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Old 02-18-2014, 02:01 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by pistos View Post
I've read similar opinions a couple of times, and this is where I get a little skeptical. A primitive wood fire can outheat a typical modern electric range, no? And a primitive forge is not much more than a well designed wood stove, and that will melt a wok. No reason you can't get super hot with a small wood fire.
Here's the list of books that quote came from. I suppose you could do some more research and report back to us.
  • The Food of China, E. N. Anderson [Yale University Press:New Haven] 1988 (p. 184-5)
  • A History of Cooks and Cooking, Michael Symons [University of Illinois:Urbana] 2000 (p. 78)
  • Cambridge World History of Food, Kenneth F. Kiple & Kriemhild Conee Ornelas [Cambrdige University Press:Cambridge] 2000, Volume Two (p. 1169)
    [NOTE: This book has a long list of citation for further study.]
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Old 02-18-2014, 02:14 PM   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GotGarlic View Post
Here's the list of books that quote came from. I suppose you could do some more research and report back to us.
  • The Food of China, E. N. Anderson [Yale University Press:New Haven] 1988 (p. 184-5)
  • A History of Cooks and Cooking, Michael Symons [University of Illinois:Urbana] 2000 (p. 78)
  • Cambridge World History of Food, Kenneth F. Kiple & Kriemhild Conee Ornelas [Cambrdige University Press:Cambridge] 2000, Volume Two (p. 1169)
    [NOTE: This book has a long list of citation for further study.]
Hold on, you're being a bit unfair. Just because some folks did some research doesn't mean I should turn off my brain. And just because I haven't written a book on wok cooking doesn't mean I don't know a thing or two about wood fires.

Either way, I find nothing objectionable in the material you referenced. What I am skeptical of is the inference that conservation of fuel means lower heat that a Super Deluxe Gordan Ramsey Elite VIII Stove.

I'm not saying you're wrong.
I'm not saying traditional Chinese cooking means super high heat.
I'm not saying one way is better than the other.

I'm just saying I can't see why you can't get a wok super hot with just a few logs of wood.
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Old 02-18-2014, 02:35 PM   #33
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pistos -

you can look up the smoke point and flash point of all the various oils in many places.

that, however, may not be "cause" of your flaming wok.

you may have seen many videos of many dishes by many cooks - where either unintentionally or "for show" the pan flares up in flames. frying pans, saute pans, woks, sauce pans . . .

so why and how does a pan of oil suddenly develop monster size towers of flames?

one way is to simply overheat the oil - to the point it auto ignites.

this is your absolute classic kitchen grease/fat fire - "oh I forgot it was on the burner!" typically there's so much smoke before you get flames, in a situation without an exhausting hood, you're gonna know it's coming.

it is not the only way to make things "blow up in the kitchen"
hot oil, dump in (something) that is wet with water, the water 'explodes' into steam. the 'steam explosion' causes the oil to 'atomize' -

for a fire, or explosion, you need: fuel, oxygen, heat. a quick check with your local fire fighters will reveal the opinion an empty gas can is likely more dangerous re: exploding, than a full can of gasoline because the "fuel" is atomized and only requires a spark/heat to ignite.

note the videos -

the first - perhaps a tablespoon of oil, swirled around to a coating with a bit left on the bottom. note the amount of chicken - did you see a huge billowing steam cloud when it was put in the pan?

the second - looks like a bit more oil, and in what appears to be a non-stick pan - the oil puddles at the bottom - but note the (large) amount of beef going into the wok - it basically 'smothers' the oil at the bottom, the oil has no chance to atomize, spread out in a cloud of fuel over the wok, and blow up into flames.... and note, again, not a lot of water going into the hot wok....

as you noted, flare-ups can be a bit disconcerting - especially in the home kitchen.

perhaps it would be of benefit to review your woking technique and the state of watery-ness of stuff you toss in?

the wok temperature may not be any kind of issue at all. the smoke point, much less the autoignition point, of the oils you're using are way far above and gone to the boiling point of water. too much hot oil, too little stuff added, too wet - poof! wok-flame-thrower.....
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Old 02-18-2014, 03:01 PM   #34
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dcSaute, the original poster stated that the oil caught fire in an experiment. It caught fire without the addition of anything else. Working technique is, in this case, irrelevant.
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Old 02-18-2014, 03:17 PM   #35
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The local kitchen supply store has burners that run off these little cans, butane I think. If I remember correctly, they put out a quite a few BTU. I'll have to check it out.
Whoa! I'm not exactly sure what you're talking about but----How will that help you get more heat for your wok, in the right places? Is that safe? Indoors?

But I also want to make it clear that a delicious Chinese meal can be made with a wok on an electric range. I've done it.You can do it.
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Old 02-18-2014, 03:20 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by cave76 View Post
Whoa! I'm not exactly sure what you're talking about but----How will that help you get more heat for your wok, in the right places? Is that safe? Indoors?

But I also want to make it clear that a delicious Chinese meal can be made with a wok on an electric range. I've done it.You can do it.
Some of them are definitely safe indoors. I have one called a Thunder Range, that we have for power outages. It's specifically designed with butane as the fuel, so it is safe indoors.
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Old 02-18-2014, 03:26 PM   #37
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>>Working technique is, in this case, irrelevant.

hmmm. quite true.

"the wok was heated until it stopped smoking"
what does that mean? - perhaps it was heated to the point where all the existing oil / seasoning burned off.

"then added oil"
at a temperature quite likely past the auto-ignition point of any of the oils.
would explain why the wok stopped smoking, no?

technique may have a role in that approach.
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Old 02-18-2014, 03:42 PM   #38
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Some of them are definitely safe indoors. I have one called a Thunder Range, that we have for power outages. It's specifically designed with butane as the fuel, so it is safe indoors.
I understand----- I've looked into them for myself and some are definitely safe indoors.

I was also wondering is if it would have the btu rating as high or higher than the OPs elec. range--- somewhere close to what a top drawer gas range would put out.
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Old 02-18-2014, 03:49 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by pistos View Post
Hold on, you're being a bit unfair. Just because some folks did some research doesn't mean I should turn off my brain. And just because I haven't written a book on wok cooking doesn't mean I don't know a thing or two about wood fires.

Either way, I find nothing objectionable in the material you referenced. What I am skeptical of is the inference that conservation of fuel means lower heat that a Super Deluxe Gordan Ramsey Elite VIII Stove.

I'm not saying you're wrong.
I'm not saying traditional Chinese cooking means super high heat.
I'm not saying one way is better than the other.

I'm just saying I can't see why you can't get a wok super hot with just a few logs of wood.
You're right. Sorry. I was in a bad mood about something else and should have known better than to comment here.

So, I got curious and found this discussion, not really about the heat, but I found it interesting: Wok cooking - are home stoves really not hot enough? - China: Cooking & Baking - eGullet Forums
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Old 02-18-2014, 08:33 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by Andy M. View Post
Put the wok on high heat and it will start smoking shortly. When it starts to smoke, add a couple of tablespoons of oil in the pan and wait a minute or so until it starts to smoke then add your meat and start stir-frying. If you don't splash the oil around too much, you shouldn't have a problem.
So I tried that today and I managed to:

a) not set any fires
b) get that nice TZZZZ!! with the striploin I was stir frying.

Unfortunately, I also got:

c) burned beef on the bottom of the pan

Perhaps my escapades in kitchen fires yesterday didn't do my seasoning any favors The dish turned out pretty tasty though.

I sauteed three batches of onion and ginger for about 40 minutes after dinner over medium heat to hopefully get that seasoning back. I got company over for dinner tomorrow so hopefully no burning beef this time.
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