Wok Hei

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Jade Emperor

Sous Chef
Joined
Apr 12, 2023
Messages
577
Location
Australia
Hello!
Some may remember that I purchased a high powered wok burner some time ago.
I had to get it altered by a friend who works in gas, because it was VERY dodgy as it came. Probably would have exploded, it was really badly made.
But now that everything has been addressed, it’s a winner!
The extreme heat gives the wok hei.
For those who may be wondering, wok hei is really hard to describe, but it’s essential for delightful Asian food. The closest I might get to a description is that it’s like a bbq smoke. I can guarantee that the use of the ultra hot burner makes your own Asian food taste more like the favourite restaurant.
It’s because I have a serious bent on Asian dishes that I purchased this, but if you are in the wheelhouse for amazing Asian cooking, a high powered wok burner is a really great essential.
 
I'd like to have a wok burner, but don't have room for any more cooking toys. I am pretty sure I already know what your safety issue was. My crawfish boil burner (also good as a turkey frier burner) was sketchy when I got it. Made in China burners aren't as good as Chinese food, it seems.

I have a couple of Weber Kettles, and Weber makes a wok kit. I can pile red hot coals under the wok, and get some screaming BTUs. It is a cast iron wok, so it can really store up some heat. Not what you'd find in a good Chinese restaurant, and may not deliver that coveted wok hei, but it does a pretty good job.

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A basic shrimp stir fry.

CD
 
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Yeah, it's an essential ingredient for stir frying in my opinion and especially for fried rice, love it.
Yes, I have been searching for that special ingredient to really elevate my Asian food and I knew that really intense heat was needed
 
I'd like to have a wok burner, but don't have room for any more cooking toys. I am pretty sure I already know what your safety issue was. My crawfish boil burner (also good as a turkey frier burner) was sketchy when I got it. Made in China burners aren't as good as Chinese food, it seems.
The lovely friend who worked on my Chinese made gas burner was horrified by what he found, and said it should probably never have cleared customs.
He said that if anyone had gotten it to work without consulting someone who knows what they are doing, it would probably explode or cause a massive fire.
Luckily, he fitted it out properly with all the valves and ignition equipment that made it safe.

(Your shrimp stir fry looks delicious!)
 
I wish I had a High powered wok burner. Thats why it always tastes like I tried to make Chinese food, but never quite go to the restaurant level. I had a friend ( 25 years ago) from China, and I asked him why my Chinese never really hits its mark. Thats when he explained that my crappy electric burner will never come close to the heat they use at the restaurant , which makes a big difference .
 
I wish I had a High powered wok burner. Thats why it always tastes like I tried to make Chinese food, but never quite go to the restaurant level. I had a friend ( 25 years ago) from China, and I asked him why my Chinese never really hits its mark. Thats when he explained that my crappy electric burner will never come close to the heat they use at the restaurant , which makes a big difference .
It absolutely does.
I have made about four meals since my wok burner has been fixed up, and the difference from my stove top burner is just insane.
The flavour is amazingly different and “wok hei” breath of the dragon is so much there.
It is probably not equipment that everyone needs, but if you’re like me and want to explore authentic Asian cuisine, a high powered wok burner is definitely essential.
 
If we want to go all in, Craig will drag out the propane burner. He always complains though that the heat makes the hair on his forearms curl up and fall off. 😆

Otherwise, we use the 1800 watt setting on the induction burner on high, which gets to about 500 F.
 
I think this question is interesting, but happy to be proven otherwise.

“How would you describe the flavour of wok hei?”

I just can’t think of a word to describe it.
 
Whats funny is you can use the same ingredients and make the same exact dish, the only difference is the surface/ heat you're cooking hit on, and the major impact it has on the final taste. its subtle, yet significant ( at least in my opinion).
 
Unless I were to taste them side by side ( a dish on the hi-wok and (good) family stove) I probably would never be able to tell the difference. Even then, my palate would probably go for the lesser, as that is what it is familiar with.
I know that is sad but what can you do?
 
I wish I had a High powered wok burner. Thats why it always tastes like I tried to make Chinese food, but never quite go to the restaurant level. I had a friend ( 25 years ago) from China, and I asked him why my Chinese never really hits its mark. Thats when he explained that my crappy electric burner will never come close to the heat they use at the restaurant , which makes a big difference .
Your "crappy electric burner" can probably get a lot hotter than the gas burner on a home gas stove. I sort of follow a Chinese cooking channel on YouTube called Chinese Cooking Demystified. They say not to worry about wok hei. Millions of Chinese home cooks don't achieve it and don't worry about it. Wok hei is for restaurants. It's part of the appeal of going to a resto in China, as opposed to cooking at home.
 
Thank you, taxy. It is what I sort of felt. Most Chinese home stoves are not capable. Mind you, they probably have very old and passed down "seasoned" woks that themselves introduce the flavour that the hi=heat ones do.
 
Glad you got that fixed, JE! I was wondering what had happened with it.

What output is the high heat burner? I got one called a BIG KAHUNA BURNER, which is 60,000 BTU/hr, and that one was the first one that gave me "that flavor" - even the relatively high 20k burners on my range only give it a hint of it, and it takes a smaller amount, and a longer cook time. The 60k burner, with a 20" wok, cooks with about a 6 to 7 inch diameter spot that is basically non-stick, from the food bouncing around and vaporizing upon contact with it, thus giving that unique flavor.
 

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