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Old 04-17-2005, 01:53 PM   #11
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moved to Ethnic Forum
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Old 04-17-2005, 02:34 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ironchef
You're probably missing all of the MSG that's put in the food. Regular Salt can't come close to duplicating that "unique" flavor.
i agree,i always use MSG while making a chinese dish,and i do use a little sesame or sometimes peanut oil too,but i have to admit,it doesnt have that same flavor ,its always good but just not the same
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Old 04-17-2005, 10:16 PM   #13
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I agree that the high BTU's is the main component to "hay". However, a couple other key ingredients not mentioned thus far are Hoisin, Fish, and Oyster sauces. Use the last two sparingly, and don't be put off by the smell of Fish sauce.
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Old 04-18-2005, 07:28 AM   #14
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And don't forget the Chinese 5-spice powder. Like the sesame oil, and fish sauce, use very sparingly. A touch will enhance many meals. A bit too much will ruin them.

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Old 04-18-2005, 08:09 AM   #15
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When I read the OP's question, I drew a mental distinction between "fragrance" and "flavor". I guess each has a separate meaning to me... and both are very important with perhaps "flavor" being even more important than the "hay" which most of us can't get with our low BTU kitchen range woks.

When we talk about adding: toasted sesame oil; ginger; using peanut oil; MSG (accent, et.al.); 5 spice; fish sauce; hoisin sauce; oyster sauce; etc... to me these are used to "flavor" the dish and not as much to produce the "fragrance" you get from using an airplane jet engine to fire up your wok in the back yard. BTW: I'm surprised nobody mentioned red pepper flakes and garlic 'cause I always use garlic, but then we have a worse vampire problem here in Seattle than other parts of the country.

That said, I concede that withOUT those flavoring ingredients, it's probably impossible to obtain the "commercial" wok "hay" fragrance that the better Chinese restaurants get either... so both are necessary.

When I eat out, I tend to like the "three star" and "four star" dishes, which are on the hot side... (I exclude the "five star" 'cause in some of the Chinese restaurants in San Francisco, if you order "five star", you also better have a half gallon of ice cream and/or a quart of milk on the side and be prepared to dial 911... cause they make it HOT.. but it varies from restaurant to restaurant)...

Some of the things I add, not mentioned here, are a red garlic/chili paste and some kinda black bean/garlic sauce and I use a chili oil that comes in a red & white plastic bottle with a picture of a chicken on it.. I don't know the name of it...

Anyway, that might make a very interesting separate thread.. e.g. flavors used in Chinese cooking, etc....
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Old 04-18-2005, 12:23 PM   #16
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Hopefully this isn't TOO far off topic.. but in response to PM's about burners and woks I talk about in this thread...

The "jet engine" outside propane burner I have/use is kinda like this one here... (I bought mine about 4 years ago and I couldn't find my exact model on the net anymore)
http://www.cabelas.com/cabelas/en/te...results1.jhtml

and this one has a bit more "punch" than mine.. I seem to recall mine is about 120,000 BTU's which is MORE than enough to get your wok "red hot" very quickly... And this one is nice 'cause I had to buy my hose and regulator separately.. other sites have them too... like www.northerntool.com, (search "burners") etc.

During the season, I often come back from a cruise with a bunch of Dungeness crab and cook them myself (among other things, commercial cooked crab is never cooked with enough salt in the water.. but that's another topic.) and these things will bring a BIG pot of water to a boil very quick.

They would work great for a "crawfish boil" too, which we don't have here ... no crawfish that is...or lobster either or shrimp ... in the Puget Sound.

Also... the wok to use is just a simple carbon steel, hammered, or "pow" wok.. probably under $20.00. I bought mine years ago from the wokshop in San Francisco (http://www.wokshop.com/HTML/products/woks/woks.html) .. I know the owners and their customer service is great.. they are really great people but other woks are available all over the net and probably locally... just don't buy/use a "non-stick" wok 'cause at that heat the coating will disappear instantly and you'll kill every bird within a few blocks.

One last thing.. anyone using these for heating oil to deep fry a turkey, be SURE you have a very sturdy base and be very careful or you can burn down your (and your neighbor's) house if it tips over.
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Old 04-24-2005, 06:51 AM   #17
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Oh, dear; a story only you guys can truly appreciate. When we were on the road, we found ourselves camping outside of Seattle. We'd been told over and over that Vancouver's ChinaTown was super. So we hopped into the truck to go to Vancouver. As we crossed the border, a no-nonsense Canadian border guard asked us our business in Canada. We replied, honestly, that we'd heard there was great Chinese food in Vancouver. She was NOT amused, looked totally peeved, like we were making fun of her. So we meekly said "tourism" and she let us pass. But honestly, we were going for the Chinese food!!!!!! And it was delish. There was a salt-encrusted shrimp dish I've never had elsewhere. But I'll never forget that woman's face. She simply didn't believe we'd cross the border for Chinese food!
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Old 04-24-2005, 09:56 AM   #18
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You're "spot on" there, Claire... Vancouver, BC has an Asian population that equals or exceeds San Francisco's, the highest in the US (both are over 30% as I recall) and Vancouver is LOADED with some *excellent* restaurants...

I've lived in San Francisco for a few years and also visit Vancouver BC often.. and I'm not sure which city has the BEST Chinese restaurants... but it's definitely worth the two+ hour drive from Seattle to explore some of their Asian cuisine.... border agents aside.

And the exchange rate is still very favorable, with $1.00 buying about $1.25 worth of Canadian goods, plus their prices are lower too.. Of course almost ANYPLACE has lower prices than San Francisco
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Old 04-24-2005, 12:09 PM   #19
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I love that quote, Iron chef...I'm going to remember that one....
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Old 04-24-2005, 01:46 PM   #20
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I highly recommend clicking on the link lutzzz provided http://www.wokshop.com/HTML/products/woks/woks.html - GREAT reading on the seasoning, use, and cleaning of a wok. Great site to look at too - I want that wok set!!!!!! lol
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