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hzrt8w's wok and burner shopping project

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176 replies to this topic

#31 wonderbread

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Posted 13 April 2006 - 05:09 PM

I had a nonstick flat-bottomed wok, that started to lose its Teflon coating so I threw it away.

My mom and I spent forever searching for a new one - LA, Seattle, Vancouver - and I ended up getting a cast iron one which is fantastic.

Here's a link to a similar one like mine. We found it in Vancouver, BC, at the Yaohan in Richmond.

The food really does taste different - it has that special wok hei quality to it. Stir-fried greens taste totally different b/c the water evaporates on contact instead of sitting and steaming the food.

Now all I need to do is buy myself a high BTU stove.

#32 Dejah

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Posted 13 April 2006 - 08:41 PM

wonderbread:
How much does your cast iron wok weigh? Is it as heavy as a 10 inch cast iron fry pan?

Ah Leung:
I wondered about the burners you showed in your posts. To me, they also looked like the replacement burners for my "wok tables" :unsure:
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#33 Nathan P.

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Posted 13 April 2006 - 09:08 PM

wonderbread:
How much does your cast iron wok weigh? Is it as heavy as a 10 inch cast iron fry pan?

View Post


They don't weigh significantly different than steel woks. They are just as thin as the steel ones and the whole thing weighs less than the handle on an American cast iron pan.

Here is a pic of mine which I suffer through using on an electric stove. I bought mine at the shop linked above though I was fortunate enough to be in driving distance to their real shop in San Francisco. Nice place with good customer service and they are perfectly fluent in english which helps for us gringos.

Posted Image

#34 andiesenji

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Posted 13 April 2006 - 09:29 PM

I have had this turkey fryer for several years. I have used it for frying turkeys, chickens, steaming 100 tamales at a time, boiling shrimp, cooking huge batches of pasta for parties and for chili, soup and etc.

The burner cranks up enough heat to bring 26 quarts of water to a rolling boil in less than 10 minutes. 20 quarts of oil get to temp in 15 minutes. It has only been used outside.

Edited by andiesenji, 13 April 2006 - 09:31 PM.

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#35 hzrt8w

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Posted 13 April 2006 - 09:49 PM

[...]I wondered about the burners you showed in your posts. To me, they also looked like the replacement burners for my "wok tables"  :unsure:

View Post

Replacement burners I know not... They do have full frames (jackets?) to go with them. You can use them as stand-alone stoves. Fully functional. Just hook it up to a portable gas tank.

Edited by hzrt8w, 13 April 2006 - 09:50 PM.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

#36 HarryOhm

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Posted 17 April 2006 - 06:39 AM

Hello all,

I have been following this thread with interest... I have the same burner that is in the very first picture in this thread, and it seems to get plenty hot.

However, I thing it is rated at no more than 50,000 BTUs and the problem with mine is that the outer ring produces most of the heat and so the bottom of the wok which should get the most heat gets much less, and the sides get hotter than the bottom.

What do you folks think of the burners on this site?

BAYOU CLASSIC

There's one burner that is rated at 210,000 btu's....!!! for only $60.00

#37 Dejah

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Posted 17 April 2006 - 07:34 AM

Harry,

How is your burner housed? Is it part of your stove and uses household supply of natural gas? Or, is it a separate unit using a BBQ type propane tank outside?

If I were choosing the Bayou cooker in the URL you posted, I'd want the double one! Just watch my eyebrows go "POOF!" :laugh: :laugh:
Dejah
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#38 mrbigjas

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Posted 17 April 2006 - 08:49 AM

Hello all,

I have been following this thread with interest... I have the same burner that is in the very first picture in this thread, and it seems to get plenty hot.

However, I thing it is rated at no more than 50,000 BTUs and the problem with mine is that the outer ring produces most of the heat and so the bottom of the wok which should get the most heat gets much less, and the sides get hotter than the bottom.

What do you folks think of the burners on this site?

