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Calphalon Stir Fry Pan

October 2nd, 2009

calphalon-stir-fry-pan.jpgEarlier today as I was searching for orange sauce recipes, I ran across a reference to something called “Calphalon stir fry”. At first I thought it might have something to do with a cooking method I had not yet discovered, but upon further research I found out that Calphalon was a fairly reputable manufacturer of cookware and kitchen tools, including woks and stir fry pans.

A quick scan of my keyword’s top results yielded a very informative Amazon entry on this 10-Inch Calphalon stir fry pan, which after reading the reviews looks like something I might actually want to buy. As you may be able to tell by looking at the picture, this thing is somewhat of a cross between a traditional wok and a regular skillet, which combines some of the advantages of both but does not function exclusively as one or the other. Unlike a true wok that has a curved cooking surface all the way around, this Calphalon commercial grade pan has a flat bottom, making it ideal for use on standard gas or electric stove burners.

Materials and Construction

The main part of the pan is made of heavy gauge aluminum that promotes rapid heating, while the nonstick surface not only prevents food from sticking but also distributes oil more thoroughly, allowing you to use less of it while cooking. Meanwhile, fastened to the bowl portion by three rivets is the solid stainless steel handle, which means that you will not need to worry about rust or deterioration of the components even after long-term use.

Cleaning and Care

The nonstick surface of this pan makes cleaning relatively easy; the manufacturer recommends using a nylon brush with regular soap and water. It is not intended for use in dishwashing machines. In addition to stovetop use, the Calphalon pan may be used in the oven up to a temperature of about 450 degrees. Although this is most useful for reheating foods, one reviewer also suggested that it can be filled with water and placed on the bottom rack, where it will function as a humidifier and provide a moist oven environment for homemade bread or other baked goods.

Possible Disadvantages

One complaint mentioned in the reviews about this particular model of Calphalon stir fry pan is that it does not quite function as a true wok, where the bottom is entirely curved and the intense heat from a professional wok burner can quickly cook the food over a large surface area. Instead, what happens with this model is that the food has a tendency to bunch up near the flat bottom, which means that you might need to put a little more effort into tossing it around or using a non-metal spatula (metal utensils can scratch the nonstick coating) to stir up the ingredients for more even heating. This 10-inch pan also lacks a cover, although if you click around on some of the Amazon pages from the link above you can probably find a similar model with a lid that allows for steaming or other cooking methods besides the usual stir frying.

Other Uses

One of the more critical but descriptive reviews mentioned that although this stir fry pan is somewhat less than ideal for completely authentic stir frying, it works very well for other uses like reducing sauces. Due to its bowl shape, the pan provides a larger surface area for evaporation of liquids than a regular saucepan, resulting in a faster cooking time for boiling down and thickening any type of sauce. Some reviewers have also used it successfully to cook foods other than the usual stir fry fare, including popular breakfast dishes like hash browns and scrambled eggs. Its ability to withstand oven temperatures means that you could conceivably use it to bake casserole dinners as well, although I have never actually tried this.

Overall, the Calphalon stir fry pan looks like a good choice for someone who needs a large enough pan to contain the ingredients for stir frying in a standard home kitchen, but does not require the heavier woks that are used for large scale restaurant cooking.

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