Like so many folks here lately, I bought a 16" wok for my Large, seasoned it, and suddenly realized what a really hot, metal wok does to food, and I'm hooked for life.
BUT, I admit I was a bit alarmed at how much lump just one meal used. I live alone and mostly cook for one, and use up almost a whole Large Egg-ful of lump just for one meal. I started looking at my Small, and thinking, and measuring, and looking at www.wokshop.com, and measuring again, and sent off my credit card number again. Two days ago I got another package from the Brown Shorts Guy, containing a Wok Shop-brand 12" Hand-Hammered Carbon Steel Wok with metal handle, and one of these $2.95 items:
I was hoping the above wok ring would fit against the top of the ceramic bowl in my Small, like a CGS Spider, no such luck (hint hint, CGS!) but it sits on top of the regular grate just fine. The height of the grate/ring/10" wok combo was perfect for the Small! The wok is much lighter and will make tossing much easier than the 16" was.
Now, some specific notes:
I bought the 16", chinese, cast iron "Pow" wok (metal handle) for my Large. A friend of mine questioned whether it was truly cast iron, as the handle was welded on; good point! It has a darker, "grainy" look that makes me think it really is CI; it seasoned up with no problem and cooked non-stick from the get-go.
The 12" was the carbon-steel "Wok Shop's Hand Hammered "Pow" Wok (metal handle). I wanted to try as many different qualities as possible, to see if I had a preference. I will say this: the "hand-hammered" feature is BS; the wok itself was nicely rounded and smooth, with "dents" placed in an almost machine-like precision around it; this was machine-made with dents put in to simulated actual hand-made construction. All I can see those dents doing is making it harder to clean.
ANTI-CORROSION COATING THAT NEEDS TO BE REMOVED:
This is my greatest complaint about both woks I've received from Wok Shop. I don't know what this material is, but its a **** to remove! With the first, 16" cast iron pan I followed the directions, baking soda in water and boil 5-10 minutes, empty, wash, and season. Well, even with scrubbing vigorously with a copper pad, the inside surface was still sticky, not to mention the outside and the handle. After seasoning, the inside was okay, but the outside and the handle are still sticky, even with three "seasonings" and three cooks!
Tried it a bit different with the 12" carbon-steel. I again boiled the inside with water and baking soda per directions, but used my new wire wok ring (above) on my gas stove, so I wasn't afraid to fill it up almost to the brim with water. Still couldn't get a full rolling boil (couldn't do it on the Egg either, and someone else mentioned this problem; must be the wok's shape (curved bottom deflects heat off to the sides, and large surface area cools the liquid inside too fast)). I cooked it for a full half-hour, and then noticed a "skin" peeling off from one edge! I tried to pull it with my tongs, but it disintegrated like wet toilet paper. I scrubbed it in hot soapy water in the sink, and finally, no sticky surface on the inside! The outside was still sticky, of course. To the Driveway, with paper towels and industrial chemicals. Isopropyl alcohol didn't remove the stickiness at all. Lacquer thinner did, although it also took a lot of scrubbing. I didn't try the paint thinner, as it (iirc) leaves a chem residue. I'm really pissed off about this crap, and tomorrow night I'm removing the stickiness from my Large with sandpaper, on a belt sander if necessary! X(
My 16" was seasoned on the Egg; wiped with oil inside and out, stir-fried onions over high heat until burnt, dumped, cooled, wiped clean, and repeated two more times. The first cook was entirely non-stick, success! The sticky handle really torqued me off, though.
After cleaning my 12", I tried the Wok Shop's technique: wiped with oil inside and out, placed upside-down on a baking sheet, and into a preheated 425 F oven for 20 minutes. Took out, cooled, wiped clean, recoated with oil, and back into the oven for another 20 minutes. I turned the oven off then and its still sitting in there, I'll take a look tomorrow morning when its fully cool (will probably stir-fry some onions a time or two on the Egg tomorrow after work). Strong Hint! Disconnect your smoke detector, and open some windows even if its a bit cold out!
In the next couple days I'll post a pic or two of cooks on the 12"/Small, plus any opinions on the difference between cast iron and carbon steel. I'm also curious about lump usage between the two, what originally started this whole experiment. If I end up going with the Small for my stir-frying, there's another change coming: a Table. Currently my Small is in a BGE Nest, okay except its pretty low, and I'm 6'5". Granted, you're not bent over very long during a quick stir-fry, but I'm getting old too!