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Old 02-25-2017, 12:23 PM   #21
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I use a non-stick pseudo-wok with a flat bottom over an ordinary gas burner.

My Asian food tastes as good to me as restaurant Asian. Often better. Maybe part of that is the boost you get from doing your own.

I once spent a whole month cooking Thai only, for the experience. I'm not just a casual Asian enthusiast. If I had to pick just one cuisine to eat for the rest of my life Asian would win hands down.
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Old 02-26-2017, 02:53 AM   #22
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There was a thread about this probably 10 years ago or so. I think myself and "our" Iron Chef were the only ones who said that most dishes cooked in a wok were more judged on the sauce that was created in the wok rather than the temp that the ingredients were cooked at.

I've tried a few experiments with this with a few friends, one of which has worked in many Chinese restaurants over the years, therefore an expert at wok cooking. The rest of us were just experts at eating wokked food.

I bought sauces that I had a local restaurant make on low temp in their woks (I coached the owner's son) then I cooked some stir fries in my wok on a regular old consumer stovetop.

No one could tell the difference between my stir fry and one made over a jet burner in the restaurant.

Ok, so, I doubt I could recreate all Chinese dishes successfully, especially fried rice, but my point is that it's more about the sauce than the wok temp in many wok dishes.
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Old 02-26-2017, 08:29 AM   #23
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I agree BT. The problem I have with "Chinese" dishes is re-creating the sauces. the ones at the local restaurant may not be original but its the ones we like.
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Old 02-26-2017, 11:29 AM   #24
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I agree with that, too, bt. The oil also makes a big difference, imo. I grew up in Michigan and used corn oil for everything when I first started cooking on my own. Then, sometime in the early '90s, I bought a short, paperback book simply called "Stir-Fry Recipes." It has great tips and recipes that I've been using ever since.

One of the tips was to use peanut oil. The first time I made stir-fry with peanut oil, I thought, this is what was missing. Now it tastes like real Chinese restaurant food. Having authentic ingredients for the sauce is just as important.
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Old 02-26-2017, 11:36 AM   #25
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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.
My gas Jenn-Air stove has a burner that is rated for 40,000 BTUs.
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Old 02-26-2017, 08:54 PM   #26
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There was a thread about this probably 10 years ago or so. I think myself and "our" Iron Chef were the only ones who said that most dishes cooked in a wok were more judged on the sauce that was created in the wok rather than the temp that the ingredients were cooked at.
I agree with this and with the subsequent agreements.

You don't need mega-heat to cook authentic Asian food. In fact in all the Asian cooking shows I used to watch I never saw mega-heat mentioned once.

As you all do, I value my own personal experience over what I read on the Internet. I am capable of comparing restaurant food with my own cooking. High heat was not a factor.

If you want to be successful at cooking you have to believe your own experience and judgement. Otherwise you are just reading recipes and following them.

There is a lot going on with authentic Asian cooking but zillion degree woks is not one of them.
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Old 02-26-2017, 10:35 PM   #27
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I make pretty decent chinese food. And, yet, I am sure the high heat would make difference.
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Old 02-27-2017, 12:31 AM   #28
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I tend to believe what Kenji from Serious Eats says:

"Wanna know why your Chinese food never tastes as good as it does at the restaurant? It's not better ingredients, it's not ancient Chinese secrets, it's not even MSG (though all of those things can help). It's this: ridiculously high heat. And we're not talking Atlanta on a hot day high heat, we're talking campfire-set-by-a-Red-Dragon-who-came-straight-from-the-depths-of-Mount-Doom-if-Mount-Doom-were-on-the-sun hot."

He recommends using the grill (as Medtran mentioned above). Full article here:
The Food Lab: For the Best Stir-Fry, Fire Up the Grill | Serious Eats
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Old 02-27-2017, 03:18 AM   #29
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I tend to believe what Kenji from Serious Eats says:... [/url]
I usually do, too. However, he says that the flavor of stews does not change overnight in the fridge. I also disagree with that one.
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Old 02-27-2017, 07:24 AM   #30
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I usually do, too. However, he says that the flavor of stews does not change overnight in the fridge. I also disagree with that one.
Right. But we aren't talking about stew. And I happen to think he's correct about this.

