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Wok burner advice needed


infernooo
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I've read, probably in The Breath of a Wok, that restaurant woks are made of wrought iron or carbon steel, hammered quite thin to produce "wok hay." They're said to last only a few weeks in restaurant use because they're so thin.

Nevertheless, I've never seen a wok heated to a red glow, which is close to 1,000 degrees F. I think it would burn any food instantly, and even grapeseed oil smokes at 485.

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Infernooo, that's an impressive burner. I'm currently using a turkey fryer burner to perform my wok cookery. It's rated at 160000 BTUs, but I question that. It does ok, but it doesn't have the intensity as the ones in restaurants. Yours seems to have more flame, but it's rated at less BTUs. Does yours get as hot as the restaurants? If you can get your guy to get more, I think many of the readers here would be interested.

Has anyone tried Eastman's Outdoors Big Kahuna Wok Burner?

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0000CAQ0...286168&v=glance

http://www.exploreproducts.com/eastmanoutdoorbigkahuna.htm

It looks like a solid design and has good reviews, but only puts out 60000 BTUs. I don't know about this BTU numbers game. I'm not sure if it accurately tells the full story of how effective it is for a wok. Comments anyone?

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Ditto me. I'm officially confused. My Patio Wok is rated at about 50K BTUs, and I never, ever, ever turn it all the way up. It would instantly burn anything I put in my wonderful carbon steel, well-seasoned wok. How in the world can anyone use something that produces 100-160K BTUs?

I'll add that I've had the pleasure to witness high heat wok cooking in Chinese restaurant kitchens, and my Patio Wok is comparable to what I've seen there. I can't imagine that those burners are three or four times hotter than what I use.

Any thermodynamics engineers out there?

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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This seems like a good place to pose a few wok burner questions (I'm a complete novice when it comes to wok cooking):

Does anyone know much about the wok burners on conventional cookers? I have a Smeg with two wok burners, and they had a reasonably intense flame to start. After a short while they would not ignite, and a service man yesterday told me that this was due to the jets becoming blocked from spillages or cleaning agent. So he cleaned out all the jets, and when he lit the burners again, I am sure that the flame was not as intense as it had been before. He said that they are not meant to be, the main benefit is that it is a double ring, and therefore heats the sides as well as the bottom of a wok. Now I know that my wok ring is not going to come anywhere near what is being discussed here, but does this sound like a satisfactory answer? The call out was the equivalent of $100!

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Wow, infernoo, your wok burner looks great!!

I've got a wok grate accessory on our Viking range but frankly it's disappointing and not man enough for the job (even though the range itself is wonderful - with a chargrill that is almost restaurant quality - powerful, cooks steaks great, with perfect seared marks from the bars).

I've been looking at this Hot Wok which seems to have three heat controls and is rated at 7000 watts. But I ask, is this a mere toy? Or worth getting?

I already have a propane-fueled paella ring such as the Spaniards use to prepare paella outdoors. Problem here in Devon, England is prevailing so'westerly winds in our riverside garden - the wind really effects the strength of the fire and it can sometimes be terribly erratic, one minute a raging inferno, next utterly pitiful.

I wonder if the same thing might happen with the Hot Wok or other similar appliances. Whereas yours, infernoo, looks like it could function most effectively in the full face of a gale.

Marc

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I've got a wok grate accessory on our Viking range but frankly it's disappointing and not man enough for the job.

I've been looking at this Hot Wok which seems to have three heat controls and is rated at 7000 watts. But I ask, is this a mere toy? Or worth getting?

I already have a propane-fueled paella ring such as the Spaniards use to prepare paella outdoors. Problem here in Devon, England is prevailing so'westerly winds in our riverside garden - the wind really effects the strength of the fire and it can sometimes be terribly erratic, one minute a raging inferno, next utterly pitiful.

I wonder if the same thing might happen with the Hot Wok or other similar appliances. Whereas yours, infernoo, looks like it could function most effectively in the full face of a gale.

Marc

Marco_Polo,

Here's my 2 cents. I'm on a mission to find a commercial quality wok burner for residential applications that doesn't require a crane to lift. Infernooo's looks like the one, but acquiring one is another story. Most of the better ones are made in Taiwan, as Infernooo alluded to. Looking at the Hot Wok, it has potential. It looks well constructed; however, doing a little math: 7kwatts = 23,898 BTUs, which is equivalent to the side burners of BBQ grills or the burners on home stovetops. Translation: it's too weak for wok applications. You'll never achieve "wok hay" - the holy grail of wok cookery.

In my experience, buying a cheap turkey fryer burner in WalMart here in the states for $50 or less gives the most bang for the buck. It achieves 60k-120k BTUs. I've been using it on my back porch with some success, but I still need more power. I think the restaurant ones go up to 200k BTUs.

