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larry_stewart 03-05-2016 11:33 PM

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

Andy M. 03-06-2016 08:52 AM

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.

Steve Kroll 03-06-2016 09:08 AM

Some of those wok restaurant ranges (not to be confused with "Walker, Texas Ranger" :lol:) 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 StarŪ 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.

Andy M. 03-06-2016 10:34 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Steve Kroll (Post 1457865)
...I have one of these at home:
Dark StarŪ Burner 2.0 : Northern Brewer...

Very similar to the turkey fryer burner I mentioned. Here's an example:

https://www.amazon.com/Bayou-Classic-...r+turkey+fryer

Holy cow! This one has a 185,000 BTU capacity!

tenspeed 03-06-2016 10:37 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Steve Kroll (Post 1457865)
I have one of these at home:
Dark StarŪ 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.

GotGarlic 03-06-2016 10:46 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Andy M. (Post 1457863)
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.

https://www.seriouseats.com/2012/06/t...the-grill.html

jennyema 03-06-2016 06:50 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Andy M. (Post 1457863)

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.

CharlieD 03-06-2016 06:54 PM

Can we have a Like button? sometimes there is nothing to say but to give thumbs up.

larry_stewart 03-06-2016 07:58 PM

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.

jd_1138 03-06-2016 10:49 PM

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.

dragnlaw 02-24-2017 09:01 AM

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!

larry_stewart 02-24-2017 02:45 PM

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 :smile:

I got electric, so ill never get the heat i need.

jd_1138 02-24-2017 07:25 PM

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.

medtran49 02-24-2017 07:30 PM

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.

caseydog 02-24-2017 07:40 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Quote:

Originally Posted by jd_1138 (Post 1457918)
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

.

medtran49 02-24-2017 07:49 PM

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.

caseydog 02-24-2017 07:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by medtran49 (Post 1500382)
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

Greg Who Cooks 02-24-2017 10:44 PM

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.

medtran49 02-25-2017 01:35 AM

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!

caseydog 02-25-2017 01:53 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Greg Who Cooks (Post 1500418)
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


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