Pretty much every Chinese restaurant in the world uses high heat. There's obviously a reason for it, other than getting food out the door quickly, or I doubt most of these little mom and pop places would spend the money on specialized equipment. I happen to believe the food in Chinese restaurants has a different texture than when the same food is prepared on your typical home stove. Home-cooked Chinese tends to have a mushier feel because it's steamed in the pan, as the article points out.

Another, albeit different, example is with Tandoor cooking. Sure, you can capture much of the same flavor at home without buying an expensive clay oven, but it's not exactly the same, because the cooking technique is not the same.
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Old 02-27-2017, 08:03 AM   #31
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My Asian food tastes as good to me as restaurant Asian. Often better. Maybe part of that is the boost you get from doing your own.
Greg, I think you're onto something here. My guess is that if you had grown up in the Chinese culture (and maybe you did, I don't know) you would be able to taste the difference.

I happen to think I cook pretty good Indian food, or at least it tastes good to me. For the last several years the Indians I work with have invited me to bring a dish to their annual Diwali potluck. I've talked to them, and most will say that I make pretty good Indian food - and like you, I feel it's as good or better than some of the other homemade dishes. But if I press them about the authenticity, they will usually just smile and say it's close. That signals to me that I do okay, but I'm sure my food doesn't conjure up memories of something they grew up with. Rather it's my own interpretation of something from their culture. Good, but not 100% authentic.
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Old 02-27-2017, 08:05 AM   #32
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Right. But we aren't talking about stew. And I happen to think he's correct about this.

Pretty much every Chinese restaurant in the world uses high heat. There's obviously a reason for it, other than getting food out the door quickly, or I doubt most of these little mom and pop places would spend the money on specialized equipment. I happen to believe the food in Chinese restaurants has a different texture than when the same food is prepared on your typical home stove. Home-cooked Chinese tends to have a mushier feel because it's steamed in the pan, as the article points out.

Another, albeit different, example is with Tandoor cooking. Sure, you can capture much of the same flavor at home without buying an expensive clay oven, but it's not exactly the same, because the cooking technique is not the same.

I totally agree with you and Kenji

Screaming high heat and Wok hei account for the difference in restaurant Chinese and home Chinese

Sauces too
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Old 02-27-2017, 08:29 AM   #33
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Right. But we aren't talking about stew. And I happen to think he's correct about this.
Well, obviously. I was talking about the fact that, while I like Kenji a lot, it's possible for him to be wrong.

Quote:
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Pretty much every Chinese restaurant in the world uses high heat. There's obviously a reason for it, other than getting food out the door quickly, or I doubt most of these little mom and pop places would spend the money on specialized equipment. I happen to believe the food in Chinese restaurants has a different texture than when the same food is prepared on your typical home stove. Home-cooked Chinese tends to have a mushier feel because it's steamed in the pan, as the article points out.
You've nailed the difference. I'm not interested in making stir-fry like a Chinese takeout restaurant does. I prefer my cooking to resemble the home cooking of the various cuisines I make. The wok was invented in part to solve the problem of not having a whole lot of fuel available, so high-heat cooking was not the goal and propane stoves were obviously not available hundreds of years ago. Efficiency was the goal.

I can assure you that my stir fries are not steamed or mushy.
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Old 02-27-2017, 08:50 AM   #34
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This is from a discussion on eGullet:
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Old 02-27-2017, 03:36 PM   #35
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Another, albeit different, example is with Tandoor cooking. Sure, you can capture much of the same flavor at home without buying an expensive clay oven, but it's not exactly the same, because the cooking technique is not the same.
Yeah, you got that right. There is no way to produce tandoor quality recipes unless you have a tandoor. From time to time I toy with the idea of building one.

I do have a tandoori-inspired chicken recipe on my website, and it's pretty good, but it is not really tandoori.

