In praise of hexagonal pans
One of my recent blog posts for ZDNet looked at unusual designs and the inspiration of nature — Slug Slime to Hexagonal Frying Pans- and I had more to say about hexagonal frying pans than my editor felt the ZDNet audience would be interested in. So pop over and read the blog post — I'll wait — then come back and read about the pans!
Back already? OK!
For the last few weeks I've been cooking with a hexagonal pan with the catchy name of Stingray, made from aircraft grade aluminium with a high-tech non-stick polymer surface (made by ILAG, who makes UV coatings for planes as well as polymer and ceramic). The aluminium makes it a lot lighter than cast iron but it's sturdy and has the same even heat distribution you get from cast iron pans, with no hotspots. The non-stick coating is phenomenally non-stick; I've fried sliced potatoes without oil, I've put too much cheese in my omelettes and had it melt all over the pan without burning and I've made pancakes with huge chocolate chunks in and even they didn't stick. The non-stick surface also makes it the easiest pan I've ever cleaned.
The sides are deep enough for simmering sauces or for tossing the ingredients in a stir fry, which the angles of the sides also make very easy. The corners don't make it award to flip food over and if you want to stand something you're cooking on its side (say to crisp up the fat on the outside of a steak or chop), the straight sides make that really easy. And the angled corners make it extremely easy to pour out of the pan, which is really useful (no worries about scratching the non-stick surface by scooping stuff out, although there is the option of a matching hexagonal spatula).
There are some odd decisions. The metal handle has a notch cut out underneath which stops you grabbing it too close to the pan where it will be hot, but no hole for hanging the pan up - instead manufacturer Edge is making a special hook that fits into the back of the handle, making this the only frying pan I've ever seen with a dongle. Circular lids don't fit well, so if you want a lid you'll need the custom hexagonal lid (which has delayed manufacturing so the pans won't be available until early 2020). The points of the angles around the rim are showing a tiny bit of wear and I hope it doesn't mean the non-stick will peel off them. Despite all that, I'm absolutely loving the Stingray; it looks very trendy - half Ikea, half stealth plane - but it's also superbly functional and does many things better than the traditional design.
Here's more pictures of the pan in action, plus a comparison to a hexagonal US pan my friend has, which has a circular base with hexagonal sides.