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Old 03-05-2016, 11:33 PM   #1
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Chinese Food/Does the High Cooking Heat affect the taste?

So Im in Philly this weekend, and i was strolling through the Reading Terminal Market ( anyone who is going to be in the Philly area, and love food should absolutely check this market out, I used to live in philly and have been here more times than I can count). I came across a Chinese place in there, and lucky for me, its an open kitchen. Loving Chinese food, I shamelessly walked around so I had a good close look at the chef, watching his techniques and trying to make note of the ingredients he was using ( unlucky for me, I can't read Chinese, so I was unable to Identify what he was using or even the brands).

Anyway, just watching the flame coming out hitting that wok. Its clearly more than anything I can produce in my home.

So, question is, aside from having the right ingredients, does that high of a heat itself have its own affect on the actual taste?

So even if I had the right ingredients, would it taste different, cooking it on a much lower heat than they use? or would it not be that significant of a difference ??

Just curious

larry

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Old 03-06-2016, 08:52 AM   #2
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You're right, Larry. No way you can duplicate the heat of the jet engine they use in Chinese restaurants. In addition to the super hot burner, the cook often operates the burner with a foot pedal so he can control the heat on or off in an instant.

That intense heat does effect the flavor of the finished dish. There is a Chinese expression for that but I don't recall it. If you duplicated the ingredients and quantities exactly and cooked the dish at home, it would be a bit different but there would be no doubt it was the same dish.

Consider buying a turkey fryer and using that burner for wok cooking. That's about as close as you can practically come at home.
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Old 03-06-2016, 09:08 AM   #3
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Some of those wok restaurant ranges (not to be confused with "Walker, Texas Ranger" ) are rated for over 100,000 BTU, while most home gas stoves are in the 5000-12,000 BTU range.

I have one of these at home:
Dark Star® Burner 2.0 : Northern Brewer

I received it for free a few years ago as part of a promotion. So far I've only used it for canning. It works great and can bring 5 gallons of water to a boil in no time. I've never used it with a wok, but I wonder if it would be a good compromise solution.
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Old 03-06-2016, 10:34 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Kroll View Post
...I have one of these at home:
Dark Star® Burner 2.0 : Northern Brewer...
Very similar to the turkey fryer burner I mentioned. Here's an example:

http://www.amazon.com/Bayou-Classic-...r+turkey+fryer

Holy cow! This one has a 185,000 BTU capacity!
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Old 03-06-2016, 10:37 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Kroll View Post
I have one of these at home:
Dark Star® Burner 2.0 : Northern Brewer
I have a similar burner, and have used it with a CI pan to make blackened fish. Outdoors, of course. I've also used it to steam 30 lobsters at once.

Back in the 80's when blackened fish first became popular, a friend made the mistake of trying it indoors when the weather was cold and the windows were closed. His wife was not very happy with the smoke filled house.
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Old 03-06-2016, 10:46 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy M. View Post
You're right, Larry. No way you can duplicate the heat of the jet engine they use in Chinese restaurants. In addition to the super hot burner, the cook often operates the burner with a foot pedal so he can control the heat on or off in an instant.

That intense heat does effect the flavor of the finished dish. There is a Chinese expression for that but I don't recall it. If you duplicated the ingredients and quantities exactly and cooked the dish at home, it would be a bit different but there would be no doubt it was the same dish.

Consider buying a turkey fryer and using that burner for wok cooking. That's about as close as you can practically come at home.
You're thinking of wok hei, the "breath of the wok." I just re-read this article from Serious Eats about achieving it at home. He says it can be done by cooking in a wok over a grill with a special insert that holds the wok steady.

http://www.seriouseats.com/2012/06/t...the-grill.html
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Old 03-06-2016, 06:50 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy M. View Post

That intense heat does effect the flavor of the finished dish. There is a Chinese expression for that but I don't recall it. If you duplicated the ingredients and quantities exactly and cooked the dish at home, it would be a bit different but there would be no doubt it was the same dish

It's called Wok Hey or something like it. It's the taste from cooking in a seasoned wok using very high heat.
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Old 03-06-2016, 06:54 PM   #8
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Can we have a Like button? sometimes there is nothing to say but to give thumbs up.
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Old 03-06-2016, 07:58 PM   #9
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I had a Chinese friend a hundred years ago, who made the comment to me about that the high heat alone is enough to make a noticeable difference in the taste. And its not that I didn't believe him, I just never was in a situation where I could experiment and experience it first hand.
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Old 03-06-2016, 10:49 PM   #10
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I was watching a documentary about China, and they had a meal at a farmhouse that dated from like 1750 (rustic log cabin type place, real neat).

Anyway, the original wok setup was sort of a brick oven where you stuff wood down below for the fire, and then the wok sits right on top of it with the flames right under it. I bet that thing gets super hot too.

Wok cooking is super fast. At the local place we go to -- Girard Wok, it's cool to see them cooking (kitchen is open to the counter). They throw oil in it, veggies, chicken or whatever protein you ordered, then scrape it around and it's done in no time.
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