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501 of 516 people found the following review helpful
on February 28, 2005
Like all tools in the kitchen, this one has the exact qualities that make it a phenomenal wok that's representative of CAST IRON cookware.

A. It's heavy cast iron, which means it retains heat exceptionally well. Because of the high thermal mass, you'll have to be patient as the wok takes a few minutes to heat up while on the stove. After it heats up, you'll be rewarded with long-lasting high temperature heat (if desired... it's really for you to control... steady medium or low is very attainable, too) perfect for doing restaurant-style stir-frying at home. That is, you can toss food in the pan without worrying that the pan will cool off and boil/steam your food with the escaping moisture. Searing on the home stove is well within this wok's capabilities. All of this just requires patience.

B. It's a wok, which means that the heat is concentrated at the bottom and tapers off going up the sides. You control how you cook your food by where you situate it relative to the bottom/center. The non-slippery surface of the wok makes this possible, since you can slide food up the sides to reduce the amount of heat it gets exposed to, and the food will stay, rather than fall back down to the bottom, like a teflon-based non-stick surface.

C. It's pre-seasoned, so it's fairly non-stick. I have yet to experience having anything completely stick to it while cooking, whether it's coated meat, stir-fry, vegetables, or egg scrambles.

Because it's heavy cast-iron, you get all these benefits that you don't find with the typical woks you see in the marketplace. Compared to traditional woks, this is not one that you'll be handling while you're cooking. Once it heats up, it gets hot... real hot... including the handles. You'll be scooping food out of it rather than pouring food from the wok to a plate, and you'll be leaving it on the stove over dinner until the thing cools down enough to handle. BE CAREFUL! (wouldn't want anyone to experience any nasty surprises)

Also, since it's cast iron, this piece of cookware requires a bit more TLC than your ordinary anodized aluminum/teflon-coated cookware. You won't be washing this with soap, rather Lodge recommends hot water and a stiff brush, and you'll need to keep it dry and seasoned (rubbed with oil) when you're storing it. It's a bit of extra work, but to me, it's completely worth it as even quality teflon-coated pans will wear out far sooner than well cared for cast iron cookware.

At the end of the day, I still use my anodized aluminum/teflon-coated cookware when what I'm cooking calls for it. I reach for my cast iron pieces to do the job they're best suited for... anytime I need steady heat, high temperature cooking, and/or searing capability. It's just a matter of using the right tool for the right job.

Honestly, I'm so glad Lodge makes affordable cast iron cookware. I've been wanting to pick-up some cast-iron pieces for a while. Until I found Lodge via Amazon.com, I have always turned away disappointed when I see how much Le Creuset costs at retail stores. Thanks, Lodge & Amazon.com!
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377 of 387 people found the following review helpful
Unless you have a professional quality cooktop (Garland, Wolf, etc.), the typical American stove does not produce enough BTUs to properly heat the traditional rolled steel wok. No matter how long you heat it, it will cool too quickly and the food will boil instead of sear.

However, a pre-heated (I give it at least 10 or 15 minutes) cast iron wok holds on to enough heat to enable you to properly stir-fry. And cleaning is not that bad. After removing the food throw in a cup or two of very hot water and scrub with a stiff, non-nylon (it melts) kitchen brush (a grill brush is ideal). Pour out the dirty water (ok, this is a trick because of the weight), put it back on the heat to boil off any excess moisture, and wipe it with an oiled paper towel and let cool.

By the way, if you like to deep fry, a cast iron wok runs circles around most any fry rig and requires less oil. In fact, deep frying is a great way to season or re-season the wok.

If you want a wok with less maintenance, anodized aluminum (Calphalon, Circulon, Analon, et al) is really your only other choice. It does not sear quite as well because it does not have the same heat retention, but it does a good job because it is so thermally conductive liquid evaporates before it can pool. It works especially well with vegetables and white meats. A little hot water, dishwashing liquid, and a scrubby sponge is all you need.
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77 of 81 people found the following review helpful
on June 10, 2006
I have, over several months, been building my arsenal of cooking pots and pans from Lodge's extensive line of castiron cookware. I have absolutely no complaints with any of their offerings. As I aquire more castiron ware, my other inferior cookware goes into the garage sale box. The only cookware I will retain are a couple of stainless steel pots for boiling such things as noddles. Otherwise, all my cooking is done in castiron. Maintenance is easy despite what others may tell you.