BAYOU CLASSIC

There's one burner that is rated at 210,000 btu's....!!! for only $60.00

View Post



you know what i always wonder about those things? at 210,000 BTU/hr, how fast does it rip through a tank of propane? i mean, i know stir frying is only done for a few minutes at a time, but holy moly....

#39 _john

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Posted 17 April 2006 - 09:40 AM

this is drool worthy:

Cajun Cookware Large Natural Gas Multi-Jet Burner

200,000BTU

#40 HarryOhm

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Posted 17 April 2006 - 10:12 AM

Harry,

How is your burner housed? Is it part of your stove and uses household supply of natural gas? Or, is it a separate unit using a BBQ type propane tank outside?

If I were choosing the Bayou cooker in the URL you posted, I'd want the double one! Just watch my eyebrows go "POOF!"  :laugh:  :laugh:

View Post


dejah,

I just place the two-ring burner on my Bayou Classics SQ14... It is very stable and sturdy and the wok sits on the little projections that are on the inner ring of the two-ring burner.

It works great. The only problem, as I stated before, is that the sides of the wok get really hot, more so than the bottom.

I have been looking at wok burners at the Chinese restaurant equipment suppliers in Atlanta... now those things with the multi-angled jets, seem to be the "holy grail" of wok burners... very drool worthy.

Oddly I can't find any of them (Chinese rest. equip. suppliers) on the web.

#41 trillium

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Posted 17 April 2006 - 10:26 AM

I don't want to get into too much physics, but BTUs are not always the best way of measuring how much heat your burner is going to give off.

Besides, what you really want to pay attention to with the turkey fryer type burners is how high they stand (it hurts to bend over and stir-fry after a while) and whether or not there is a regulator as part of the system so you can turn it down. We have a wimpy (hah) Camp Chef burner that has been rated at 70,000 BTU. For stir-frying, we turn it down to the lowest setting and you still have to be quick quick or your stuff burns. The down side to it is that it doesn't really have a way of keeping the wok steady. We saw really cool things stands in Asia that do a much better job. I even tried to figure out a way to buy one and get it home, without much luck.

The propane tanks last a long time. We use our burner for cooking and making beer and probably go through 1 and a half tanks/ summer.

regards,
trillium

#42 Dejah

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Posted 17 April 2006 - 10:31 AM

this is drool worthy:

Cajun Cookware Large Natural Gas Multi-Jet Burner
200,000BTU

View Post


Just stay drooling, _john. I can't imagine you using one of these in the typical Japanese kitchen! :shock: :laugh:

I had a 3-wok unit in my restaurant. Two for all stir-fries, the other one specifically for fried rice and noodles, and a separate one-wok unit just for deep frying. This unit sits between 2 deep fryers for "finishing": one for seafood items and the other unit for chicken, etc.

I miss my wok tables. :sad: I should have kept the single unit and set up an outdoor kitchen!
Dejah
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#43 Chris Amirault

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Posted 17 April 2006 - 10:35 AM

I don't want to get into too much physics, but BTUs are not always the best way of measuring how much heat your burner is going to give off.

Besides, what you really want to pay attention to with the turkey fryer type burners is how high they stand (it hurts to bend over and stir-fry after a while) and whether or not there is a regulator as part of the system so you can turn it down.  We have a wimpy (hah) Camp Chef burner that has been rated at 70,000 BTU.  For stir-frying, we turn it down to the lowest setting and you still have to be quick quick or your stuff burns. 

View Post


trillium makes a lot of sense to me. I have a 49K BTU Patio Wok set-up (and the wok rests wonderfully in it, I will add), and I cannot imagine turning it all the way up. It is vastly more heat than I ever use save for deep frying or boiling water.

As for BTUs, I did a search and found this great post by project, which helped me understand a bit more about the British thermal unit.
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#44 jo-mel

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Posted 17 April 2006 - 12:36 PM

I have a question.