Looking at the highend rangetops with wok accessories are disappointing, as you discovered with Viking. They're no more powerful than my $50 turkey fryer - and many are not. I'm so aggravated with these highend companies that I think I'm going to write to them about not addressing the prosumer needs of Asian cuisine! Alas, the search for the holy grail of wok burners continues...

As far as the so'westerly winds, it's best that you create a barrier to insulate you from the drafts. Even the most expensive unit cannot protect you from the elements. You'll have to design a summer kitchen (that's what we call it here in sunny Florida) with wind protection.

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Looking at the Hot Wok, it has potential. It looks well constructed; however, doing a little math: 7kwatts = 23,898 BTUs, which is equivalent to the side burners of BBQ grills or the burners on home stovetops. Translation: it's too weak for wok applications. You'll never achieve "wok hay" - the holy grail of wok cookery.

Thanks for doing the maths, champipple, you've just saved me 60 quid! And I most definitely take your point about the windbreak required for serious outdoor cooking. I'll look into this for next season.

Marc

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Just to put my nerd hat on for a moment: :smile:

BTU is an energy unit.

Watt is a power unit.

Power is "Energy per unit time", meaning how fast the energy (heat) is delivered.

The power rating should be cited in "BTU/hr" or Watts. The conversion factor is:

BTU/hour = Watts x 3.413

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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  • 1 year later...
Just to put my nerd hat on for a moment:  :smile:

BTU is an energy unit.

Watt is a power unit.

Power is "Energy per unit time", meaning how fast the energy (heat) is delivered.

The power rating should be cited in "BTU/hr" or Watts.  The conversion factor is:

BTU/hour = Watts x 3.413

This thread got me thinking. It would be really nice to have the burner specified in the first post at home. But since I don't have gas in my apartment and the thread brought up various safety concerns I don't think that it is going to work. But what about getting an electric version? I did a little searching and about the most powerful electric burner that I could find was in the 30,000 BTU/hr range. Which is kinda weak compared to 120,000 BTU/hr. I was pretty disappointed. But then I plugged the numbers into the equation above (120,000 BTU/hr) / 3.413 == 35,159 Watts. To put that number in perspective according to this article http://ezinearticles.com/?Major-Remodel---...!&id=236619

the average US home has 200 amp electrical service. To convert from amps to watts we use the formula watts == amps x volts. 200 amps x 120 volts == 24,000 watts. Which is less than 35,159 watts. So that means that if we had an electric version of one of these things it would draw more current than the average US house could provide. Interesting. To provide the needed power we would need (35,159 watts / 120 volts) 292 amp service to your house. That also assumes that nothing else in your entire house is on. The situation improves if you have 240 volt service. Then you would only need (35,159 watts / 240 volts) 146 amps of service to your house. That should give you a bit of head room. Though you probably can't run the A/C at the same time as your super hot electric burner.

I guess this is why we never see electric burners this powerful for cooking. Though I hear that some glass melting furnaces are electric ... :biggrin:

Please check my numbers though. It has been a long time since my circuit theory class.

Edited by jongchen (log)
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  • 3 weeks later...
Wow... that's pretty amazing, I must say. I have a Patio Wok, which is an outdoor propane-driven wok burner that cranks out 49K BTUs. I never -- I mean, never -- set it at its highest. I can't imagine what you'd need 100-120K BTUs for: reforging the wok itself? Yeesh!

The link you posted has evidently expired. Can you post another one, or the brand/model of your burner so I can run a search? Thanks.

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Did you happen to go to the home page for that expired link? Contact details for FlameEngineering.com are clearly posted...

So we finish the eighteenth and he's gonna stiff me. And I say, "Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know." And he says, "Oh, uh, there won't be any money. But when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness."

So I got that goin' for me, which is nice.

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I had one like that a few years ago.  You simply cannot use it indoors, a Wok on it will soon fill your house with smoke.  Outdoors, though, and it's wonderful.  Now that I had one, I can't imagine cooking Chinese without it.

Did you get yours in the states? Are they still available here?

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I'm joining the list of people that wants one of these. Maybe I can ship one back in September?

Alternatively, if there's an F18 crash nearby, I bet one of the thrusters would do the job admirably!

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  • 3 months later...
Did you happen to go to the home page for that expired link?  Contact details for FlameEngineering.com are clearly posted...

I think that the item is discontinued. There are no Patio Woks to be found on the site -- unless I'm missing something.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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"The situation improves if you have 240 volt service. "

US residential supply voltage is 240V. It is stepped down at the Breaker Panel for 120V usage for lighting circuits but many things are used at 240V such as wells and Central AC units and Electrical Dryers.-Dick

Edited by budrichard (log)
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  • 7 months later...