As a matter of fact, I have my wok and a small skillet "reseasoning" on my gas BBQ grill as I write this. I only need to give this stuff a quick scrub under hot water, spray it down or rub it with a little cooking oil and warm it a bit to dry. Castiron will not discolour as does stainless steel. Castiron will not give off harmfull gasses as will teflon coated cookware when over heated. Castiron will give you even heating unlike stainless steel with its "Hot-spots".

There are no fussy care instructions like that for expensive anodized alluminum cookware. Castiron is very forgiving if you should abuse it. Just clean with steel wool and reseason according to instructions.

Sometimes, I think that the old ways of the old days were much more healthier and easier than the new days of corporations trying to find that next "best thing" gimmic that will make them billionaires without regard to what their products can really do whether harmfull or convenient.

Honestly, nothing cooks as evenly or as well as castiron in my opinion. Follow all the cookware use and maintenance instructions and you will be truly rewarded by its cooking abilities and ease of care.

Here's a tip: If you want a truly non-stick surface and the fine black patina of well aged castiron cookware in short order, save your bacon fat, refrigerate it and use it for seasoning your castiron.
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73 of 77 people found the following review helpful
on June 5, 2008
I recently bought this wok after having taken a Thai Culinary Class in Thailand. I needed a wok to produce authentic Thai food. I was a little hesitant to buy this wok since there was no mention in the description or in the reviews about the bottom of the wok. Most woks that have a rounded bottom come with a ring so that it will sit on your cooktop. Thai kitchens assume that everyone has a round bottom wok and the cooktops are fitted to accomodate that. Not so here in the US (unless you buy the wok ring attachment for your Viking stovetop). The wok itself is round on the inside but flat on the bottom, so no issue there. It works nicely on the cooktop. I use this wok for everything. It stays out all the time, whether I'm sauteeing vegetables or creating a stir fry. Its very heavy, and therefore heats up nicely and retains the heat, perfect for whatever you're cooking. It cleans up easily with just hot water and a scrub brush. I would definitely recommend that you buy the wok spatula to go with it, there is a very nice one on Amazon thats stainless steel with a wooden handle. The spatula is curved so that it conforms exactly to the inside curve of the wok. You just can't beat cast iron for cooking!!! I've had many woks, electric ones as well. None can compare to this one!
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115 of 127 people found the following review helpful
on March 9, 2008
I bought mine at the Lodge Outlet store in Tennessee this winter and paid $35.

Before that, I'd scored a LeCreuset 14" wok on ebay. I was heartbroken when it fell off the top of my fridge, broke against the edge of the dishwasher -- and I was nearly broken-footed, too. Buying the LeCreuset wok was the end of 2 years of research and planning. I am a very serious ex-pro caterer, and I don't let junk in my kitchen. Most of my cookware is Chantal or LeCreuset; I like the really good stuff.

I was skeptical that a >$50 wok could stand up to the memory of that beloved piece of cookware -- and now do I feel like a sucker for having spent so much on it in the first place! This wok soaks up heat, is bigger than the LeCreuset, and does a beautiful job of stir and deep frying. It is totally nonstick as long as you use safflower oil and know what you are doing -- I heat the wok for 15 minutes on a high burner, then put in my oil seconds before I put in my prepped food. Cleanup is a snap -- if anything does stick, I just scour it with steel wool -- no useless ceramic or enamel coatings, just cast iron.

Cast iron, seasoned right, will clean easily without soap. If you can't deal with not using soap, go back to using T-Fal nonstick.... NEVER use soap on this pan -- it's a sin against nature. Little pores in the iron bond with oil in the "seasoning" process, and soap ruins them (and gives food a soapy taste if it gets in the pores). This wok's pre-seasoning is really impressive, though I did oil it thoroughly before I used it, because I am a geek.

I would pay $100 for this wok if I had to; the LeCresuet costs $179 at the outlet, $239 reatil. The Amazon price for this one is a steal.

I am also going back to that outlet in Tennessee with more money next time -- Lodge has an enameled line of cookware that's pretty -- but I'm a convert to real cast iron.

