Customer Review

120 of 133 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Can not replace a traditional Chinese wok, June 26, 2004
This review is from: All-Clad Stainless 12-Inch Chef's Pan (Kitchen)
I bought this pan four years ago and planed to use it as an everyday wok, mainly to make stir-fry dishes. After years of use, I finally have to admit that it is not a good replacement for a traditional Chinese wok. However, I still like it overall. It has even heat distribution, versatile, sturdy, easy to clean, well-made, and looks nice.
If you are looking for a stir-fry wok, don¡t get this pan and choose a traditional carbon steel wok instead. One major disadvantage of this Chef¡s Pan is that it cannot reach the high temperature required to make tasty Chinese stir-fry dishes. If you preheat it for 3-5 minutes, add some cooking oil and then food, the pan quickly cools down. You end up boiling the food instead of stir-frying it. The essence of Chinese stir-fry is to cook food at very high temperature in order to seal the juice in the food. Boiling removes the juice along with the flavor from the food. A traditional wok, made of either carbon steel or cast iron, can reach the high temperature required for stir-fry dishes.
A traditional carbon steel wok is very cheap and can last a life time if cared properly. The downside is that it can rust easily if not cared properly. (I prefer the type without the nonstick coating because the Teflon nonstick coating won¡t last long under high heat, and it will eventually disintegrate and get into the food.) You MUST season a traditional wok before using it the first time. Seasoning the wok builds a brown-black patina on the interior that makes it non-stick and also prevents rust. After cooking, wash the wok with hot water only (No detergent !), wipe dry with paper towel, and then heat it on stove to remove any moisture on the wok. Do not soak it in sink after cooking or you will regret. I don¡t use my carbon steel wok to boil food and never use it to steam, as they may damage the patina. Scouring the wok or washing it with detergent will also damage the patina. So avoid scouring or you will need to re-season it afterwards.
Overall, I like All-Clad¡s Stainless Steel line of cookware. I have several other pieces besides this 12¡ Chef¡s Pan. All of them are great and I won¡t trade them for other cookware. But I have a traditional Chinese wok just to make stir-fry dishes. If you are looking for a stir-fry wok, you can get a 14¡ carbon steel wok (no Teflon coating) from Target or Asian food store under $20.
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Tracked by 4 customers

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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 1, 2009 9:59:05 AM PST
This is a very good review. My experiences are the same as the reviewer. I don't use my pan often because of the stated problems and use a cheep carbon wok instead. Save your money. Get an All Clad saute pan and carbon Wok instead.

Posted on Apr 26, 2011 1:51:16 PM PDT
C. Elkins says:
I gave up my traditional wok, oh, 20 years ago; then in the early 90s my mom bought me an enamel coated one that I didn't like but used anyway because, well, you know, it was from my mom. I haven't cooked Chinese in so many years I came here to look at what's available now, and at reviews. Thanks for sharing your experience. Now I know what I want--just a good 'ole carbon steel wok, and as with my really old iron skillet, I will season it properly. ~ Carolyn Elkins

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 13, 2013 8:02:56 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 13, 2013 8:05:19 PM PST
Wayne Fogel says:
Your analysis, while convincing on the surface, leaves out a critical factor - the heat source. Cooking involves both a cooking vessel and a source of heat for that vessel. Wok cooking uses a thin (low thermal energy retention) pan and an extremely strong heat source - typically a 50,000 to 100,000 btu rating. This enables the wok to rapidly reheat after each ingredient is added.

Western cooking reverses the wok cooking paradigm. Instead of a high heat sources and a pan with little thermal retention, a comparatively low powered heat source is coupled with a pan with a large amount of thermal energy retention. All-Clad achieves this by sandwiching a layer of aluminum between two stainless steel layers. The stored energy is what allows the pan to cook a steak without a precipitous temperature drop. Most western gas stoves have a maximum thermal output of approximately 12,000 btu's per hour and the very best (GE Monogram, Viking, etc) an output of 20,000 btu's per hour. This does not approach the heat required for traditional wok cooking.

Electric stovetops are not compatible with traditional wok cooking. The best compromise for stir-frying here is to use the pan the heat source was designed for - a heavy pan that can retain a great deal of thermal energy. This Chef's Pan is good for that application. I prefer a high side saute pan or dutch oven that has a bottom coinciding with the size of the burner (gas or electric). The All-Clad 3 quart saute pan or 8 quart Dutch oven work nicely.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 22, 2013 8:02:58 AM PDT
carl lian says:
The post from Wayne Fogel makes an important point --- the source of heat and the cooking vessel needs to be considered as a team. I am using an ordinary GE electric range, and with a carbon steel wok it is difficult to maintain high enough temperatures for stir frying as ingredients are added to the wok. While a 14 pound Staub enameled cast iron wok is certainly not traditional, the large thermal mass makes it possible to build and sustain high temperatures for stir frying as food is added. The big disadvantage of this high thermal mass is that the wok takes a long time to cool when you reduce the heat. So you need to be very careful not to build up too much heat. But even on a wimpy electric range it is possible to build and sustain the cooking temperature needed to stir fry. Unfortunately there is no easy way to get a 50,000+ btu heat source in the home kitchen.

Posted on Sep 5, 2013 2:58:34 AM PDT
Yau-Jang Lee says:
Can someone tell me how to season the wok? Use oil or something to season it? Thanks!

In reply to an earlier post on May 16, 2014 11:35:49 AM PDT
Joseph Hsieh says:
Thanks, your comments helped a lot.

Posted on Feb 19, 2015 7:42:49 AM PST
Karen M says:
I have the All Clad non-stick 10-inch wok, I am able to achieve hot stir-fry with relative "wok air" effect with an induction cooktop. Hope this helps.
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