How come the Chinese kitchen pictured in the "Cooking a western meal for Chinese grandmother" thread, and the pictures in hzrt's wonderful series (and great tasting Chinese food) all cook fine Chinese food &/or authentic stuff -- yet don't have ultra high heat?

I guess the answer is ---- trying to achieve restaurant heat equality, but I just thought I'd toss it out to see what comes back. (?heehee?)

#45 trillium

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Posted 17 April 2006 - 12:56 PM

I don't want to get into too much physics, but BTUs are not always the best way of measuring how much heat your burner is going to give off.

Besides, what you really want to pay attention to with the turkey fryer type burners is how high they stand (it hurts to bend over and stir-fry after a while) and whether or not there is a regulator as part of the system so you can turn it down.  We have a wimpy (hah) Camp Chef burner that has been rated at 70,000 BTU.  For stir-frying, we turn it down to the lowest setting and you still have to be quick quick or your stuff burns. 

View Post


trillium makes a lot of sense to me. I have a 49K BTU Patio Wok set-up (and the wok rests wonderfully in it, I will add), and I cannot imagine turning it all the way up. It is vastly more heat than I ever use save for deep frying or boiling water.

As for BTUs, I did a search and found this great post by project, which helped me understand a bit more about the British thermal unit.

View Post


Yeah, that does help if you have the patience to sort through it. The funny thing with these outdoor burners is that the BTU measurement is usually for the INPUT, not the OUTPUT. The output depends on the effeciency of the burners (and how well the fuel/air ratio is adjusted, etc) and is not something that is usually advertised by the makers.


regards,
trillium

#46 Ben Hong

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Posted 17 April 2006 - 09:31 PM

Indoor gas kitchen ranges are more and more coming with at least one burner which is rated at 15K Btu. I have the KitchenAid model which does a great job for "normal" Chinese portions, for empty nesters like my wife and I. My outdoor burner ($49.Cdn) is rated at almost 100K Btu, I think, and it is way too hot at full blow so I almost never turn it past half way.

I wish to say again, these super high Btu monsters are not intended for non-commercial indoor use. Make sure your insurance is OK with it and paid up. Also install a commercial exhaust in your kitchen if you really must have one inside.

#47 Dejah

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Posted 17 April 2006 - 09:52 PM

I had to laugh when I saw Chris's mention of a post by "project". :blink:

Those of us on this forum may remember his "dumpling post"! The BTU was similar. MY brain is once again twisted up like a Chinese fortune cookie AND pretzel together! :wink: :wacko: :laugh: :laugh:
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#48 hzrt8w

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Posted 18 April 2006 - 02:23 AM

It was raining in Northern Cal last Saturday. And what a day to visit San Francisco to continue my search for the perfect wok!

Thanks to Andie and Chris, who pointed me to visit "The Wok Shop".

Posted Image

Located on 718 Grant Ave, San Francisco, The Wok Shop is right in the tourist-frequented portion of China Town. They are right next to the famous Eastern Bakery. How could I have missed that last time I dropped by Eastern Bakery???

I stepped in to this small shop, I immediately was impressed with their selections. Woks are placed right at the entrance. I guess that's what a lot of tourists come here to shop for: a good wok. Though this is not Sur La Table or Williams Sonama, the kitchen gadgets that they carry is comparable in variety. Many are practical types, emphasized on function over form.

Posted Image

The picture shown are cast-iron woks hung from the ceiling, along with some stainless steel ones.

Posted Image

They even show what a seasoned wok would look like.

Posted Image

And I found stacks of 14-inch carbon steel woks with 2 ears. I guess they sell a lot of these.

Posted Image

And there are woks of many shapes and sizes. One can easily get confused after a while.

Posted Image

A stack of 14-inch, carbon steel wok with flat bottom.

.....

That's when my excitement and admiration came to a halt.

