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I know the following three rules:

  1. Don't use metal spoons.
  2. Don't put hot teflon utensils in cold water.
  3. Cook on low flame.

Is there anything else important, which is often overlooked?

EDIT 1:
Q: I have a teflon Kadhai and a teflon wok (flat bottom and straight walls). Do we have to take some special precautions when dealing with the Kadhai (because of its shape)?

EDIT 2
Q: Does wooden spatula also causes scratches? If yes, then what's teh way out?

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This might be a British English thing, but I would use "utensils" to mean spoons, spatulas, knives, graters etc whereas it sounds like you are referring to cooking pots, woks, etc. Maybe the "equipment" tag would be more appropriate? –  Vicky Nov 17 '11 at 9:57
    
Thanks Vicky. I was referring to Kadhai (wok). –  TheIndependentAquarius Nov 17 '11 at 10:03
    
@Vicky: Well, not just British English. I'm very definitely American, and would use utensils to mean the same thing. –  derobert Nov 17 '11 at 21:26
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Be careful with the teflon wok - traditional wok'ing requires very high heat and even teflon manufacturers don't recommend their products for high heat. That doesn't mean its not good for steaming or something though. –  rfusca Nov 18 '11 at 5:09
    
@rfusca You promised to boil water in the microwave? Didn't you? ;) BTW, I put the gas on sim when using the teflon ones. –  TheIndependentAquarius Nov 18 '11 at 5:13

4 Answers 4

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Make sure food doesn't stay in the very bottom part for long enough to burn on. The flared sides and narrow bottom of these pans tend to concentrate heat at the bottom, and burn on food more easily than flat-bottom saucepans and frying pans. Once food is burned on, there is no way to scrub it off without also removing the nonstick coating. It only takes one batch of fried rice or browned onions to permanently wreck the pan. Finally, stir-frying involves a lot of vigorous motion with utensils, which rapidly wears out nonstick layers. With nonstick woks, it is simply a matter of time before they are ruined.

My suggestion is to replace your teflon wok and kadhai with (respectively) carbon steel and cast-iron equivalents at the earliest convenience. Woks and kadhais are designed for high-flame cooking, and if you reduce the heat to protect cookware, then the food won't get browned fully. With these materials you can use full heat without ruining pans or releasing toxic chemicals (from overheated Teflon). Cleanup is simple: just rinse out, scrape off burnt bits, wipe them down with a paper towel, and season with oil.

Finally, wooden or silicone rubber utensils are the best for a nonstick wok or kadhai; they won't scrape off the nonstick layer unless used very roughly, andthey can stand the heat without melting. Normal plastics (particularly polyethylene or polypropylene) tend to melt, and metal will scrape up the nonstick coating.

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In which cases should the Teflon utensils be used then? –  TheIndependentAquarius Nov 28 '11 at 6:31
    
@Anisha Kaul: I don't think Teflon is helpful on most cookware, but it is not a problem for frying pans and saucepans, as long as you don't heat them too much. The flat bottoms distribute heat more evenly and thus aren't as like to have food burn on. The other bad part of Teflon is that it will produce toxic fumes if overheated, and contains the harmful chemical PFOA, which can be released if they overheat or the coating is damaged. –  BobMcGee Nov 28 '11 at 14:04
    
You said The flat bottoms distribute heat more evenly and thus aren't as like to have food burn on. Exactly I was thinking this. :) I have flat bottom saucepans, and they aren't damaged! :D –  TheIndependentAquarius Nov 28 '11 at 15:06
    
I'll edit teh question. –  TheIndependentAquarius Nov 28 '11 at 15:08

Be very careful heating it

Usually with a steel or iron pan I'll crank the heat under it and go do something else for a couple of minutes while it gets up to temperature. If it takes me five minutes to get back to it, maybe it's a little too hot and I have to hold it away from the burner for a few seconds before adding the oil. With teflon, that can damage the pan, so I keep a closer eye on it and hold my hand over the pan more often to see if its ready.

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I suggest adding oil (even if just a little) to teflon when its cold. That way, it'll start smoking before overheating. –  derobert Nov 17 '11 at 21:29
    
What do you mean by cranking the heat? –  TheIndependentAquarius Nov 18 '11 at 4:28
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@AnishaKaul: Crank (as a verb) is a hard word to define (except for the basic meaning of "to turn with a crank")... as in, I go look it up in a dictionary, and the definitions they give are completely correct, yet fail entirely to capture how the word is used. I'd read "crank the heat" as turn burner to medium high or high. With a cast iron pan, for example, five minutes on high will probably have the pan north of 600°F/300°C. That won't really do anything to the iron pan, but would destroy Teflon (releasing hazardous fumes in the process). If you're curious about "crank", try English SE site. –  derobert Nov 18 '11 at 7:45
    
Sorry about the colloquialism. It basically means to give the knob a twist to somewhere around medium high, without looking or really caring about the exact setting. I just grab it and twist it, and worry about adjusting it more precisely once the pan is hot and I'm ready to add food. –  Adam Jaskiewicz Nov 18 '11 at 13:20

Totally agree with BobMcGee. I replaced most of cookware with steel and cast-iron ones... Except the ones that I use for pancakes/cakes or similiar stuff that take short time to cook and don’t need too much heat. Even then;
- I use wooden spatula/spoon.
- I clean pan with paper towel & change oil after each piece/bunch (in case of burnt stuff/oil – which harm pans as well as health).
- To avoid scratching in the cabinet, I never put any other material in/on teflon cookware (either hang up the pans or put a soft metarial in between).

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The answer mentions a good point. I stack my pans in the cabinet, and put a sheet of kitchen paper in each of the coated ones, it seems to help. –  rumtscho Nov 29 '11 at 13:34

Don't leave them full of water for a day or two in your sink because you're too lazy/busy to wash them at the right time.

Happened twice, had to convert my pans in flower pots: they formed some "bubbles" under the teflon coating, and, while cooking and stirring, these bubbles popped and the coating went out and ruined my food...

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Wow, I have never washed them the same day yet. Thanks. –  TheIndependentAquarius Nov 17 '11 at 14:22

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