PS I also bought their 2 burner griddle at Target -- again, why buy LeCreuset's for 3 times the price? Griddles can warp over time, no matter how nice they are, so I didn't want to pay that much. The Lodge product is comparable to superior!
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135 of 150 people found the following review helpful
on July 27, 2005
So I've had a dozen or so WOKs but none that hold the heat so well and cook so evenly. I use it mainly on the gas burner with the high heats, where all the others just don't do well at all, and am thoroughly impressed by it.

The flat bottom does justice when on a traditional electric range and is just as effective in cooking.

I wouldn't buy any other WOK after getting this one, unless of course I need a second duplicate one.
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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on November 14, 2012
UPDATE: After living and using this wok for a couple of months, I really do prefer the thin walled Chinese cast iron flat bottom wok (with the black enamel exterior), sold by The Wokshop. It's much thinner and lighter than the Lodge, but still has enough cast iron heft so that it can get very hot (and much faster than the Lodge), and do a much better job of holding the heat than carbon steel; it also holds more food than the Lodge, and cools off much faster when removed from the heat than the Lodge. Ideally the Lodge is best suited for stir fry newbies who have never owned or used any wok, and can therefore get used to the Lodge much faster. But if you have had experience with carbon steel woks--with fast and easy temperature changes, and most importantly are used to thickening sauces with cornstarch, the Chinese made thin walled cast iron Wokshop wok is much more ideal for you, and gives you the best of all worlds! Although the Chinese cast iron must be used only on high for electrical stoves (but can easily do a good stir fry at a constant 500F-600F).
__________________________________________________________________________________________________

I am very "wok experienced" and can recommend this heavy cast iron wok for most American users who want sir fries over high heat and don't want to setup (or cannot) an outdoor wok burner. As other reviews will tell you, this wok is big and heavy and will hold a lot of residual heat that will allow you to stir-fry at constant temps over 450F, even when adding a pound of meat, or 4 cups of vegetables, or when you have both in the wok. On most American stoves, carbon steel woks just loose too much heat, and then bog down trying to heat back up with all the food in the wok. Yes, this wok is big and heavy and "anti-Asian" in nature, but that is what makes it so successful for most American users and their weakly powered stove-tops. Almost all American burners aren't capable of doing intense stir fries as done at good Chinese restaurants (at over 600F), but this wok helps helps more than it hinders--quite the opposite of thinner carbon steel woks.

This wok is, however, a pain in many respects, to live with. Once it gets hot enough for a rip roarin' stir fry, you have to be careful about your sauce. If you make a traditional cornstarch slurry, or a sauce with a cornstarch thickener, watch out as it can and probably will burn and bubble and stick to wok, and you'll lose a lot of your sauce, giving you a drier and different than you planned stir fry, and it may pick up some burnt or "roasted starch" flavors also unexpected. I have experimented with removing the wok from the stove and letting it cool a bit as I finish the stir fry on the counter, before adding the sauce so it won't burn. And while this can work, it takes a lot of experimenting and fooling around and is honestly a PITA...

A lot of my wok experience is with a 50K BTU propane wok burner, used outside with my carbon steel POW woks (single handle, tossing food around a lot), and this Lodge wok is not as good as my outdoor 50K BTU burner, but is better than most wimpy American stoves. I still get a certain burnt iron taste if the wok gets too hot (600F+), but if you have no outdoor space, this may be your only option for high heat stir fries indoors. Keeping this wok around 500F really helps it to preform ideally. Also, this may get better as the seasoning ages--it takes at least a year for cast iron or carbon steel to get seasoned well, maybe sooner if you use it daily. While heating or cooking, if you see the very bottom "hot" area start to get dull in color and is void of any oil slickness, back off on the heat--you're too hot!

This wok does has a learning curve, particularly if like me you have a lot of carbon steel experience. It takes a while to heat up (5-15 minutes), and then you have to stir-fry quickly, as the food will cook quickly (but not burn like in thinner carbon steel woks over high, high heat). I even remove the wok from the burner completely about a minute or two before adding my sauce at the end--most often the wok is SO HOT, the sauce instantly starts to boil vigorously and stick and burn to the wok (but rinses right off at cleanup). Sometimes this isn't so good for the sauce, and the overcooked/burnt sauce creates some taste issues--I have had some bad stir-fries when this wok gets over 550F (which is not true outside with the carbon steel woks). This wok is heavy, but most people will be able to lift it. You cannot shake it at all, tossing food around, like most carbon steel woks, so a good wok spatula is a must to keep the food moving around. Unlike some of the other reviews here, I can easily pick the wok up by the handles with my bare hands, even at hight heat; I don't need oven-mitts, but I tend to have asbestos fingers...!