Storekeeper#1 saw me taking pictures of their woks, and did not seem to be pleased. She abruptly pointed out pictures of the woks are all posted on their website. (This is, by the way, not a way to greet a customer... okay, prospective customer... that I am used to.). Okay. I played along and stopped taking pictures.

I started to ask a few things about these different woks, hoping to get some advice which would help me decide. Storekeeper#1 was very distant. She gave a few hollow answers. Very disengaged. She kept looking at the front door, as if a VIP customer is going to drop in any moment now. I have never seen this. I was a little embarrassed actually.

Storekeeper#1 kept looking out the door, and kept greeting the tourists who walked in the door and saying thank-you to those were going out. And this 40-some year old Chinese who speaks her own language was completely ignored. Oh... I immediately knew what that implied. I didn't fit the profile of their typical customer!

So much for citing a celebrity status on eGullet and getting some keen advice. I should have asked eje to come with me to this store. Then perhaps I would get storekeeper#1 to talk to me.

Well, I continued to browse on my own. They displayed 2 models of burners right at the entrance. Both were powerful burners, and their sizes were big. At one point I just wanted to measure the 14-inch wok against one of the burners. Storekeeper#1 said coldly: "What are you doing? This is too small a wok for this burner. You would burn the handles!"

..... Geez, where did this guy come from? Does he know anything about cooking?


Geez... I just wanted to measure this wok against the burner (because I saw one that I wanted to get in Sacramento which is similar to this). I just wanted to see how that might fit. No need to treat me as if I am an idiot. Idiot or not, I am still a (at least potential) customer.

I gotta tell you. With this kind of sales persons in the store, I just don't know how this small shop could be so successful. Sadly that this person seemed to be the manager of the store. If I don't get some product advice, the last thing that I want to get is being ridiculed - even if I don't know beans about Chinese cooking.


However, storekeeper#2 saw me showing keen interests towards these woks. She came by and started talking to me, asking me what I was looking for, etc.. Just what a NORMAL sales person would do. She took the time and explained the differences between the different kinds of woks, and even relayed her own experiences. I started to feel better.

From that conversation, I pretty much came to the following conclusions:

- I don't want a cast-iron wok. It is too heavy for tossing. There is no way one can pick up the wok with one hand - especially with food on top.

- Carbon steel wok should be my best bet. With good care, and if I season it properly, it will not rust.

- I want a round bottom wok, not a flat bottom one, so that I can concentrate the hottest surface at the very bottom. Flat bottom is good for electric stove, but a round bottom should be more desirable if one has a gas stove.

- I want the design that has one long handle so I can toss food around. The design that has 2 ears would not do it for me (can't toss it).


Through the process of elimination, I only faced one choice:

14-inch or 16-inch?

I wanted the 14-inch, because it is lighter, easier to toss.

But I also wanted the 16-inch, where the surface is bigger. I can cook for more guests on occasion. More importantly, I can sear a big fish sometimes. This would be easier with a bigger wok.

14-inch or 16-inch?

My heart was torn. And I had to think on my feet. Or else this 90-mile drive would be a waste. Which one?


(To be continued)
W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

#49 C. sapidus

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Posted 18 April 2006 - 04:20 AM

Get both! Get both! :biggrin:

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#50 Chris Amirault

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Posted 18 April 2006 - 04:24 AM

14-inch or 16-inch?

My heart was torn.  And I had to think on my feet.  Or else this 90-mile drive would be a waste.  Which one?


(To be continued)

View Post

Great story so far! I'm in suspense!

Meanwhile, I do hope that you'll write a note to the folks at the Wok Shop about your bad encounter. From my reading about the people who run the place, I think they'd want to know about your experience.
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#51 fou de Bassan

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Posted 18 April 2006 - 04:34 AM

I agree, get both!
Do you have the storage space? They can't take up that much room.
If only Jack Nicholson could have narrated my dinner, it would have been perfect.

