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Wok cooking - are home stoves really not hot enough?


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36 replies to this topic

#31 liuzhou

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Posted 06 September 2013 - 11:11 AM

I never found the flat bottom woks to be very effective, but it never occured to me to use one on gas stove; I thought they were designed for electric stoves.

 

It is almost impossible to find round bottomed woks in China any more. All are flat bottomed or nearly so - some have a flat section at the very bottom, then round up a bit.

Induction cookers are to blame. They are the fashion. Once it was to have a bicycle, then a radio, then a tractor, then a phone, then a motorcycle, then a house, then a car.

Just before cars came free-standing induction cookers. Ideal for plonking down in the middle of the table for hot pots. But the woks would fall over, so they flattened them. I have spent the last two weeks trying to find a traditional round bottomed wok and failed.

 

Prior to the induction cookers, all cooking was done by gas or directly from fossil fuels and wood etc. I've never seen an electric cooker in China (apart from table top induction cookers n the last few years.)


Edited by liuzhou, 06 September 2013 - 11:18 AM.


#32 kleinebre

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Posted 06 September 2013 - 04:37 PM

A month ago I tried wokking on the BBQ for that "Wok Hei" thing (as per "the food lab"/Kenji Lopez suggestion). It was basically a disaster, but I found two useful facts based on measurements I made with my laser/infrared thermometer:

 

1. The BBQ heats up to considerably higher temperatures than the hob.

2. However, with the miniature BBQ I used, the wok itself heated up considerably more on my hob than it did on the BBQ.

 

Which is to say, temperature alone doesn't do it. From whatever heat source you use, you need sufficient total heat output to quickly get the wok back up to cooking temperatures. Suddenly the bicycle-pump pressured jet burners used in Asia are starting to make a LOT more sense.

 

LiuZhou: That's funny, from all the Chinese I've seen when I lived in Asia, most of them would get a nice car before they'd get a house looking good not only on the inside, but the outside as well (i.e. not box-shaped, if you see what I mean). I may be biased though as I never lived in China.


Edited by kleinebre, 06 September 2013 - 04:44 PM.


#33 Dave Hatfield

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 12:41 PM

I'm a complete novice at wok cooking only having started trying to cook Chinese dishes recently, but for what they're worth here are my observations.

 

I'm stuck with a induction hob. I bought a 'flat' bottomed carbon steel wok. I did quite a bit of on line research before seasoning. Can't say that I was wildly successful in that effort, but the wok seems to be coming around as I use it. Its now at a point where almost nothing sticks to it and I can easily clean it with warm water & a soft cloth.

 

I think one of my main problems is that my induction hob is not linear in its heating. The difference between a '7' setting & an '8' setting is not proportional. Don't know if this is a common problem or not. The 8 is too hot & many times the 7 too low. What I have learned though experience is that using the wok on my largest burner works better than using it on the burner that seems to fit it best. Go figure?

 

In any case I'm beginning to be happy with the results and I'm beginning to get a good sense of how much I can cook at a time.

 

I'm still mystified as to how people get what look to be extremely fast cooking without burning or sticking. My wok will stick or form a coating if I try to use too much heat.

 

Any advice anyone would care to give me would be greatly appreciated.



#34 patrickamory

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 02:19 PM

I think that as the seasoning builds, your wok will get more and more nonstick.

 

I recommend cleaning it while it's still hot, with just hot water and a paper towel. Directly after you dump the final contents on to a plate. If you use a bamboo wok brush, be gentle - it can remove quite a bit of seasoning.



#35 Dave Hatfield

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Posted 08 September 2013 - 02:00 AM

I think that as the seasoning builds, your wok will get more and more nonstick.

 

I recommend cleaning it while it's still hot, with just hot water and a paper towel. Directly after you dump the final contents on to a plate. If you use a bamboo wok brush, be gentle - it can remove quite a bit of seasoning.

Thanks for the advice. I'll try that as I've been waiting until the wok cools and using a soft cloth.



#36 liuzhou

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Posted 08 September 2013 - 02:05 AM

Yes, definitely don't wait till the wok cools. Clean it immediately after you empty it, as Patrick recommends.. 

 

I use my wok two or three meals a day, when I'm home. Always clean immediately. I've had it for years now and nothing ever sticks.



#37 PeppersGalore

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 09:26 AM

When you thin about it, your 200k BTU burners won't have been around that long but Chinese cuisine has a long history.  These powerfull burners have only made the sitr-frying techniques quicker.  Barbara Tropp states in her book that stir-frying is the product of "labour-rich and fuel poor country.  Add together the the many Chinese hands ready to chop, the few Chinese twigs or lumps of Chinese coal available to burn, and a never-ending quantity of oil capable of being heated to hellishly hot degrees, and one arrives at stir-frying...................There are no tools required beyond those typically found in a Western kitchen".