"Discover Cooking, Discuss Life."

Go Back   Discuss Cooking - Cooking Forums > Recipes & Ingredients > International Cuisines and Ethnic Cookery
Click Here to Login
Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 03-05-2016, 11:33 PM   #1
Executive Chef
 
larry_stewart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Long Island, New York
Posts: 3,964
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

larry_stewart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-06-2016, 08:52 AM   #2
Certified Pretend Chef
 
Andy M.'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 47,711
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.
__________________
"If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe." -Carl Sagan
Andy M. is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 03-06-2016, 09:08 AM   #3
Wine Guy
 
Steve Kroll's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Twin Cities, Minnesota
Posts: 6,345
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.
Steve Kroll is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-06-2016, 10:34 AM   #4
Certified Pretend Chef
 
Andy M.'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 47,711
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://IWASNOTSSL-www.amazon.com/Bayou-Classic-...r+turkey+fryer

Holy cow! This one has a 185,000 BTU capacity!
__________________
"If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe." -Carl Sagan
Andy M. is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 03-06-2016, 10:37 AM   #5
Executive Chef
 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: New Hampshire Seacoast
Posts: 2,510
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.
tenspeed is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-06-2016, 10:46 AM   #6
Chef Extraordinaire
 
GotGarlic's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Southeastern Virginia
Posts: 25,343
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://IWASNOTSSL-www.seriouseats.com/2012/06/t...the-grill.html
__________________
Anyplace where people argue about food is a good place.
~ Anthony Bourdain, Parts Unknown, 2018
GotGarlic is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 03-06-2016, 06:50 PM   #7
Chef Extraordinaire
 
jennyema's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Boston and Cape Cod
Posts: 10,196
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.
__________________
Less is not more. More is more and more is fabulous.
jennyema is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-06-2016, 06:54 PM   #8
Master Chef
 
CharlieD's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: USA,Minnesota
Posts: 9,665
Can we have a Like button? sometimes there is nothing to say but to give thumbs up.
__________________
You are what you eat.
CharlieD is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-06-2016, 07:58 PM   #9
Executive Chef
 
larry_stewart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Long Island, New York
Posts: 3,964
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.
larry_stewart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-06-2016, 10:49 PM   #10
Sous Chef
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
Location: Ohio
Posts: 572
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.
jd_1138 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2017, 09:01 AM   #11
Executive Chef
 
dragnlaw's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Montreal
Posts: 4,737
reading some older posts... and have an update on my stove and the wok subject here.

Am super super pleased with my new stove having a double burner. Meaning a small ring flame in the centre of a bigger one.

I have a cast iron wok and this burner gets it so much hotter than anything I've had before. Including the metal woks with rings to rest them on the burners with the intention of containing and directing the heat.

I'm a happy camper!
__________________
Meddle not in the affairs of dragons for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.
dragnlaw is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2017, 02:45 PM   #12
Executive Chef
 
larry_stewart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Long Island, New York
Posts: 3,964
I saw this thread pop up, i read the titled and said " what a great question" just to realized Im the one who posted it

I got electric, so ill never get the heat i need.
larry_stewart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2017, 07:25 PM   #13
Sous Chef
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
Location: Ohio
Posts: 572
Our local favorite Chinese restaurant uses super hot woks. There's like huge flames coming out of the bottom. It's gas powered, and you can see the flames jumping out when they remove the woks. I think it imparts a sort of char flavor and the veggies get a little singed. The high heat allows the food to cook really quickly, so that's probably another reason they use such high heat. So it will cook faster.