#52 Shalmanese

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Posted 18 April 2006 - 05:42 AM

If yoy lay one wok on top of another, both woks shouldnt take up significantly more storage space than a single 16".
PS: I am a guy.

#53 mrbigjas

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Posted 18 April 2006 - 07:21 AM

I had to laugh when I saw Chris's mention of a post by "project". :blink:

Those of us on this forum may remember his "dumpling post"! The BTU was similar. MY brain is once again twisted up like a Chinese fortune cookie AND pretzel together! :wink:  :wacko:  :laugh:  :laugh:

View Post



i loved project's posts. they made me laugh, and were totally awesome. where did he go, anyway?

also, i agree with everyone here--both woks wouldn't take up that much more space than just the one...

Edited by mrbigjas, 18 April 2006 - 07:26 AM.


#54 jo-mel

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Posted 18 April 2006 - 07:48 AM

Send a copy of this thread to Storekeeper #1 so that he will know the negative impact his attitude is giving. And tell him to give a raise to storekeeper #2 as she is the reason you (a potential customer) stayed.

I like the idea of showing what a seasoned wok looks like.

Did they have woks with a wooden handle and a METAL ear on the other side? Do the ones with the wooden handles wiggle? I like the immovability of the solid metal.

I stack my woks, too. The 12'' (flat and round) upside down on each other, and the same with the 14"er flat and round bottoms. They are right over the stove for easy access. (I am tall) And an 18" hangs on a wall.

For about a year I had my cast iron wok upside down on top of one of the stacks. When I've used it, I've replaced it back on the pile. But last week, I didn't balance it correctly, I guess, as it came tumbling down, knocking over a large teflon wok in which I was boiling a pile of potatoes for salad. The boiling water went flying and the heaviness of the iron wok DENTED the heavy teflon one. Thank goodness I wasn't in the kitchen -- but what a BANG (and mess)! So-- stack, but stack carefully if you get both woks!

BTW -- your pictorial visit to the WOK STORE was great --- as far as it went. Too bad the storekeeper didn't realize that you were giving him some publicity.

#55 Toliver

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Posted 18 April 2006 - 09:24 AM

Did they have woks with a wooden handle and a METAL ear on the other side?  Do the ones with the wooden handles wiggle?  I like the immovability of the solid metal.

View Post

Excellent point. My wok has a wooden handle that definitely wiggles when I use it. I pray to the kitchen gods that it won't break off while in the middle of a stir-fry!
My wok is also without a helper handle (or ear, as you're calling it). It certainly would have come in handy (no pun intended).

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Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”
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#56 eje

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Posted 18 April 2006 - 02:25 PM

Storekeeper#1 kept looking out the door, and kept greeting the tourists who walked in the door and saying thank-you to those were going out.  And this 40-some year old Chinese who speaks her own language was completely ignored.  Oh... I immediately knew what that implied.  I didn't fit the profile of their typical customer!

So much for citing a celebrity status on eGullet and getting some keen advice.  I should have asked eje to come with me to this store.  Then perhaps I would get storekeeper#1 to talk to me.

View Post

I don't know that bringing along a 40 something caucasian would have helped...

:raz:

...though, I certainly would have enjoyed meeting you!

It's too bad your experience was bad. I've never heard anything but good things about the wok shop. Not letting you take pictures in the store is just strange.

-Erik
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#57 Dejah

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Posted 18 April 2006 - 02:39 PM

I have two 14" inch carbon steel woks. They both have one ear and a wooden handle. Not sure what kind of wooden handle the rest of you have, but mine screw onto a steel bracket that is welded onto the wok. There is a "loop" that I use to hang onto a hook over my stove. The handles never wiggle.

Both of my woks hang over my stove with the rest of the pots I use the most often. My larger woks are stored in the garage. I find the 14" is sufficient for all my cooking, even for a crowd.