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Greg, I think you're onto something here. My guess is that if you had grown up in the Chinese culture (and maybe you did, I don't know) you would be able to taste the difference.
I've lived my whole life in an area with a very high Asian population. It's my favorite cuisine. But I'm your ordinary roots in Europe type of American.
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Old 02-27-2017, 04:00 PM   #36
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I don't have a jet engine-type burner in my kitchen. I cook with a wok regularly. I get around the lack of high heat by cooking the ingredients in batches. Each veggie is quickly stir fried separately. Then the protein. Then it's all combined with the sauce. That way I can kept the wok hotter and avoid mushy stir fries.

Does it taste like a restaurant? Yes, if I am get the sauce right.
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Old 02-27-2017, 04:25 PM   #37
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I stage my ingredients according to cooking time, longest first. I also sometimes remove and set aside ingredients to be added again at a later stage.

For example, maybe I'll marinate my shrimp in mirin, rice wine, maybe rice vinegar, and then just before cooking roll the shrimp in cornstarch. Start the wok with some oil and quickly saute some garlic until limp then toss in the shrimp and cook them until a nice covering forms, then remove them. (Or maybe minced garlic is part of the marinade, probably more often the case.) I might even totally clean the wok before continuing (because garlic left in can burn in later stages of cooking). I'll continue cooking, almost always with some kind of liquid, and at some point (usually near to finishing) I'll add the shrimp back in.

I invent my methods as I go, I change them until they work. It's not unusual for me to cook a recipe 20 even 30 times before it's good enough for my website.

Note that the way I develop recipes is I Google similar recipes and take notes on perhaps 1-2 dozen variations, then I consider and write up a draft version. That's the first time I cook it. Then I refine the recipe going back to my notes on the original recipes and my notes each time I cook the recipe, until I eventually close in on my final recipe.

Sometimes a recipe just never makes it to a final version. But when it does it is my unique recipe, it didn't come from a cookbook or online, it is by no means traditional, but it is my original creation. All it has to do is taste good. It doesn't need a pedigree.
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Old 02-27-2017, 04:53 PM   #38
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Greg! That is exactly what I do but certainly in a mini-version. I will google many recipes. I choose up to 10 and I make a chart of all their ingredients, then I sit and pick the ingredients that I like and in quantities that I like. I also list the steps I want to take and the order of ingredients... But no, I do not try the recipe 20 or 30 times. If it doesn't work the first time it never gets done again. (well, almost never ) although if they are minor errors/additions/subtractions then I make a note of them to the recipe for the next time.

So yes, a lot of my recipes are mine. I do have many that are good as is and I'm not ashamed or too proud to credit!

Unfortunately most of my friends just love my cooking and are not critical enough for my tastes. Rarely do I agree a recipe I've "created" is fantastic! They just like being cooked for and of course rave about it. So I don't really mind - it still feeds my ego .

So sometimes I would like to have someone with a more discerning palate (even though I would probably curl up in shame, but hopefully it would teach me to be more... um... ____ could someone fill in a word here for me?... )
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Old 02-27-2017, 04:54 PM   #39
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Betcha none of you knew that Chief Longwind of the North had a Canadian cousin.
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Old 02-27-2017, 05:04 PM   #40
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Greg! That is exactly what I do but certainly in a mini-version. I will google many recipes. I choose up to 10 and I make a chart of all their ingredients, then I sit and pick the ingredients that I like and in quantities that I like. I also list the steps I want to take and the order of ingredients... But no, I do not try the recipe 20 or 30 times. If it doesn't work the first time it never gets done again. (well, almost never ) although if they are minor errors/additions/subtractions then I make a note of them to the recipe for the next time.
I'm very interested in creating my own original recipes and recognize that like Thomas Edison said, "Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety nine percent perspiration." The genius comes from the Internet, the rest comes from beating my head on the wall until my recipe is perfect. I like the challenge of laying claim to a recipe being mine and mine alone.

I post them on my website, which I'm considering phasing out next renewal. I think of it as a public service, but as I age I seek a less complicated life.

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So sometimes I would like to have someone with a more discerning palate (even though I would probably curl up in shame, but hopefully it would teach me to be more... um... ____ could someone fill in a word here for me?... )
Lepidote? SRSLY at least give us a hint!

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Betcha none of you knew that Chief Longwind of the North had a Canadian cousin.
You mean Chef Longweed?

Yes I go back that far on this forum.
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