I seasoned well beyond Lodge's "pre-seasoning", and after about 12 additional coats and a few first stir-fries, the wok is very non-stick and cleans easily with hot water and a sponge. Easy, easy care. Recommend this if you have had problems with stir fries (particularly on electric coil stoves), and stir-stewing rather than stir-frying, and you don't have access to the outdoors for stir-frying. It isn't perfect, but if you keep your temps around 500F, you can make some great stir fries, and it's certainly better than struggling with thin carbon steel.

A great kitchen tool to get to be used with this wok to keep your temps at the ideal 500F is a infrared laser thermometer gun (also great for everything from checking your oven to candy making to measuring the temp of oil in pans). You can get these thermometer guns cheaply on Ebay, or here on Amazon.
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66 of 72 people found the following review helpful
on February 8, 2009
Bought this wok to replace several generations of non-stick woks whose non-stick coatings have been consistently degrading over time. Knowing the health risks of the non-sticks, I looked around and found this seasoned cast iron wok. First impression is that this is a generational wok, that with its solid construction, this is a wok that you could pass down to your children and grandchildren as long as the instructions regarding cleaning and maintaining the seasoning are followed. The only negative is that this is a fairly heavy wok so I end up washing this wok every time as my wife insists that it is too heavy for her to handle. As per a previous review this wok will sit on your standard sink so it is easy to spray with water and scrub clean. However, it is still fairly heavy and if your cooking needs are limited, I would suggest you downgrade to a smaller diameter cast iron wok. Going one size down will also help you be able to use all of your burners on a standard 4 burner stove as with a wok this wide it will take out of action another one of your burners.
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44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on July 12, 2010
I love this wok! I will refrain from duplicating many of the positives about this wok but I will add a couple of additional comments from H. U. "Cooking Enthusiast's" great review.

1) Because this wok stays very hot "after" the food is cooked and the burner is turned off it is important to remove your food quickly so that food is not over cooked. This style of wok is a favorite of Cantonese home cooks but the Lodge is thicker and heavier than the traditional cast iron pan of the far east and therefor will over cook your food if you are unaware of this feature. I usually have plates waiting to load rice and ladle contents from the wok the moment food is finished - five minutes can make the difference from perfectly cooked vegetables and an over cooked mess - so be prepared to dish up immediately!

2) I have a restaurant range with high btu's and it still takes a while to heat this pan up to the correct temps. Just test with a drop of water to see if the water sizzles.

3) Always add cold oil to the hot pan when ready to cook thus eliminating your oil reaching the smoking stage thereby destroying the quality of the oil, changing the taste and emitting toxins. Use only oils with a high smoke point like corn, peanut, pure olive oil, sesame, soybean, safflower, almond, rice bran or avocado.

4) It is okay to use a little dish soap to clean but rinse well, heat on the stove to dry and then coat with a minimal amount of good oil all over the pan's insides (and sometimes the bottom) and store with a paper towel inside if stacking other pans on top of it or just to keep dust from adhering to the surface.

5) I personally use peanut oil most of the time whether cooking in this wok or one of my carbon steel woks. Sometimes I will use coconut oil if I'm cooking shrimp which imparts a wonderful flavor to the shrimp and veggies.

6) If you are new to stir-frying I cannot recommend highly enough the book "Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge" by Grace Young where every question you've ever had about stir-frying will be answered (see my review).

I highly recommend this wok and like H.U. says "the right tool for the right job" and you'll be happy with the results. Enjoy!
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on September 19, 2005
All things considered, the Lodge, Iron Wok, is everything I want in a useful, beautiful, durable, cooking tool. The perfict addition to our pro Garland range. This wok, "wo(r)ks" and hasn't left the burner, except for the quick hot water rinse, in the month or so we've had it. Why would we hide it? If I was stranded in our "tropical desert home" with only one pan/pot/skillet, this iron wok would more than foot the bill. Thank you for the oppertunity. Mark
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