Caution: Caveman Cooking

Recipes so easy, even a … Well, you know!

REVIEW: Man Pans Stir Fry Wok & Steamer Set

Posted by Caveman Cooking on December 2, 2010

Man Pans Stir Fry Wok & Steamer SetRecently, the folks at Man Pans asked me if I would be willing to do a review of one of their pans here on C3. I did some research into their product line and was impressed by what they purported to offer. Turns out that Man Pans is actually the recently formed consumer division of Lloyd Industries who have been providing professional lines of cookware to chefs and restaurants since the mid 1980’s. In fact, if you’ve ever had a restaurant pizza baked in a pan, it was probably a Lloyd pan. I also discovered that all of Man Pans products are made in the USA using eco-friendly manufacturing techniques. None of their pans contain PTFE’s, PFOA’s or Fluoropolymer coatings. Obviously, I readily agreed … besides, I am always ready to play with a new toy!
They offered to send me the pan of my choosing, and that was all the invitation I needed to start scouring their product line for the perfect pan to do a review on. However, being that I was already in the market for both a new wok and a new steamer, I figured the 12″ Stir Fry Wok and Steamer Set was the logical choice – two birds with one stone, if you will.
I was a little hesitant to ask for one of their highest priced items, but they didn’t bat an eye. A few days after informing them of my choice, a package was left on the front porch containing everything you see here. Yep, they even threw in the makings for some St. Marie’s Wild Chicken Soup! Apparently, they send out some free gifts with most of their orders. I couldn’t wait to get my review going, and you probably can’t now either. So, without further adieu, here is what I found as I ran this puppy through it’s paces:

When I first removed the pan from the box, I was absolutely amazed at how light it felt. Usually, you expect pro-level pans to be a bit on the heavy side, conveying a feeling of sturdiness and toughness. While lighter pans have always seemed to be a sign of inferior quality and design. This was certainly not the case with the Man Pans Stir Fry Wok, as we’ll see. Though, as you can see from the picture, I was easily able to hold onto the pan with two fingers and applying very little pressure. I wouldn’t have dared trying this with my old wok, or even with my smaller Calphalon Stir Fry Pan.
Man Pans Stir Fry Wok

I was also impressed by the rather large profile it exhibited. It was only slightly smaller than the wok it was destined to replace, while easily dwarfing my smaller Calphalon model. Usually, I end up making two versions of every Asian meal I cook – a carnivore rendering for the Cavekids and me, and a veggie-friendly version for the Cavewoman. So, two woks are a must in the Cavehold. It seemed as though the new Man Pans wok would easily be able to handle cooking the larger amounts of food needed to fill three Neanderthal palates.
Comparing Woks

The entire Man Pans line contains their proprietary Gem-X2 coating. It is a two layer sapphire/quartz-like natural mineral finish that is permanently bonded to the aluminum pan. It will not flake, chip or rub off and is metal utensil safe, and oven safe to 700° F. Man Pans claims that the finish is so tough you can rub a coin on the surface and not only will you not scratch the finish, but the coin will actually get worn down! I decided not to test that claim, though. 😉
While the Gem-X2 coating does offer a stick-resistant finish, it is a good idea to coat any new pan with some Canola, or other vegetable oil. Other than that, no further seasoning is needed on the Man Pans. Interestingly, I also found that I didn’t need to use any more oil in the cooking processes than I would using any of the traditional non-stick cookware.
Oiling Pan

Of course, the first thing I was going cook in the pan was stir fry. I decided to just do one of my basic recipes, with a Pork loin version in the Man Pans wok, and a Tofu one on the smaller Calphalon. I figured that not only would I make my wife happy, but, I’d also get to run the pans side by side for a comparison of sorts. Both pans heated up quite quickly, though, the Man Pans Stir Fry Wok seemed to get there slightly quicker. Noteworthy, considering that it has much more surface area to heat. I placed my hand into the pan, without touching it, and could feel that the heat was very evenly radiated.
I put the oil into the pan and it deftly got to cooking level. I sauteed the chopped garlic and found that it cooked perfectly, while I struggled to prevent it from burning in the comparison pan. Turns out, that the Man Pans are designed to cook extremely evenly, and use about 40% less heat from the flame to achieve proper heat levels than most other pans. Making them very “green” in the cooking process as well as in the way they are manufactured.
Another nice feature on the Man Pans are the handles. Their unique CoolGrip handle design minimizes the amount of heat that can be conducted from the hot pan. So, while I always need some sort of mitt or potholder with my Calphalon, I was glove free and felt absolutely no heat as long as I kept my meat-hooks behind the “Hot” marker, even when using the high flame necessary for proper stir frying.
Sauteeing Garlic/Handle