I was watching a documentary about China, and they showed an 1800's kitchen in China. The wok was placed basically atop a wood stove, and they'd make a nice big fire in there with wood and there was a round hole that the wok sat in. So it's always been a super hot cooking method, I think.
jd_1138 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2017, 07:30 PM   #14
Executive Chef
 
medtran49's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Florida
Posts: 4,669
We're going to try it on the induction burner. It supposedly will get close to 600 degrees at its highest wattage/temp. Will report when we do.
medtran49 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2017, 07:40 PM   #15
Master Chef
 
caseydog's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2017
Location: Dallas
Posts: 5,654
Quote:
Originally Posted by jd_1138 View Post
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.
I have a Weber Wok kit for my Weber Kettle grill. It kind of replicates what you describe. You can get a lot of BTUs from charcoal. The wok itself is cast iron, too, which loads up with heat.

I've only used it a couple of times, so far, but it has done a pretty good job.

CD

.
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	WeberWok.jpg
Views:	149
Size:	111.5 KB
ID:	26264  
__________________
“People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.” Winnie-the-Pooh
caseydog is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2017, 07:49 PM   #16
Executive Chef
 
medtran49's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Florida
Posts: 4,669
You can really bump up the heat short term with wood chunks. Craig gets around 800 plus with wood in the BGE, maybe even a bit higher.
medtran49 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2017, 07:56 PM   #17
Master Chef
 
caseydog's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2017
Location: Dallas
Posts: 5,654
Quote:
Originally Posted by medtran49 View Post
You can really bump up the heat short term with wood chunks. Craig gets around 800 plus with wood in the BGE, maybe even a bit higher.
Those Eggs can really generate some heat. They can also really empty your wallet.

CD
__________________
“People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.” Winnie-the-Pooh
caseydog is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2017, 10:44 PM   #18
Executive Chef
 
Greg Who Cooks's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: in my kitchen
Posts: 3,794
I cook Chinese all the time and don't need high heat under the wok at all.

Furthermore, you know they use rice wine in some of the dishes. In a hot wok that can produce enough alcohol vapor to ignite. Are you sure that's not what you are seeing?

Don't confuse the usual short cooking time of Asian food with high heat. I used to have a signature, "Chinese chef chop food for 2 hours, then cook for 10 minutes." The chopping produces small, bite sized bits of food that cook very quickly.

Related, chopsticks prevent scooping up big American full mouth bites of food, so each time you pick up food with chopsticks you get a slightly different mixture of the various pieces of the dish.

But really, high heat is not a requirement to cook good Chinese food, or in my experience it has been no problem producing restaurant grade food at home. I'm not saying your wok needs or doesn't need high heat, but nothing more than your average stove can produce.

Main difference probably is that they're in a hurry and higher heat cooks it sooner. Same as my Wolf cooktop. Produces a lot more heat than a typical stove so I can get up to heat quicker. Doesn't mean food on my Wolf is any better than your average stove.
Greg Who Cooks is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-25-2017, 01:35 AM   #19
Executive Chef
 
medtran49's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Florida
Posts: 4,669
No, JD is right. It looks like flames from a jet propane burner. If JD saw the same show I did, there was also a modern kitchen and they sat the woks over holes on a coking surface, but you could see the flames down in there.

Our SIL has something similar to what Steve has. That thing is scary. Between the WHOOSH it makes when he lights it up and the heat radiating from it you can feel even 10' away, I don't even want to go near it!
medtran49 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-25-2017, 01:53 AM   #20
Master Chef
 
caseydog's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2017
Location: Dallas
Posts: 5,654
Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Who Cooks View Post
I cook Chinese all the time and don't need high heat under the wok at all.
From my own limited experience, I tend to agree. And, I don't think I could get the kind of results a skilled wok chef can get, even if I had 100,000 BTUs. The first time I used my Weber wok over scorching hot charcoal, I was a nervous wreck. It turned out pretty good, but I would bet that a 10-dollar-an-hour cook at the local Rice Kitchen could cook circles around me.

My saying is, to become a good cook, you have to be willing to ruin a lot of groceries along the way.

CD
__________________
“People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.” Winnie-the-Pooh
caseydog is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
chinese, cook, cooking, food

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off




All times are GMT -5. The time now is 01:03 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.