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Necessity - Then Convert - Updated
on March 13, 2011
I swear by gas stoves. Wouldn't buy a house that didn't have gas. It was my ONLY show-stopper condition when we were house shopping. I was flexible on everything but that.
I cooked A LOT. The only reason I bought an induction cooktop was because I wore out both sides of the inserts on my [brand name] gas cooktop (they rusted to bits from constant use) and since I wanted time before I decided what my replacement would be, I ordered one of these to tide us over. We had the grill insert, so with one "burner" and a double grill, I'd have time to think.
I was shocked at how great the Duxtop induction cooktop was. I was a tough sell, but they won me over.
Water (for pasta) came to boil faster than my gas stove ever did. Peanut oil, for frying chicken, was also ready faster than anything I'd ever experienced with gas, and it stayed hot (I burned the first batch!). It has also been marvelous for wok cooking, and that's what made me a total convert. I've had to learn how to cook with it, but that hasn't been too difficult, since the results have been worth it.
The heat is so hot that I ruined a wok with a non-stick coating and had to go for the old-fashioned, steel kind instead. I like that! You'd think that would have turned me off of induction cooking, but just the reverse. Stir fry is SUPPOSED to be hot and quick (that's how you get cooked through veggies that maintain their color). I spent $25 on an all steel Wok at the cooking store with the initials W&S, and I've been making the best stir fry to ever come out of my kitchen. If for no other reason, getting one of these cooktops is worth it just for that (just don't use your non-stick coated wok with it--it WILL get too hot). Be sure to buy a wok with a flat bottom, and it has to be steel, of course, or the induction won't recognize it, and it won't turn on.
I was enjoying all of this so much, I ordered a second Duxtop cooktop, exactly like the first one.
The other thing that's been fun is cooking wherever I want in the kitchen (or where there is an outlet). There's a nice spot, right next to the sink, where there's great light in the kitchen. This is where it has been best to stir fry, near the sink (as I don't have a pot filler tap next to my stove), and having water close to a steel wok for quick rinsing between dishes is a good idea. No problem if I spill a bit, and it is close to where I've cut all the veggies. No walking back and forth to the stove. (Made me realize even more how badly laid out my kitchen is--as if my husband needed me to have more of a reminder of that!)
All of this has made me rethink my stove replacement. Maybe I don't need to do anything other than buy a replacement drop-in for the exact same cooktop I already have, and continue using the Duxtop Cooktops, as I'm using them now. Maybe we should all rethink how we cook in our kitchens, eh? Some of us have multiple sinks and dishwashers now. Why not multiple cooktops, in different cooking zones?
And no, I'm not a shill for Duxtop. It just makes sense to think about cooking zones in the same way we're thinking about other zones in our kitchens.
This is not to say I'm a total convert to electric cooking. It still has its downsides, as always. I can't scramble eggs with it without burning them or overcooking (or anything that requires medium or subtle heat, or with copper bottom pans--which is unfortunate), but induction cooking does bring something to the party that ordinary electric cooking never had: Higher, quicker heat. Did I say quick? I mean IMMEDIATE! Electric cooking is always going to have the same problem of hot zones that it always had, and these are not going to solve that problem. With gas heat (especially with copper bottom pans) the heat spread is even, and spreads evenly up the sides of the pan, covering the bottom. With electric, the heat is going to be hotter where there is a coil. Induction improves on that a bit, because there are no coils, but there is still a cooking center. (I found that if I move the pan so that it doesn't have a chance to get too hot in any one place, I burn the food less.) All of this takes practice and experience. I'm sure that people who have more experience with electric cooking burn food on gas stoves, so it is what you are used to--so this isn't a magic bullet, but it is certainly better than the old-fashioned coils. But, as I said, the speed at which you can boil, or bring heat to other dishes is well worth the learning curve, where it wasn't worth it before.
These cooktops have two methods of setting the temp: either a numeric setting of 1 to 10 or a kind of high/medium/low, but in a setting of 1 to 4 (I think, I never use that setting). I prefer the 1 to 10 setting (giving the greatest control). I set to 10 when I want to bring water to boil, but then quickly change the setting to about 3 to keep things boiling, and 2 to maintain a simmer (for things like sauces), or 1 to keep things warm.
It's my belief that every house needs at least one of these. They're handy for parties (when you need an extra burner), for emergengies (if the gas stove breaks), they'll be great for the summer for boiling corn (take it outside and put near the grill), and there is no way to get this kind of high heat for stir fry or quick boiling without upgrading your gas pipe to 3/4".
You don't have to be as crazy as me and buy two, but at these prices, it isn't as crazy as it sounds. Party, table cooking (for shish kabap or steak on "stone") will be great this summer too.
I'd recommend these to anyone... and I'd recommend two. Just avoid buying the interface disks (the products sold so you can use pans other than steel). Those ARE a waste of time. They don't work (they get too hot, causing the cooktops to shut off). Spend your money on a few extra steel pans instead... because you can't have too many pans EVER.
UPDATE 2/2012: I've had these a year now. I continue to use them, meaning they haven't ended up in the dead/bored appliance part of the pantry. Most of the time I keep one by the stove (that I still haven't fixed) and one by the sink. I'll move them around, as needed. I'm still not a very good electric-stove chef, but they continue to work, as advertised. If the food doesn't turn out properly, the fault is definitely with me. They were a saving grace during the Holidays: 3 burners were enough to get us through Thanksgiving and Christmas. The advice above, to allow the pan to warm up a bit (to setting 5) before blasting it (at setting 10) has prevented other non-stick pans from losing their non-stick coating, and having it flake off on the food. Not a good thing at all.