I put the pork loin into the pan to start the browning process. It quickly began to sear and it wasn’t long before I was ready to turn the meat. I was going to reach for the spatula, but the steep sides of the Man Pans Stir Fry Wok invited me to go for a flip of the meat instead. I wasn’t sure if the meat would release easily enough to complete such a move, though my fears were quickly assuaged. As you can see, all of the pork chunks readily released for a very easy flip … I just could have done a better job of completing the move! 😳
Flipping Meat

I added the veggies to the stir fry, and wanted to give the food another flip. Again, it all released immediately and effortlessly. As you can see in the background, the spatula just sat there … I didn’t need to use it once while cooking in the Man Pans Wok. FYI, I don’t even attempt to try that move with the Calphalon, it’s sides are too slanted making it very easy to lose some of the contents when attempting the flip.
Flipping Stir Fry

The stir fry came out perfectly. The meat was cooked to perfection, the veggies remained crispy and firm, and the sauce I added slightly caramelized the stir fry’s ingredients perfectly. Over the course of my weeklong examination I ended up making two more dishes calling for a wok: another basic stir fry and a batch of my Chicken Panang (Thai Red Curry in Coconut Milk). Both, ended up being cooked to perfection, as well. However, I wanted to also give the steamer a go. Unfortunately, it isn’t deep enough to steam larger vegetables, like an Artichoke (my lone negative note on this set). I had to give something else a try and decided to make some Veggie Wonton Soup. Rather than boil my Won Tons in the soup, which tends to tear them apart, I like to steam them first then add them to the soup when it comes time to turn things down to a simmer. By using this set, I was able to steam them while the broth and veggies cooked below. I think it helped add more flavor to the Won Tons. Plus, I didn’t have to use a separate steamer – saving a pan of water, the gas necessary to heat it, and the resources needed to clean it. Making the Man Pans Stir Fry Wok, once again, very eco-friendly.
Steaming Won Tons

I must say that cleaning the Man Pans Stir Fry Wok is almost as satisfying as cooking with it. Returning the pan to it’s pristine state is quick and easy with a little dish soap and some warm water. No heavy scrubbing was needed no matter what was cooked in it. Though, if you ever do need to give it a vigorous cleaning, it is recommended that you re-oil the pan before the next time you cook with it.
Cleaning Pan

For years, I have been a Calphalon devotee. But, using the Man Pans Wok side by side with my old faithful has truly opened my eyes. Using a lighter pan certainly made things much easier in the handling department. Using less energy while cooking and achieving the same results is definitely an attractive quality. And, being made here in the USA using very environmentally friendly processes makes the Man Pans an exciting prospect. But, the bottom line is how they cook the food you are preparing … and on this level the Man Pans ran at least on par, if not better, than my trusty old Calphalon. My only complaint is with the depth of the steamer insert. Though, when you combine all of the pluses apparent in the Man Pans product, I feel as though I have found a new standard by which I will be judging cookware from here on out. The only other downside I see is that I now want to try out all of their other offerings! 😉
Man Pans 12

MSRP – $135, seen on sale for $100

Cave Club Rating: 5 Clubs
Cave ClubCave ClubCave ClubCave ClubCave Club

Cave Club Scale
5 Clubs = The Missing Link
4 Clubs = Rock Solid
3 Clubs = Better Than Sharp Stick
2 Clubs = Not Fully Evolved
1 Club = Should Be Extinct

The folks at Man Pans were also kind enough to offer all the readers of this review a generous 20% discount on any purchase made before 12/20/2010. Just enter Coupon Code “2010F&F” on the checkout page of your order and the discount will be applied. You may use that code as often as you like before it expires.
As you know, we only give away products that we believe in and use here on C3. Since I clearly have become a fan of Man Pans, I approached them about the possibility of doing a giveaway here on the blog. Their response was, to say the least, overwhelming! Don’t miss your chance to win some of Man Pans’ finest, as we launch the biggest and best giveaway we have ever undertaken … the Want Pans? Giveaway.

©2010 Caution: Caveman Cooking/UHearMe, Inc. All rights reserved. This originally appeared on the Caution: Caveman Cooking blog at authored by Caveman. This may be shared and reprinted as long as this entire copyright message accompanies it.

23 Responses to “REVIEW: Man Pans Stir Fry Wok & Steamer Set”

  1. Claudia said

    Excellent review. I’ve been less than enamoured with my current set of pots.I do love name “Man-pans.” Would it encourage my husband to cook more? They do look sensibly durable.

