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CanadianHomeChef

Stir Frying in Stainless Steel

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I have held back from commenting here, because I just don't understand what is happening.

After 23 years years living in a country that perhaps knows a thing or two about woks and stir frying, I've never seen a stainless steel example. Perhaps, for good reason.

They have stainless steel, but not for woks.

 

And "I'm having a stir-fry for dinner" makes as much sense in Chinese as "I'm having a cooking for dinner".

 

 


Edited by liuzhou (log)

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13 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

After 23 years years living in a country that perhaps knows a thing of two about woks and stir frying, I've never seen a stainless steel example. Perhaps, for good reason.
  

I bow to you on all things Chinese but I need to ask: how many Chinese homes are equipped with a flat top electric or induction range?

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2 minutes ago, Anna N said:

I bow to you on all things Chinese but I need to ask: how many Chinese homes are equipped with a flat top electric or induction range?

 

Almost everyone cooks on gas, but in the last ten years most also have electric portable induction cookers for hot pots. These are sometimes used with woks (not stainless steel) but more often with stainless steel hot pot pans.

 

All I am saying is that I've never seen a stainless steel wok in China.

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I think the steel adapter may work better in theory than in practice.  Unless the curvature of the adapter EXACTLY fits that of the wok, its heat transmission will not be very good because it is transmitting heat through conduction.  Any gaps or space is dead air and is a decent insulator.

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1 hour ago, liuzhou said:

I have held back from commenting here, because I just don't understand what is happening.

After 23 years years living in a country that perhaps knows a thing or two about woks and stir frying, I've never seen a stainless steel example. Perhaps, for good reason.

They have stainless steel, but not for woks.

 

And "I'm having a stir-fry for dinner" makes as much sense in Chinese as "I'm having a cooking for dinner".

 

 

 


Stir-fry has morphed into an acceptable noun in a lot of North American dialects. Linguistically, this is known as nomilization, and stir-fry isn't the only instance of this in the English language. E.g. "A change would do you good", "The increase in crime has me worried", "The murder happened at midnight" or "French-fries/french fry instead of french-fried potatoes".   This conversion can also happen in reverse (e.g. noun --> verb :"let me Google this"). English, like any other language, is a pretty versatile and has lots of regional variation. But I get it that in Chinese it may sound very awkward. 


Edited by CanadianHomeChef (log)

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31 minutes ago, KennethT said:

I think the steel adapter may work better in theory than in practice.  Unless the curvature of the adapter EXACTLY fits that of the wok, its heat transmission will not be very good because it is transmitting heat through conduction.  Any gaps or space is dead air and is a decent insulator.


Yeah, I think you're right. Air is a poor at transmitting heat.

I'm thinking I'm going to sell this wok. It works great in terms of conducting heat, but it needs a different interior surface. I wonder if it's possible to possible to clad aluminum and carbon steel together? That would be a decent wok for induction.

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4 minutes ago, CanadianHomeChef said:


Yeah, I think you're right. Air is a poor at transmitting heat.

I'm thinking I'm going to sell this wok. It works great in terms of conducting heat, but it needs a different interior surface. I wonder if it's possible to possible to clad aluminum and carbon steel together? That would be a decent wok for induction.


Or on second thought, just thicker carbon steel? I'm no expert. 

ETA: Looked it up. Carbon steel has much lower conductivity than aluminum, so thicker would only be marginal. Still leaves me wondering if carbon steel be claded to aluminum?


Edited by CanadianHomeChef (log)

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I don't quite see the point of cladding with aluminum to cook on induction.  The purpose of cladding aluminum to SS is to even out a discrete heat source (like a gas ring) over the entire surface of the pan as quickly and evenly as possible.  But induction works differently - the magnetic field causes the pan itself to create the heat, so as long as your mag field is even, the pan's heat will be even, with no cladding necessary.  Also, if you have a powerful mag field source (that's the hob), you'd probably want the thinnest pan possible to give it the most responsive action.

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But the pan's magnetic field would only be the area that's in close contact to the induction plate . Thicker aluminum allows the heat to travel past this zone with less drop off. I've seen this with pans that have larger surface areas than the induction plate. The side walls on a wok aren't creating heat on an induction burner. But they get heat transferred from the parts of the pan that are creating the heat... no?


Edited by CanadianHomeChef (log)

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That's correct - but you typically don't want heat all the way up the side walls of a wok.  The curved induction machine you linked looked perfect for a wok - the heat would come to about the same place as it would on a traditional gas wok burner.  If you don't have a curved induction surface like that, then you need to use a flat bottomed wok otherwise you will only have a very small point of heat source - aluminum or not, it's not enough to get the heat you want.

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4 hours ago, liuzhou said:

 

Almost everyone cooks on gas, but in the last ten years most also have electric portable induction cookers for hot pots. These are sometimes used with woks (not stainless steel) but more often with stainless steel hot pot pans.