Hi inferno

Is your wok burner similar to this?

http://www.indiajoze.com/equipment.html

I've been trying to find something like yours for such a long time, but to no avail. Either the valves aren't powerful enough or there aren't enough holes to disperse the propane flame. So when you turn up the heat, the flame has a tendency to go out in some of the holes.

Outdoorstiryfry.com sells something similar but the rim is too big (13 inches wide) and it is incredibly expensive. Apparently it goes up to 160k BTU's, but I don't know how accurate his claims are

The guy at indiajoze.com apparently sells one for 90 dollars but I'm not sure if the site is even active anymore. Plus it seems way too cheap to be true.

The wokshop sells one that looks really similar but it claims it only goes up to 32k BTU. I'm not sure if I believe any BTU rating anymore

http://www.wokshop.com/HTML/products/steam...tove_32000.html

There are also a bunch being sold on ebay starting at dirt cheap prices of 20 bucks not including shipping. The picture looks decent but seriously...20 bucks. The other alternative on there is being sold for about 300 bucks (being shipped from Australia).

Edited by takadi (log)
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Keeping in mind Jongchen's very important and useful post upthread re: household electric supply,

people might want to consider one of two options:

1) free-standing induction stoves dedicated to woks

2) flat induction surfaces with woks designed to operate on them, specifically Demeyere [spelling?] curved woks with 3 little 'legs' and temperature regulating metal construction [ max. 475F]

1)http://www.cooktek.com/products_apoSpecsWok.html

2)http://www.demeyere.be/default.asp?CID=2349&SLID=1

http://www.demeyere.be/default.asp?CID=6914&SLID=1

http://www.demeyere.be/default.asp?CID=4389&SLID=1

There will be no "flames in the pan" no wok hei in either 1 or 2. Save this, there is a range of wattage available, 1.8-3.5 kW to match various household current capacities, and there is a 5kW Cooktek said to be released soon.

Because so much more of the available energy is available for heating [at least 80+% as opposed to 30-40% of a gas flame], the induction appliance may be the "hotter" of the two, all other things being equal.

Safer for the cook and the house as well. Instant temperature control. Worth a look.

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Spike,

I shall offer you a convoluted reply, the same one I was given when I went to an expert seeking advice. First, what you are looking at is a Tarhong type "fast stove". Fast stove is a literal translation of "quick cooking" or stir frying. Tarhong is the company whose products are most readily available in the US from restaurant supply stores. They cost between $ 40-60, for the aluminum and brass, respectively.

You can then choose to add bells and whistles, including a 0-30 psi pressure regulator and a metallized safety hose connecting the liquid propane tank to the stove. You should also think about anchoring the fairly light stove securely, since the wok and cooking movements will move it around.

Then there is the matter of a very powerful vent, a steel, fireproof backwall and other elements approved by the fire safety inspector plus your insurance agent. Absent these, you will be voiding all policies on your house and will be in legal violation of fire safety codes if in an apartment. That is especially grave if there are minors, elderly or disabled individuals living with you, or in adjacent apartments, where they could be endangered should a fire break out. Sorry if I sound officious, but you saw the flames in the pan. I have a lot of experience, having cooked professionally. This is not a matter to be taken casually. Things look simple and exciting but can get out of control very quickly during entertaining and such. Oil burns are extremely dangerous and painful.

I asked a woman who owns 2 Chinese restaurants plus the most successful Asian grocery in town what her advice was about home wokking. Her answer was that she had spent $10,000 to set up a SINGLE natural gas ensemble at her home, the money going towards the special (bigger pipe) gas connection, but also for all the necessary features required for fire safety and venting.

Then she took me to the back of the store where they have set up an informal kitchen as they work incredibly long hours. There they have a 2 burner wok ensemble, a beautiful compact, stable, stand-alone natural gas stainless steel stove (available in Chinatowns: I could get you the descriptive Chinese characters!!) "Your Tarhong fast stove costs $50, and my stove there costs $500, she said. You have my answer."

Under most circumstances prevailing in the US, it would be difficult to persuade me to use a fast stove indoors. Heavy duty Cooktek induction stove yes [with Asian or Taiwanese vent], gas fired fast stove, most emphatically not.

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Hi V gautam

How does the stand alone induction wok work? Does the wok have it's own power supply or something? Do you have to buy a curved induction stove?

Seems really good for casual wok cooking and extremely efficient compared to flame stoves, but it seems like the price might be out of the ballpark range of casual cooks.

