"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 04-15-2005, 05:27 AM   #1
Assistant Cook
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 8
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 ????

sohailgagai is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-15-2005, 09:13 AM   #2
Senior Cook
 
lutzzz's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Seattle/Edmonds
Posts: 177
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"..
__________________
"Never order chicken-fried steak in a cafe that doesn't have a jukebox."
lutzzz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-15-2005, 10:03 AM   #3
Sous Chef
 
PolishedTopaz's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: East End of Long Island
Posts: 915
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?'
__________________
Just because someone tells you that you can't do something doesn't mean you have to listen.
PolishedTopaz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-15-2005, 11:09 AM   #4
Head Chef
 
Zereh's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Bellevue, WA
Posts: 1,503
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".


Z
Zereh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-15-2005, 11:11 AM   #5
Senior Cook
 
lutzzz's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Seattle/Edmonds
Posts: 177
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
__________________
"Never order chicken-fried steak in a cafe that doesn't have a jukebox."
lutzzz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-15-2005, 02:33 PM   #6
Master Chef
 
Michael in FtW's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Fort Worth, TX
Posts: 6,592
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.
__________________
"It ain't what you don't know that gets you in trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so." - Mark Twain
Michael in FtW is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-15-2005, 02:57 PM   #7
Executive Chef
 
ironchef's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: The SPAM eating capital of the world.
Posts: 3,557
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.
__________________
"Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it."
Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
ironchef is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-15-2005, 06:59 PM   #8
Chief Eating Officer
 
GB's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: USA,Massachusetts
Posts: 25,518
I agree about using MSG to get that authentic flavor, but I don't think it would do anything to recreate the aroma.
__________________
You know you can't resist clicking
this link. Your eyes will thank you. VISUAL BLISS
GB is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-16-2005, 04:52 AM   #9
Assistant Cook
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 8
thanks all , lutzzz u gave the best idea , thanks , i think its the art of stir fry ....!!! what do u say ??
sohailgagai is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-16-2005, 09:23 AM   #10
Senior Cook
 
lutzzz's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Seattle/Edmonds
Posts: 177
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!
__________________
"Never order chicken-fried steak in a cafe that doesn't have a jukebox."
lutzzz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-17-2005, 12:53 PM   #11
Chef Extraordinaire
 
kitchenelf's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 19,725
Send a message via MSN to kitchenelf
moved to Ethnic Forum
__________________
kitchenelf

"Count yourself...you ain't so many" - quote from Buck's Daddy
kitchenelf is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-17-2005, 01:34 PM   #12
Head Chef
 
sarah's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,161
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
__________________
Don't let love interfere with your appetite. It never does with mine.
sarah is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-17-2005, 09:16 PM   #13
Executive Chef
 
AllenOK's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: USA, Oklahoma
Posts: 3,463
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.
__________________
Peace, Love, and Vegetable Rights!
Eat Meat and Save the Plants!
AllenOK is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-18-2005, 06:28 AM   #14
Certified/Certifiable
 
Chief Longwind Of The North's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: USA,Michigan
Posts: 10,904
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.

Seeeeya; Goodweed of the North
__________________
“No amount of success outside the home can compensate for failure within the home…"

Check out my blog for the friendliest cooking instruction on the net. Go ahead. You know you want to.- https://gwnorthsfamilycookin.wordpress.com/
Chief Longwind Of The North is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-18-2005, 07:09 AM   #15
Senior Cook
 
lutzzz's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Seattle/Edmonds
Posts: 177
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....
__________________
"Never order chicken-fried steak in a cafe that doesn't have a jukebox."
lutzzz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-18-2005, 11:23 AM   #16
Senior Cook
 
lutzzz's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Seattle/Edmonds
Posts: 177
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.
__________________
"Never order chicken-fried steak in a cafe that doesn't have a jukebox."
lutzzz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-24-2005, 05:51 AM   #17
Master Chef
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Galena, IL
Posts: 7,970
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!
Claire is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-24-2005, 08:56 AM   #18
Senior Cook
 
lutzzz's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Seattle/Edmonds
Posts: 177
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
__________________
"Never order chicken-fried steak in a cafe that doesn't have a jukebox."
lutzzz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-24-2005, 11:09 AM   #19
Assistant Cook
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 35
I love that quote, Iron chef...I'm going to remember that one....
__________________
We are stardust . . . we are golden . . . and we've got to get ourselves back to the garden . . .
Shellygloo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-24-2005, 12:46 PM   #20
Chef Extraordinaire
 
kitchenelf's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 19,725
Send a message via MSN to kitchenelf
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
__________________
kitchenelf

"Count yourself...you ain't so many" - quote from Buck's Daddy
kitchenelf is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
None

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 03:51 AM.


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