefg
Quote

And if the hob can't do the job then it's no big deal. 

 

 

Footnote: One combination I've always wanted to try is a concave induction burner that is hollowed out like a big bowl. It fits the curvature of a round-bottom carbon steel wok exactly and is extremely efficient for cooking fast and hot as well as less demanding tasks. These are not exotic or difficult to find; major supermarkets and appliance stores usually have them. Also not expensive.  

 

 

1790205922_concaveburner(2).thumb.PNG.827fa5a45c2016583f39f779ed45ce03.PNG

These are sometimes referred to as a "bra hob" 胸罩形状 and may come paired with a flat induction burner, side by side in the same appliance 双灶。 

 

 

 

 

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abcdefg

Yes, exactly. It is 凹面 (concave) and powerful.

 

I hasten to add that your wok (as pictured) has a flat bottom and would not work well with this kind of burner. 

 

1115908908_woknow-890px.thumb.jpg.a574fe09f33589e01913e433613c72cf.jpg

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Balthazar
50 minutes ago, abcdefg said:

Footnote: One combination I've always wanted to try is a concave induction burner that is hollowed out like a big bowl. It fits the curvature of a round-bottom carbon steel wok exactly and is extremely efficient for cooking fast and hot as well as less demanding tasks.

 

Brilliant! Haven't seen these before. Although I guess you would need to find pans that fit perfectly for this to work (unless you want to limit yourself to the pan that's included with the burner).

 

I actually really wish we could have a gas stove at home. Yes, induction is really fast compared to electric ceramic stovetops (which is what we had previously), but you also need to be careful when cooking not to bang the pans too hard down (that's true for the flat electric stovetops too, of course) and to not scratch the surface when moving them around (especially with heavy cast iron pans). For wokking and any other cooking styles with lots of movement, it's really hard to beat gas. Might just get one of those portable Iwatani butane stoves at some points, for balcony/park cooking in the summer...

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abcdefg
7 hours ago, Balthazar said:

I actually really wish we could have a gas stove at home.

 

Agree with you about that. In China these last few years I've used gas and it was a pleasure to fry with a wok. Now I'm in Texas and trying to get reacquainted with an older "naked  coil" electric cooktop. It cooks slow and uneven, despite a new aluminum pan. 

 

The one thing that was difficult in China was stewing something slowly for a long time on low heat. The gas burner tended to cook too hot. 

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Those small portable burners work fine for frying. The advantage isn't just the quick heat and flame control, but the ability to further fine tune by lifting the wok up and away a bit from the fire.

 

Not to pretend these put out the same amount of heat as the burners used in a professional kitchen, though.

 

And they might be banned in a Chinese dorm.

 

Also need to keep a nearby window open to avoid CO poisoning. Don't want to lose a valued poster, or two.

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  • 3 weeks later...
mungouk
On 12/20/2020 at 6:06 PM, mungouk said:

an aluminium wok on an induction hob isn't going to work...

 

IKEA have just launched some new woks (at least they have in China), including this teflon/aluminium one that they say works on an induction hob:

 

https://www.ikea.cn/cn/en/p/silverlax-wok-with-lid-non-stick-coating-40494797/

 

129453338_silverlaxwok.thumb.png.e568da97be4d87820ec1b31618601644.png

 

That had me scratching my head for a few minutes, but looking at the description of materials, it turns out that silver disc on the bottom is made of steel.

 

 

 

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abcdefg

That sounds ideal for your situation, at least for most everyday cooking (low to medium heat, maybe medium-high -- not screaming hot.) I was not aware of this cookware line (Silverlax.) 

 

On 1/19/2021 at 8:22 PM, mungouk said:

That had me scratching my head for a few minutes, but looking at the description of materials, it turns out that silver disc on the bottom is made of steel.

 

It's as though they have incorporated a "converter disc" into the base of a coated aluminum pan. Very smart. 

https://www.magneticcooky.com/best-induction-cookware-converter-disks/ 

 

The ad says it comes in 28 cm and 32 cm sizes. I've always found the 32 cm size to be easier to use, even when cooking for one, because food is less likely to spill over the sides, especially when stirring and shaking the pan at the same time. The larger wok sometimes takes a little longer to heat, but aluminum has such excellent heat transfer that this is not a practical limitation. 

 

Tip for using non-stick pans of this type (Teflon coating) is to wipe them out with a little oil just before using. They aren't really "non-stick" -- they are actually "low-stick" and a little oil helps them stay slick, helps them do a good job of releasing food easily as it cooks. 

 

I could not find any reviews for Ikea Silverlax. Seems to be new in the west as well as in China. Hope you give it a try and let us know how it goes.

 

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  • 2 months later...
Balthazar

Just posting this to let you know that I can now empathize more with @mungouk about seasoning on induction.

 

I had originally given up on the idea of wokking at home, because of the limitations of electrical/induction for this kind of cooking. But with lockdown, boredom and time, I decided to give it another shot and got myself a carbon steel wok a couple days ago (from Mauviel’s M'Steel series, the only locally available option).

 

Planned to season it in the oven as I do with my cast-iron pans, but because the the handle is so long it barely fit in (touching both the bottom and ceiling of my oven). So after a single and brief oven-seasoning, I tried my luck with the induction cooktop instead, following the manufacturer’s simple instructions (warming the pan up to medium heat, adding oil, warming the oil for five minutes, shutting off the heat, spreading the oil thinly out). Didn’t really do much at all in terms of visible changes. So I decided to just start cooking with it.

 

It’s been working much better than I had feared! The two big keys seem to be to avoid overcrowding the pan and to really take your time to let the pan heat slowly. My cooktop goes from 1 to 9 with increments of 0.5. I usually start off at 1,5 for ten minutes or so, and then do increments of 0.5 each five minutes. At around 4 the pan is usually plenty warm to start cooking. It's worked great for everything I’ve thrown at it to far, from simple pork-and-veggie stir-fries, to mapo dofu, to yesterday’s garlic noodles (first time cooking it, great “comfort food” that’s really easy to make), no issues with food sticking. Post-cleaning I slowly heat it to about 2-2.5 on my cooktop, add a small amount of oil and rub it out, same treatment as my cast iron.

 

 

 

20210330_171017.thumb.jpg.c3f98c7b3ca9c19e289c3df4ac906337.jpg

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abcdefg

That is a handsome iron teapot in your wok photo! I've never had one of those, though I've seen them in use. 

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Balthazar

Hah, good eye! :mrgreen:

 

It's actually a tetsubin, so for boiling water, and not a teapot ("tetsu kyusu", those are usually glazed on the inside and don't perform very well imo)

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