Preparing the Rok
Heating the Rok is very easy. Simply throw it onto a burner at a high setting for around 10 minutes, turn off the burner, and using the tongs and a fork or spatula to support the other end, gently place it into its respective holder. A bit of smoke is emitted from the stone as it's heated, and is perfectly normal.
It seems to work best to have your food cut into strips, as they will cook the quickest and most thoroughly, although thicker chunks, such as steaks, will still cook through nicely. If you like rare and medium-rare preparations, cooking on the Rok will be perfect for you, as it cooks the outside nicely and can be hot enough to sear a slight carmelization on the outside, while slowly cooking the inside of the meat.
Cooking on the Rok
Once the food you'll be cooking is prepared, you'll get about 20-25 minutes of cook time out of the Rok. In our tests, "sizzle" temperature was maintained for an average of around 17 minutes, and the advertised cook time of 25 minutes seems very accurate. Actual cook time will vary on the temperature of what you're cooking, and also by how much moisture is present. Water quickly saps heat from the Rok, and foods which have a high water content may lead to lower cooking times.
Once you're ready, all you have to do is sprinkle a bit of the grilling salt on the stone, and you're set! The grilling salt adds flavor, but also prevents food from sticking to the surface of the stone. The food you're grilling hits with a satisfying and thrilling sizzle, and it really sets an exciting and fun atmosphere. It certainly makes meal-time entertaining as each person cooks their food to their own preference, and you are able to cook as you eat. Steaks are a different experience when you can cut a few pieces off, cook them, and eat them right off the hot stone, as fresh as it can be.
If you're on the ropes about whether you want to buy a set, I'd recommend finding a local restaurant that used stones for their entrees, as theres an ambiance and a particular atmosphere that it creates that is hard to put into words. It impressed my friends and family when I invited them to try it, I didn't tell them what it was, only that it was, "special." They thought they were great, and they're an incredible centerpiece to something exciting, fun, and unique. Like I've mentioned earlier, it adds a restaurant-style "splash" to what could be an otherwise ordinary meal, and it makes it feel like something special, like a treat.
Another great thing is the number of ways you can use them. You can eat as you cook, use them to cook appetizers until the entrees come, or have each person cook a particular part of the meal, the endless numbers of ways to use them are all part of the fun. I realize I probably sound a bit like a commercial right now, but, like I said, the first time I used these at a restaurant, I felt like I had to have them. I began researching them when I got home, and looked for companies that offered home sets I could try, and see if they could be as good as at the restaurant I first experienced them. They're every bit as fun as they were the first time, and I'm hoping to keep adding to my set to be able to have more people partake in my special meals!
The idea of cooking on a Rok, is great, but if it's a major time-drain and a pain to clean them up, it really puts a damper on actually wanting to use them. However, the polished surface scrubs off nicely with the wire scrubbers that Rok Cooking sells. It doesn't take any longer to clean a Rok than a regular pan, which was a worry initially. We've gone through about 10 cook cycles, we wanted to make sure the Rok stood up well with cleaning and cracking before writing our review. The stones continue to be quite easy to scrub clean after all of the cycles. The stones, over time, will gradually become darker colored as small stains permeate the small cracks, especially on the unpolished sides. The pictures below shows the stones after about 10 cook cycles.
They darken considerably after the first use, and after that it changes very gradually. However, the surface has remained very much like new, although very tiny cracks have developed from the expansion and contraction from the heating and cooling cycle. However, these small cracks don't affect the performance of the Roks, and up to now aren't noticeable unless you're looking for them. It should also be noted that cracks will be larger and develop faster when "flash cooling" the stones with water or in the refrigerator, and it's best to let them air cool before cleaning.
The stainless steel hardware also cleans off nicely, and we've had no trouble keeping those looking clean and like-new.