Chinese cooking involves a lot of high heat stir-frying to give the food that Wok Qi, a unique flavour or 'essence' that makes Chinese food so delicious. So to us, a good quality wok that is durable, cooks food evenly and can withstand the high heat without burning the food is essential. I have seen serious discussions online about which wok works best, and how you should prep them to make them non stick. I think the worst advice I've seen was to never wash a wok, just wipe it with a cloth. Euw! Maybe Chinese restaurants do that, but I don't want to know, and it's certainly not happening in my kitchen!
The Denmark cookware company Gastrolux, voted The Best Non-Stick cookware in 2008 by Germany's leading consumers' association Stiftung Warentest, has offered me to try out their Saute Pan. Although not a wok, we have found that it is in some way better than a wok after we've put the pan to several tests.
Note: The point of a wok is to make sure that the food will remain in the wok, especially when we 'throw' or 'flip' the food. Since we don't do that at home, it doesn't really matter to us whether we cook with a wok or a saute pan. As long as it doesn't stick, cooks the food evenly and doesn't burn them, it's good for us.
We were sent a 26cm/ 10" (7cm deep) Saute Pan including lid (rrp £115.99 including VAT) to try, which is suitable for non-induction hob. Both lid (Pyrex glass) and handle are oven safe up to 240 degrees Celsius. We've cooked several dishes with the pan so far:
|Left: Before cooking Right: Ready to remove from the oven|
Oven Baked Teriyaki Salmon
We avoid frying fish in this house, no matter how good the result will be. We just couldn't stand that smell and greasiness in the house. It was a great way to test the pan inside the oven though.
This is our first pan that is oven safe and we were delighted with it. We just have to remember that when it's out from the oven, the handle is as hot as the pan itself! Each fish fillet was cooked evenly and no burning at the base at all.
Pork Chops in Grandma's Secret Sauce
We marinated the pork chops and fried them in the pan. Normally this will result into some burnt meat sticking to the wok that requires a good soaking in hot water before washing. We never really see the above result unless we pour a lot of oil on the pan beforehand, which we didn't. A quick rinse and it was ready for washing!
Fried Rice - My Dad's Way
My standard procedure for frying rice - oil, fry ingredients, add rice, more oil to keep it going, switch off fire before seasoning to prevent food from burning. Of course this isn't what it should be like, but because my strength is limited, I needed more oil to keep the food from burning before I've finished stirring. The result is obviously extra unhealthy and the rice remains soggy while it should be dry.
To test the pan, I first fried the SPAM to release some grease. After removing the meat, I poured 1 tablespoon of oil in the pan, and that was all the oil I've added. I kept on stir frying on the highest heat, adding more and more ingredients to the pan, but never found the need for extra oil. Nothing was sticking to the pan while I still get to brown my ingredients, which surprised me. So I kept pushing the pan and see how far it would take me. I took my time with the seasoning, and only got it right after about the 6th attempt. By then the rice was at the right consistency as well and we finally get to enjoy a home cooked fried rice without that soggy texture!
I was also amazed with how much the pan can hold. I cooked the same amount of fried rice as we normally would (dinner plus lunch). With our 28cm wok we would have needed to fry 2 batches, so I took the wok out, all ready to fry another batch in there to save time. But the 26cm Saute pan have managed to keep everything in the pan, and still gave me enough space to stir-fry.
Hearty Beef Shin Stew
I've obviously never done a Western stew before, so I ended up with mash instead of chunky potatoes. Thankfully it was still delicious! Browning, frying and stewing in the oven was no problem at all with the pan, and even without stirring, nothing was sticking to it. I actually left it in the oven for a bit too long as well and there was no liquid left. Obviously because it is a pan after all, it still has its limit (still amazed with how much fried rice it was holding for us though!) and it's better to get their casserole pot instead for this.
Shallow Fried Buns
The last (but definitely not least) recipe I used to test the pan out. I have always wanted to make this but it seems time consuming and the frying has put me off. What if they stick and I have to peel the buns off the pan, leaving the bottom bits on it to scrape off?! But a test is a test. And after all the above, I had a bit more faith with this pan than my wok!
I was absolutely glad I made this! Nothing sticking, my pan was clean, and I only added a touch of oil at the beginning when heating it up. I had to add starch water into the pan during the frying, which could have made things worse, but look at that golden, a touch of black (but not on the pan!) crispy base of the bun! The frying was absolutely worth it, and I've gobbled up a few while taking the pictures!
I would have loved to see how it handles water marks after using it as a steamer, but that's probably a bit irrelevant. Overall, we loved the pan. It heats up fast and evenly, and its super non-stick coating means that we've used less oil in our cooking. Washing it is not a problem at all either. If I must find something to pick on, the pan is slightly on the heavy side, and I had to be extra careful when I remove the pan and food out from the oven. Perhaps cooking should be a man's thing! *cough*
You can see Gastrolux's full range of products at their official UK distributor website www.gastrolux.co.uk. They are currently running a 35% off Christmas discount as well, so grab yours while it's cheap!
Disclosure: We were sent a pan to review; all opinions are honest and our own