    • Thanks, Claudia! I think these pans would making cooking more enjoyable for just about anyone … including your main dude. 😉
      Durability is a question that can only be answered over a period of time longer than one week. For that reason, I intend to revisit this review in six months to give a more long term perspective. Though, it seems as though these pans are quite durable as I tend to cook much like a Neanderthal … rough and messy. And, the pan still looks l just pulled it out of the box.

  2. McDuffy said

    I Want Pans

  3. Carol Asbury said

    Now your talking, “thats a pan set” safe and easy to clean. What a combo.

  4. BTW, I went way outside the box tonight and used this Man Pans Stir Fry Wok to make a big double batch of King Crab Risotto. I figured with the wide flat bottom and high sides that his pan has it would work well. In fact, it worked exceptionally … the dish came out perfectly! Talk about a versatile pan!!

  5. Chris said

    That is 10 x awesome! I love that wok/steamer combo, it’s ridiculously functional. The handle is genius. I’m going to have to bookmark this for my Christmas wish list.

  6. Courtney said

    I love that there’s finally an option of being able to cook without all those harsh chemicals they put into pans these days. Go Man Pans! 🙂

    • Totally agree, Courtney! Most non-stick pans are a real health concern. These pans easily release the food, and clean up even easier. All without putting your, your family’s, and your guests’ health at risk.

  7. Steve said

    I have had one of these for several years. I absolutely love it. It is everything you’ve written. It is light, but sturdy, multi-functional and easy to clean. I always recommend these pans to my friends. Thanks for the great review.

  8. […] Dec 2 review of the Manpans 12″ Stir Fry Wok & Steamer Set” –  “For years, I have been a Calphalon devotee. But, using the Man Pans Wok side by side […]

  9. NoVA Bill said

    I could use some help as I’m unable to cook my sausage, mushrooms and spinach first in the 10″ pan, then wipe it again with the PAM soaked paper towel and create a no stick egg beaters omelette, i.e., the egg beater omelettle sticks completely and becomes scambled eggs.

    I must be honest and state that I first tried to cook using EVOO but have since abandoned EVOO in favor of PAM. Have cleaned the pan with recommended ratio of baking powder several times but have yet been able to achieve non-stick cooking like the youtube example where an ometlette with fixin’s is prepared or even the mac and cheese demo.

    I certainly want this pan to work as I support “made in America” companies so ANY help is appreciate as my email to ManPans hasn’t been answered. Thx, NoVA Bill…

    • Bill, have you seasoned your pan using vegetable oil? Remember, you need to re-season it every once in a while – especially after a good cleaning.
      The folks at Man Pans might have some other suggestions. I am forwarding your post to my contacts there.

      • NoVA Bill said

        Thanks for the reply. Have also sent a couple of emails to ManPans but have yet to receive a reply.
        I’m a bit confused by your “reseasoning” comment – I assume you mean apply veg oil… vs. the seasoning of a CI skillet. But to answer you question…I do apply PAM (canola oil based) prior to cooking.

        I welcome any and all comments. Thanks – NoVA Bill

      • Bill, the folks at Man Pans say they are going to contact you directly to resolve your issue. Let me know what happens on your end next week.
        As for the “reseason”, forget about the Pam and use real veggie oil on a paper towel. Pam has other stuff in it that likely reacts to the stick resistant surface on the pan.

  10. […] Reviews – 12 inch Stir Fry Wok Steamer Set by Caution Caveman Cooking … Read his Manpans cookware review on the CCC site, or on the Manpans […]

  11. Lauren said

    Are Manpans lead free? Can they be washed in the dishwasher?

    • Lauren, Man Pans are lead-free, made from aluminum, and contain no petroleum products, PFE’s or PFOA’s.
      As with all quality cookware and cutlery, you should not place them in the dishwasher. Though, I must say that they clean up easier than ANY other piece of cookware I own. Some warm soapy water, a sponge, and about 20 seconds is all you need to clean these pans.

  12. Rich Kristiansen said

    ManPan – the first use was truly awesome. The best non stick ever. And light weight. After the tenth use however it had a spot that eggs would stick to. No more casual flipping for over easy eggs. Now I have a lightweight semi non stick pan just like any other “non stick”.

    • Rich, did you re-season the pan? After several uses, you need to put some cooking oil on a paper towel and give it another wipe-down (you can even kind of see when it needs it, as the pan gets a “dry” look to it). Do that and it should retain it’s non-stick properties. I’ve been using my Man Pans wok for over a year and it still has it’s non-stick qualities, as long as I have given it a re-season when necessary.

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