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Old 04-15-2005, 06:27 AM   #1
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Secret Chinese Fragrance?

hi , thankyou every one for the replies, i want to know the fragrance i get when i eat at chinese restuarants........what is that , why i cant get at home.....when i cook......i mean in chinese chow mein and fired rice ......how can they get that ...whats the secret ????

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Old 04-15-2005, 10:13 AM   #2
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I suspect the reason you're not getting the same "taste" is that your wok won't get/isn't getting hot enough. I have to use my turkey fryer gas burner (outside) to get the 600-700+ degree temperatures you need for the "hay" (I think that's the word for the unique flavor in most "good" Chinese restaurants.. I recall the Frugal Gourmet [Jeff Smith] called it "chow" or something... but I think that's the term for just cooking rapidly?.. I'm out of my league here in terminology so someone who knows could clear that up.)

Stovetops (most gas and probably all electrics), aren't designed to heat enough of the bottom of a wok or produce the BTU's to get it sufficiently hot in order to achieve "wok hay"..
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Old 04-15-2005, 11:03 AM   #3
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I would say that the fragrance is sesame oil and ginger. These are the two things that you don't see often in american cooking. You need to be VERY careful with both items...too much can spoil a dish in a heartbeat. Just the right amount will make you say............'hmmmmmmm that tastes great! Now what is it?'
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Old 04-15-2005, 12:09 PM   #4
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Another thing might be to find a good peanut oil, and by good I mean one that has that distinctive nutty smell.

It's amazing what peanut oil, ginger and garlic can smell like. I think having it made a big difference in the recipes I made and am glad I splurged on some.

Toasted sesame oil is definitely another must have. It is generally used very sparingly, but that dash of flavor (and smell) is not something that you can really substitute or leave out and still keep things "authentic".


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Old 04-15-2005, 12:11 PM   #5
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No matter WHAT ingredients or oil you use.. it's not the same (IMHO)...

This site makes interesting reading.. as do others on the topic on the net....
http://www.graceyoung.com/excerptsBreath.html
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Old 04-15-2005, 03:33 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sohailgagai
hi , thankyou every one for the replies, i want to know the fragrance i get when i eat at chinese restuarants........what is that , why i cant get at home.....when i cook......i mean in chinese chow mein and fired rice ......how can they get that ...whats the secret ????
Part of taste comes from aromas. You will never duplicate that "restaurant" experience exactly at home, even if you followed the recipe exactly for chow mein and fried rice from your favorite Chinese restaurant, because you will be missing other "aromatic" components that combine with the flavors of the foods as you eat them.

Think of the aromas in the air ... it's a combination of all the dishes being prepared ... pork, beef, chicken, duck, various seafoods ... various vegetables, spices, oils, sauces, and eggs. Then there are differences in the aromas from one ingredient produced by different cooking methods ... such as peanut oil used in a stir-fry compared to how it smells in the deep fryer.

I know that I have eaten a lot of Chinese take-out, and it never seems to taste or smell the same as when I eat the same dish in the restaurant.
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Old 04-15-2005, 03:57 PM   #7
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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.
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Old 04-15-2005, 07:59 PM   #8
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I agree about using MSG to get that authentic flavor, but I don't think it would do anything to recreate the aroma.
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Old 04-16-2005, 05:52 AM   #9
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thanks all , lutzzz u gave the best idea , thanks , i think its the art of stir fry ....!!! what do u say ??
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Old 04-16-2005, 10:23 AM   #10
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Well thank you, sohailgagai.... and you're welcome for sure!

All I can do is pass on my opinions, observations, and what I learned chatting with a few Chinese chefs in San Francisco.

Before I "semi-retired", I used to spend a great deal of time working in San Francisco... and I lived at the Hyatt on Union Square hotel.. about a 5 block walk down to Chinatown. It's been acknowledged that San Francisco's Chinatown produces some of the best Chinese cuisine in the US.

Having to eat ALL my meals at various restaurants, I more often than not picked out some "off-the-wall" Chinese restaurants in Chinatown (ones where 99% of the patrons were Asian and ate their rice holding their bowl in one hand near their face and, using chop sticks, could run a steady stream of rice into their mouth, their chop sticks in a blur ... the Caucasian "tourists" ate at the more expensive restaurants on the main drag... which ALSO produced outstanding food but at twice the expense).

Over time I got to know a couple of the chefs in some of those restaurants.. and I got a tour of their kitchens... I encourage anyone eating at a GOOD Chinese restaurant to see if they can tour the kitchen... in those kitchens, the chefs cook with their woks positioned over HUGE holes in a stainless counter thing... and in each "hole" was some kind of "fire blaster" that belched flame and sounded like a jet engine when fired up.

The chef had a foot pedal he could step on, like a gas pedal on a car, which obviously released gas of some kind (probably propane) into the "jet engine" heating his wok.. and in one big "whoosh" (I mean you could hear it and see it.. definitely... there would be a blast of flame and his wok would turn a light redhot color with little wisps of smoke coming off it.. then he'd toss in his oil, meat, veggies, seasonings, etc. and VERY quickly toss them around.. sometimes removing some items and re-introducing more oil, seasoning, and other items, but ALWAYS in this semi-red hot wok. When he was finished, usually in about 60 seconds it seemed, he'd take his foot off the "gas pedal" and the fire would die back down to a pilot light.

And THAT, explained a couple of pretty good San Francisco Chinatown chefs, is what produces what is called the "hay" in good Chinese wok cooking.

So, next time I decided to cook stir fry at home, I fired up my outside 120,000 BTU turkey fryer propane burner, tossed on my el cheapo carbon steel wok and fired it up and cooked over VERY high heat...and THAT was the best stir fry I ever made anyway.. and came the closest I ever came to the professional kitchens where I ate in San Francisco...

So, that's the experience upon what I base my "humble opinion" ... other folk's mileage obviously varies... which makes cooking and sharing info and recipes so much fun!
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