 

All I am saying is that I've never seen a stainless steel wok in China.

 

I think the reason is that stainless steel is poor conductor of heat (most of the heat going into pure stainless steel pan will try to warp it), and as aside bonus carbon steel can get 'non-stick' patina. I've done patina (by applying horseraddish and ketchup, of all things) on one of my carbon steel knives which prevent it from rusting, but does not prevent it from imparting 'metallic' taste to food being cut.

 

I like to keep things as 'traditional' as possible, hence me trying to figure out a way to make (what I percieve to be a quintessential) wok work in an environment (heating element) not very suited to it. I'm more of a braising and simmering (european style) type of guy, but this experiment of mine is making me want to try stir-frying on electric stove (any my stove has 3 gas burners xD) just as a proof of concept.

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42 minutes ago, Wolf said:

I like to keep things as 'traditional' as possible, hence me trying to figure out a way to make (what I percieve to be a quintessential) wok work in an environment (heating element) not very suited to it.

 

When faced with electric coil-element or smooth-top US stoves, the Chinese students and post docs I worked with found standard skillets or fry pans better suited than a wok.    They occasionally used a high-power outdoor gas wok burner when cooking for larger groups and parties but stuck with the skillets for indoor, family cooking. 

In sharing recipes, they recommended that I do the same on my low-powered gas range.

 

 

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20 some years ago, when I bought my first induction hob,  one of the first induction ready pans I purchased was a saucier.  A pan which looks like a flat bottom wok with a very large flat bottom and  thick heat distribution plate. My (flat bottom) wok was my most frequently used pan. I still have the wok ring which I purchased as an add on for the gas range,.
 
After using the saucier,  the wok moved into less and less accessible storage.  Eventually I gave it to the town swap shop to find it a new home.  I have never found anything that the wok could do an the saucier not do as well or better.  (I have never had or used a high power wok burner.)
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28 minutes ago, Edward Dekker said:
20 some years ago, when I bought my first induction hob,  one of the first induction ready pans I purchased was a saucier.  A pan which looks like a flat bottom wok with a very large flat bottom and  thick heat distribution plate. My (flat bottom) wok was my most frequently used pan. I still have the wok ring which I purchased as an add on for the gas range,.
 
After using the saucier,  the wok moved into less and less accessible storage.  Eventually I gave it to the town swap shop to find it a new home.  I have never found anything that the wok could do an the saucier not do as well or better.  (I have never had or used a high power wok burner.)

 

@slkinsey might agree...

 

https://forums.egullet.org/topic/27031-updating-the-kitchen-essentials/?do=findComment&comment=458937

 

 

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I have two sauciers,  they are a 3 quart all-clad and a 2 quart Volrath.  I love those pans and use them more than any other pan I have.

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7 hours ago, CanadianHomeChef said:


Stir-fry has morphed into an acceptable noun in a lot of North American dialects. Linguistically, this is known as nomilization, and stir-fry isn't the only instance of this in the English language. E.g. "A change would do you good", "The increase in crime has me worried", "The murder happened at midnight" or "French-fries/french fry instead of french-fried potatoes".   This conversion can also happen in reverse (e.g. noun --> verb :"let me Google this"). English, like any other language, is a pretty versatile and has lots of regional variation. But I get it that in Chinese it may sound very awkward. 

 

 

Er, thanks, but I am a linguist and that wasn't my point anyway. I was in no way suggesting that the English was wrong.

 

P.S. Murder was a noun first.


Edited by liuzhou (log)
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I have had a few woks over the years.  The two I use is a cast iron wok for Curries and the el-cheapo carbon steel wok for hot stir fry.  It is light and is virtually nonstick from all the cooking that has gone on.  It is easy to clean between dishes...I use a bamboo brush and it reheats in a flash.

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Just a comment on adapter idea.

 

If you consider how conventional cooking works, the "normal" electric hob works using both conduction (the element is hot and in contact with the  pot/pan) and radiation (those parts of the hot element not in contact with the pot/pan). Gas works by a combination of convection/conduction (the hot air & gases contacting the pot/pan) and radiation (the hot parts of the gas element that are heated by the burning gases radiate to the pot pan).

The induction heating works a lot like a microwave in that the molecules of the pot/pan are directly heated by the radiation (magnetic waves). 

Now the food in the pot/pan is heated mostly by conduction of the heat from the pan to the food (in theory also a little radiation but not much once the food starts to heat).

Radiation relies on the DIFFERENCE in temperature between 2 bodies. The final temperature of the pot/pan/wok will depend on how much heat it radiates into its surrounds. It is receiving radiation from the heat source but it is also losing heat through radiation into its surrounds.