I must confess I DO use soap for washing my woks. I soap with a soft plastic scrubbie, rinse, wipe dry, then wipe down with oil on a paper towel. Maybe they are not as "seasoned" as what you all try to achieve, but there's been no complaints about my food. My family and friends know enough to "never look a gift horse in the mouth!" :raz: :laugh: :laugh:
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#58 sheetz

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Posted 18 April 2006 - 08:40 PM

So much for citing a celebrity status on eGullet and getting some keen advice.  I should have asked eje to come with me to this store.  Then perhaps I would get storekeeper#1 to talk to me.


A bossy Chinese mother-in-law can come in very handy in these types of situations! :biggrin:

Edited by sheetz, 18 April 2006 - 08:41 PM.


#59 hzrt8w

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Posted 18 April 2006 - 10:51 PM

Meanwhile, I do hope that you'll write a note to the folks at the Wok Shop about your bad encounter. From my reading about the people who run the place, I think they'd want to know about your experience.

View Post

I don't know if this would make any difference. Like I said, storekeeper#1 looked like a manager, or perhaps even the owner of the place from the way she talked to other workers in the store.

I was really in shock that an owner/manager class would treat prospects the way she did.
W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

#60 hzrt8w

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Posted 18 April 2006 - 11:43 PM

From the last episode:
hzrt8w was standing inside "The Wok Shop" in San Francisco in a rainy Saturday afternoon. Through the process of elimination, he had only one choice to make to purchase his first wok:

14-inch or 16-inch?

The 14-inch is lighter, while the 16-inch can accommodate more ingredients.

14-inch or 16-inch?

His heart was torn. And he had to think on his feet. Or else this 90-mile drive would be a waste. Which one?

====================================================

I stood there for a minute, contemplating. It did occur to me that I could buy both. However, they are sufficiently similar. Buying both may be a bit of a waste. How do I decide?

Well... think about it this way: I can always cook fewer ingredients on a larger wok, but not the other way around. I would rather have a large enough wok to fry a fonder than not having enough room. 16-inch wok: US$24.95. 14-inch wok: US$16.95. The price difference is... Wait a minute, how far did you drive to get out here? 90 miles? How much is a gallon of gas? $3.00? And how much did you pay for the parking meter to come to this shop? ...

No more thought on the price difference. And I am sure this won't be the only wok I would buy in my life.

I proceeded to ask storekeeper#2 to bag the 16-inch carbon steel wok for me. While I was at it, I also picked up a few wok accessories. I even picked up a bone-chopping cleaver! :raz:

Here are what I bought:

Posted Image

The 16-inch carbon steel wok sitting on my stove over a wok-ring.

Posted Image

I bought a wok-lid, in case I need to cook with the lid on. However, I don't plan to use my wok for steaming. I have a steamer for that. I am afraid using a wok for steaming repeatedly may degrade the seasoning (the oil sheen) on the wok.

Posted Image

I also picked up a bamboo wok brush to wash the wok with. This is very handy.

Posted Image

I also bought a 10-inch colander. It would be used for scooping up meat from a frying wok. This size would work well with my wok.

Having bought a few items from The Wok Shop, they gave me a complimentary set of long chopsticks (for picking up items during frying) and a wooden spoon for scooping rice. How nice! :smile:


Now having selected my wok, the next step is to season it. This will be my weekend project. I need to re-read some of the old posts from Ben Sook on wok seasoning, and re-read the section on wok seasoning from "The Breath of a Wok".

Storekeeper#2 handed me a pamphlet that provides instructions on how to season a wok. She suggested me to use the oven to bake the wok to season instead of burning it over fire (with oil smeared on the wok using either method, of course). Baking at 400F in the oven will season the wok more evenly than burning. Seems to make sense.

Hmmmm? Another decision to make: How to season my wok?

Bake? Or burn?


Okay, American Idol fans: what's your vote?

For: I should bake, dial: 1 866 436 5701
For: I should burn, dial: 1 866 436 5702


(To be continued)

Edited by hzrt8w, 19 April 2006 - 10:00 AM.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"





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