The Original Cowboy Wok (Discada)

The “cowboy wok” is legendary in South Texas. I have known about them for a long time, but I never had one until recently. And now it is one of those pieces of backyard barbecue equipment I just can’t live without.

The first cowboy woks (or discadas among Spanish-speaking folks) were made out of used cultivator discs. The discs start out with sharp edges, they get discarded when the edge wears off. I guess somebody got the bright idea that the worn out metal blades would be great for cooking. I wonder if the cowboy wok was inspired by those Mexican street food fryers with the well full of oil in the center?

A friend named Jim Jard loaned me the one I am using, it has a lower disc to hold the charcoal and an upper disc for cooking. The upper disc screws up and down on a shaft to control the heat by raising or lowering it over the heat of the coals. Fajitas, hamburgers, steaks and other items that do well on a flat top are easy to cook on a cowboy wok. And its great for onions, peppers, and all those condiments that you can’t cook on a grill grate.

Personally, I like to use a discada for cooking carnitas. I fill the well in the bottom with lard, heat it up, and then slow-cook big chunks of Boston butt until they are crispy on the outside and tender in the middle. Yes, this one is a little rusty and yes, there is some green paint on it. I didn’t say it was pretty.

A more sanitary version is now being manufactured in all sorts of custom sizes and variations. They work fine, but somehow it just isn’t the same. Once you start making sanitary replicas, you lose the ingenuity of the original.

8 thoughts on “The Original Cowboy Wok (Discada)

  1. Luna Nott

    My Grandpa used to have one, it was a cast iron wok looking thingy with rebar legs welded on. He called it a comal and used to cook for us when we went camping or fishing. Breakfast Taos over an open fire….yum. I inherited it when he died but my Mother threw it away. So I’m looking to replace it…..Yup, the sanitary stainless steel one just didn’t do it for me. Must be a South Texas thing, or nothing! I don’t want an Arkansas comal.

  2. bill

    Actually, the link you gave doesn’t make or sell a “sanitary” version of the cowboy wok anywhere on their site.

  3. Camp

    @Luna… thank you dear. Your story was very helpful. Comal! Of course is correct. You had one in cast iron, from Grandpa? Priceless. Cowboy wok? Whoever came up with that name and passed it along in this blog should live in perpetual shame. That’s just plain lazy journalism.

  4. Fred Parker

    I got mine last week and seasoned it tonight. I got it at agri supply a small retail store for farm supplies. It is not as fancy as the horse shoe brand but I think it will work just fine. It is the 24 in dia and is in good shape and heats up very quickly and about 3/4 up the sides with a small gas burner. I hope you get one soon and carry on your grandfathers legacy.

  5. Mona Pettey

    My boyfriends father has a farm and I seen some old disc had him make one for me the very same day. Awesome gem….

  6. Robb Walsh

    Okay, my shame is eternal!

    But actually the Spanish for this is not comal–it’s discada.

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