What ever material you use for the wok itself, the method of transmission of the heat will be by conduction  and radiation. What makes a wok efficient in the way its used is that the gas around heating it is VERY hot. Similarly if used over say a conventional fire (wood or charcoal) the hot gases are very hot and the radiation component is very high.

 

Back to the adapter.

For it to be efficient in heating the wok is it must make very good contact with the adapter to allow for very good conduction OR it must be VERY hot to allow good radiation.

Because radiation relies entirely on the difference in temperature, once the wok is close to the same temperature as the adapter, it will stop being heated by radiation and so will always remain at a lower temperature than the adapter.

So will it work? Of course it will BUT (there is always a but) the adapters temperature will need to be much hotter than the what the final temperature of the wok is supposed to be. My guess wold be that the adapter would need to be heated to several hundred degrees above what the wok temperature needs to be, probably close to the temperature of wood coals (from 1250F to 1800F) which will probably damage your stove. You would then control the heat of the wok by how far above the adapter you placed the wok. (that's effectively what you do with a wok over a conventional fire). That is for a conventional wok, a stainless wok transfers heat much slower so the temperature is probably needed to be even higher.

 

Instead of an adapter you could make the adapter into the shape of a wok and use it directly BUT (that dreaded but) the properties of a wok are twofold; they gain high heat rapidly but they also lose heat rapidly (the food sears but doesn't burn through, the contact point on the wok is cooled by the food/oil and the food is moved on to another hot point), but the adapter wok would not lose this heat rapidly. Any food not moved on immediately would just char.

 

You could make a flat adapter, put a layer of charcoal on it and use the induction to start & maintain the charcoal burning, but you have to deal with the hot gases & ash. Be also be great for searing steak...

 

Probably cheaper and easier to use a wok gas ring and bottled gas but that's a whole new set of problems.

 

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1 hour ago, Edward Dekker said:
20 some years ago, when I bought my first induction hob,  one of the first induction ready pans I purchased was a saucier.  A pan which looks like a flat bottom wok with a very large flat bottom and  thick heat distribution plate. My (flat bottom) wok was my most frequently used pan. I still have the wok ring which I purchased as an add on for the gas range,.
 
After using the saucier,  the wok moved into less and less accessible storage.  Eventually I gave it to the town swap shop to find it a new home.  I have never found anything that the wok could do an the saucier not do as well or better.  (I have never had or used a high power wok burner.)

Yes. I have a stainless saucier and see it as more useful than a stainless wok. Never tried stir frying in it though. 

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1 hour ago, liuzhou said:

 

Er, thanks, but I am a linguist and that wasn't my point anyway. I was in no way suggesting that the English was wrong.

 

P.S. Murder was a noun first.

 

Sorry, I misunderstood. 

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When I lived in Vancouver, years ago, stores in Chinatown sold special coils for electric ranges that were bowl-shaped to accommodate a wok. I almost bought one, but decided against it on reflection, because it wouldn't have fit every range in every rental, and I moved a lot.

 

I'd love to have a proper (ie, round bottom rather than flattened for the stovetop) wok again, but haven't been willing to invest the time or effort in searching one out. I have a couple of portable butane single-burner stoves, and would use one of those to cook on as needed.

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On 12/30/2018 at 12:43 PM, CanadianHomeChef said:


Stir-fry has morphed into an acceptable noun in a lot of North American dialects. Linguistically, this is known as nomilization, and stir-fry isn't the only instance of this in the English language. E.g. "A change would do you good", "The increase in crime has me worried", "The murder happened at midnight" or "French-fries/french fry instead of french-fried potatoes".   This conversion can also happen in reverse (e.g. noun --> verb :"let me Google this"). English, like any other language, is a pretty versatile and has lots of regional variation. But I get it that in Chinese it may sound very awkward. 

 

 

Likewise ... having a roast. A stew. A braise. 

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Many, many years ago I bought a very heavy rolled steel 14" wok at a Whole Earth Store (remember those?). It has a ring and a substantial cover and it has gotten a lot of use over the years. However, the ring doesn't often fit on the stoves I've owned and the round bottom makes it hard to put it on some of the burners. I also have a 12" flat bottom wok that I admit I use more than the larger, round-bottomed one. I once had a non-stick lightweight wok with a handle (that's very useful) that we used in our little RV, but the coating was scratched and I tossed it. I've never had any problems with sticking with either of the steel ones, probably because both of them are pretty well seasoned. I think the higher heat of wok cooking helps the food release without leaving behind a residue that has to be washed off.

 

I have a side burner on the barbecue grill that I might try one of these days. Maybe it gets hot enough to properly stir fry. Certainly my feeble little non-commercial stove hasn't been up to the task. I don't think I'll do what a neighbor did, which is to design a specialized free-standing outdoor burner specifically to prepare his favorite Thai dish. That's going a little too far IMO.

 

Nancy in Pátzcuaro

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