I subscribed to chefbalcer a while back, he seems like he knows what he's doing. His techniques and set up are very professional, so I don't think his situation is applicable to home cooks unless they are extremely passionate about wok cooking

Edited by takadi (log)
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Hi Takadi,

If you go to the Cooktek website given upthread, you will see a photograph of the 2 major variants of the induction wok stove with the curved bowl, one with analog controls, the other digital.

The energy input comes from the curved stove base and the wok has to be ferro-metallic or induction-competent. In other words, your ordinary range of carbon steel, spun-steel, cast-iron or the fancy Demeyere special temperature-controlled induction metal.

The price today is in the range of $1500 for the professional model, which is high for the casual hobbyist as you suggest. But compared to the danger of bringing indoors a fast stove with NO back shield, NO side shield, NO evidence of requisite venting and NO evidence of the types of space separations that are mandatory in the US for fire safety codes, besides the hilarious fact of NOT being allowed to fire up a propane device indoors for any reason EVER, an unsecured fast stove sitting on an ordinary stove top, if you discount all of these things any one of which will put you in trouble with the law for a long long while, then $1500 seems very sensible. Not to mention the safety factor for you and your guests to whom you will inevitably be demonstrating wok cooking. By "you" I mean the rhtorical "you" not you=takadi.

Whatever Chef Balcer is doing, may he long prosper, but you need to be clear about what technical elements of his activities are not permissible under US conditions, and for good reason. You do possess a turkey fryer rated for outdoor use in the US that you use for wok cooking. Washington has a fairly long season when outdoor activities are possible: its winters are short and mild compared to the Northern Tier. So there are just 3-3.5 months of the year when you are really prevented from outdoor wokking. Not too shabby.

The extraordinary risks of indoor fires and personal injury, to my mind, far outweigh these few weeks of relative deprivation. I believe our esteemed friend Ah Leung manages to eat well without setting anything or anyone on fire, even though he has only an ordinary stovetop. Ditto Prawncracker and Ben Hong and so many more. If people still cannot resist their creative urge, then $1500 is very cheap in terms of reducing BUT NOT ELIMINATING risk, especially that from short-circuiting. Please read Jongchen's post upthread very, very carefully before deciding on whether your living space will support an induction device and of what wattage.

Sorry to be such a stick in the mud but even a small accident becomes very expensive in so many ways: financial, legal, your personal insurance history of the future degraded etc. Please keep all these real world realities in mind. The US insurance industry has a long and penetrating memory.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi Takadi,

Apologies for the delayed reply - things have been quite hectic!

Firstly, I have since switched to a new even more powerful setup (200Mj/Hr = 189000 BTU) which consists of a Mongolian burner (I also have a Duckbill burner outputting similar levels) which I have mounted on a special stand and only operate outdoors (it is just way too powerful to do indoors without a VERY high rangehood or vent above it... otherwise you will vaporise anything up to a few feet above the flames).

They look like this when you buy them without stands:

gallery_22943_2022_11399.jpg

gallery_22943_2022_8484.jpg

Now onto your questions!

It looks similar to the burner I purchased, but of lesser quality... the one I purchased is of very good build quality and the metal it is made of appears to be a dark grey as opposed to the light gray in the one you linked.

The highest power ones I have seen for sale online in the USA (keep in mind, I am in Australia and bought mine here) are the big kahuna burners or the turkey fryers on amazon (e.g. http://www.amazon.com/Bayou-Classic-SP10-H...1610068&sr=8-5).

At the end of the day I created my own wok stove that is essentially identical to what the Chinese restaurants use (the duckbill/mongolian jet burners)... whether you are willing to go to such extremes is completely up to you :-) when I get obsessed with something (in this case, wok hei), I won't stop till I get it :-).

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  • 2 months later...

Hi folks,

I thought I would post a video I recorded of my old wok burner today - I donated it to a friend of mine as I am now using the more powerful duckbill setup I put together.

Here is the video, it is pretty short but gives you some idea of what my old setup was capable of... the wok sits perfectly on it as well so the only real advantage of my new setup os the ability to run even hotter (not that it is needed: the old setup on full bore has the same output as the largest Chinese restaurant wok burners available from my research):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=viEuOyrm-Ps

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  • 2 months later...

Wok burners of various persuasions and of the fiercers strengths have been discussed in other forums on eG. Here i want to focus on a specific model I have noticed in this video of the Chiang Mai Culinary Institute:

I am familiar with the Taiwan-manufacured "fast stoves" available in the US, e.g. Tarhong brand and those from the Wok Shop.

I find the model depicted in the video far superior on many counts. My hope is that the many expatriate culinary experts resident in Thailand could give me some leads on the make, model, availability etc. of this particular TABLETOP (type) wok stove.

With many thanks,

Gautam.

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