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Lodge 14 inch Cast Iron Wok

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There have been some comments about how the Lodge cast iron wok is not good for traditional Oriental stir frying, because you can't hold it in your hand in the manner of a lightweight wok. This is both an advantage and a disadvantage. The disadvantage is for those who want to practice stir-frying in the wok hei manner by holding the wok over a hot flame and tossing your food around. The Lodge wok is indeed too heavy for this type of cooking; its heavy iron construction requires you to cook in a different manner. However, there is a definite advantage to this wok, one that is especially apparent if you live in a typical American home with an electric stovetop or weak gas range. An average kitchen stove simply cannot produce the blasting heat required for Oriental wok hei stir frying. A light hand-held wok will not work on electric stove in particular, because you can't rest it on the coiled burners; while a wok ring will prevent a round-bottomed wok from contacting the burners on the electric range. Many American homes and apartments have this kind of stove. What can you do when you want to stir fry in a wok, but your stovetop isn't right for it?

Fortunately, this is the advantage to using the Lodge cast iron wok! As other reviews have noted, this wok has a flat bottom that lets you set it directly on the stovetop heating coil of your electric stove, allowing it to absorb a lot of heat and get very, very hot. The most important factor to consider is that a thin wok transfers its heat directly to the food, requiring a very high source of heat; while this thick, heavy iron wok retains its heat, absorbing it from the stovetop and building its temperature higher and higher as it sits there on the red-hot electric heating coil. If you let this cast iron wok sit on the electric stovetop for too long, it will actually become TOO hot for decent frying. Your oil will heat up immediately when you pour it into the wok, and it may even burst into flame – even oils with a high smoke point, such as peanut oil. Since you don't want to accidentally set your kitchen on fire, it is VERY important to remember this as you prepare to stir fry on your electric stove. Many Oriental stir fry recipes call for the wok to be set on "high heat" or on the "highest setting" of the stovetop. The heat retention properties of a heavy cast iron wok allow you to heat your wok to the proper temperature for stir frying, without turning your stovetop to its highest setting. In most instances, it is only necessary to heat up your stovetop at a setting of about 75% to 80% of maximum, or a setting of between 7 and 8 on a typical dial of 1 to 10. After between five and ten minutes, the Lodge wok will be hot enough to stir fry. Take a few drops of water on your fingers, and flick them onto the surface at the bottom of the wok. If the water sizzles and dissolves in about two seconds, the wok is hot enough for cooking. At this point, you can pour your oil into the wok, and start frying!

Wok purists bristle at the thought of using a heavy wok, because it can't be properly held in one hand in order to flip the food and keep it in constant motion. Because the wok is so heavy, you can let it sit firm on your stovetop, while repeatedly bringing your wok turner into the food to keep stirring it and moving it around the wok. If you feel it's necessary to use your free hand to keep the wok sturdy on the stovetop, you can do so. Or, you can take a second utensil, such as a spatula, second wok turner, or a hoak (an oversized wok stirring and serving scoop), and use it to toss the food in the wok as it fries, in the manner of tossing a salad.

The Lodge cast iron wok is a natural evolution from the thin Oriental wok, and it is especially suited for the modern American kitchen with its electric or induction burners. This is indeed different from the centuries-old techniques of Oriental stir frying, but it is the best way for you to get a tasty, well-cooked stir fry in your modern kitchen, in the wok hei style of cooking.

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