Thanks ahead of time.
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Any experience using an all clad SS wok?
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You want a fairly steep temperature gradient going from the bottom to the top of the wok. You also want to be able to set the temperature quickly, without waiting for a heavy pan to warm up. Then there are the stick/non-stick qualities of stainless and carbon.
If "yucky" bothers you, go ahead and clean your carbon steel wok all the way down, with oven cleaner for instance, and simply reseason it. You can do it as often as you like.
If you really and truly need a new wok, try and find a carbon, round bottom wok with a stove ring which will work for you. I just bought a 17", stubby handled, monster for $20. Assuming you have to spend twice as much, the saved difference between your new carbon and an All-Clad will allow you to purchase some really cool wok small-tools, and a great Chinese meal to inspire you, with money left over.
As BDL notes, there is a specialized heat-gradient involved in wok cookery. Neither stainless nor cast iron (the only other material I've seen) work for this.
I've had an All-Clad chef's pan (basically a flat-bottomed wok; this is the closest you can get now) with a stainless-steel interior for more than a dozen years, and it works fine as a wok. And it's much easier to clean and care for than my carbon steel wok. In fact, my experience has been the opposite of what's been stated above: I've had things burn in the wok that cook just fine in the All-Clad, because the wok overheats in spots while the A-C is more even. (Frankly, I think they're confusing straight stainless steel -- which is terrible for cooking, very uneven -- with the multilayeried A-C.)
I'll be using my A-C pan tonight to stir-fry some rice noodles and vegetables.
I don't doubt the accuracy of your reporting or your experience with carbon and multi-ply woks even though it is not the same as mine. I much prefer to wok, whether high heat or medium-high heat in a carbon steel wok with a round bottom -- because of the hotter bottom and cooler sides. And I can't even imagine how you can do "passing through" with a flat bottom pan -- no matter how round the sides. No doubt there are workarounds.
Clearly, the lesson to be drawn from our differing conclusions is that other things are more important to producing good food than the identity of the equipment.
On a standard US stove, woks don't really perform to their potential and you can do a decent job in other pan types. Grace Young, who argues strongly for a flat bottomed carbon wok, goes into good detail on adapting stir fry technique to these wimpy US stoves.
On one episode, Americas test kitchen displayed an interesting graph of how a wok heats on US stoves on average compared to their 12" non-stick skillet. From memory, the skillet got up around 400 and dropped to 275 with a SLOW rise there after. The wok got hotter (450) faster but dropped down around boiling and stayed there.
I credit it that to ATK overloading the wok with regards to the power of the heat source. That is one of the major adaptations you must make for good stir fry on domestic equipment. But it is also the reason ATK just sticks with a 12" non-stick pan because they simplify. Too much simplification in my opinion for the impact on the results.
Stainless and clad stainless are just anti-thetical to the principles of good stir fry.
Sure, you'll see Ming Tsai use them on his PBS show, but that's because All-Clad sponsors the show and wants their products on display and use. But in his restaurant, Ming uses carbon steel woks. Grace Young has a picture of him pounding out the carbon steel wok that was deformed from the high heat and heavy use.
A good Stainless Steel cleaner works wonders. I use Langoustina Stainless Steel and Copper Cleaner. It is a powder in a shaker (like Comet - but not abrasive.) I use my non scratch scouring pads (for my glass top stove) with the Lagostina cleaner and the results are brilliant on all stainless steel. I had a saucepan left on the heat with residual vegetable oil and it made a sticky solid mess. This cleaner made my pan shiny like new.
- Any experience using an all clad SS wok?
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