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Wok burner advice needed


infernooo
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Well, I finally ordered the Big Kahuna kit with the huge carbon steel wok. I occasionally cook for crowds so the big wok will see some use, but for day-to-day stuff I've got a 16" cast iron wok that should work pretty well. Can't wait to break it in.

John Rosevear

"Brown food tastes better." - Chris Schlesinger

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  • 2 weeks later...

I had a Thermador with 15K BTUs per burner and it did well with my 14" wok. I could overwhelm it if I put too much in for its size. Perhaps it could have been a tad hotter, but I blackened food on the stove without a problem.

For those unhappy with size (when size matters), I suggest thinking about drilling out the orifice for one burner. I did this on my Jenn-Air and it made a world of difference. This is not for the amateur idiot... It would be good to have orifice drills (like used on carburetors), or a 0-60 drill set, and be sensible about your approach. I think I went up .006-.010" in diameter. Perhaps not all cook tops/stoves have individual, removable orifices, but this Jenn-Air did.

Banished from Chowhound; I like it just fine on eGullet!

If you`re not big enough to lose, you`re not big enough to win! Try this jalapeno, son. It ain't hot...

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John, any update to share?

It arrived (from Amazon) and it works... fine. Not quite as wok-torchingly hot as I think I expected, and the wind shielding could be better, but it's good and it's hot and I've made several excellent meals with it. I haven't quite settled on a wok to use with it... I have a 14" carbon steel pao wok and a 16" Cantonese-style cast iron wok, and I've gone back and forth between the two and while both work, neither seems quite right. I suspect a 16" carbon pao wok would be better than either and I'll probably order one shortly.

The 22" wok that came with it is kind of ridiculous... I haven't managed to properly season it yet, but I'll do so and play with it eventually.

John Rosevear

"Brown food tastes better." - Chris Schlesinger

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  • 3 months later...

I've just moved into a new place and in designing the kitchen, it just struck me that I have a steel-lined concrete-slab ceiling and corrugated-tin walls with bedrock behind. Remembering this thread and similar from last time I was dreaming about indoor 'woking', I'm thinking it now might be a possibility.

I've read many fire safety warnings about running these things indoors, and how many underestimate how fierce they can be.

So I'll get an externally vented commercial exhaust system if I need it to handle the fume issue.

I'm thinking of somehow mounting the burner on granite/Caesarstone/(firebricks?) for stability and heat capability but I notice commercial units are water cooled.

Can anyone suggest where other problems may lie? What exactly is the safety issue with them? Is it the huge amount of heat at ceiling height, or do they flare up, or superheat whatever they are mounted in causing it to explode? I assume the heat to the sides of the heat can't be too excessive otherwise the operator would tan, but I am concerned how close the fridge should be to it.

I also notice indoor units have flame cut-out detection and reignition--I can see that as being important for normal gas hobs where you can leave something cooking for hours, but anytime I've used a wok before on high heat, I'm never leaving it unattended.

Any thoughts?

Cheers

Edited by Steb (log)
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Concluded just to make it an outdoor wok--powerful enough exhaust fans get super expensive, plus I need another fan to pump in fresh air. So I ordered one of these '130kbtu' high-pressure propane burners with adjustable 0-30psi regulator. Also noticed that Grace Young's latest book was released back in May.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Well I'm impressed--this burner was a fantastic purchase. I've got next to zero experience in Chinese cooking and first two recipes I did from Grace Young's 'Stir Frying to the Sky's Edge' definitely more than satisfied my taste buds.

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  • 1 month later...

While it can't compare to the stuff you can do outside, and while I'm still lusting after the Town Foodservice mobile wok cart (http://townfood.com/ranges_mobile.html), we are getting a Capital Culinarian range, and were pretty impressed with the wok setup for it when we checked it out at their factory. The burners are 23k, open burner, and they have a dedicated wok grate. 23-25k seems to be about as good as you can get for something that's speced for home use indoors.

For those of you using tripod type devices without a heavy-duty wok chamber -- don't you find it a little hard to do wok cooking on something so shaky / unstable?

Edited by Will (log)
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  • 4 months later...

Someone stole my outdoor burner I've been using for stir fry's and I'm looking to replace it with a taller one more appropriate for stir frying. As of March 2011, it looks like the only real options are the:

1. Big Kahuna Burner

2. PF13L70 from Outdoorstirfry

(3rd option was the Bayou Classic Sportsman Choice Deluxe - but I ruled this out since it seems to be less well known and looks less stable)

I've read of relatively good experiences on the Kahuna, but not much on the OutdoorStirFry.com options. Anyone have experience with this? It looks fairly homemade, so I question the longterm reliability.

Does the Big Kahuna allow the wok (16 or 18 inch) to fit appropriately close to the burner? I've also read of concerns of rusting...

Thanks,

Ryan

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Eastman Outdoors also offers a burner and wok set with an 18 inch wok. It seems to be a smaller burner too, but I'm not sure. Says it goes to 65k btu somewhere, though technical data is sparsely spread around the web on these.

Would this smaller unit make sense, or would I hate myself for not getting the larger one? I doubt I'll ever need a 22 inch wok, nor do I have a clue where I'd even store this, maybe it'll make a great sled in winter? I'd probably even try to season and use it, but it's certainly beyond what I'll ever need.

Makes me wonder, can a wok be too big for what I'm cooking? Meaning, would I burn a one person meal to crisps, or does the larger one simply allow me to cook for 10 if I have to, but also allows me to cook for one or two or four?

I have two tanks sitting around from my old gas grill and am contemplating building a nice rollable table for my big green egg where I could see having a side burner built in as well - a jet engine side burner :-)

Seems like the big kahuna by itself is not available but as a set you can find it in several places for about $180.

"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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Personally, the more power the better. I've cooked on woks via your average short propane burner for 2 years. I regularly used it for dinner for 1-3 people, but that usually means 1-4 dishes, so they are adequately sized to the burner. The burner was about 50K BTUs with a 16 inch wok, and would not add more food than your typical sized chinese dish.

I'd caution against actually using the 22 inch wok on the flame. As others have stated on here, I think you would need a really serious (even more than the kahuna) burner to cook appropriately on a 22 inch wok - meaning you need both more power and a wider source of heat.

The round bottom woks (typical of the normal carbon steel catonese woks) slope gently and you are able to control the heat reasonably well (i.e. reduce the heat or pull away for a few seconds). So I don't realistically think there is a thing as too much heat.

Maybe I am missing something, but it looks like the Big Kahuna is available standalone here: http://www.amazon.com/Eastman-Outdoors-90411-Portable-Adjustable/dp/B003GISCDK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1300136786&sr=8-1

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thanks!

The one you link to on Amazon is the "portable" one, good for woks up to 18 inches. Certainly big enough for what I think I'll ever use, but it's hard to figure out tech specs for this one and compare it to the big one. Is the burner the same? Just a smaller/more portable stand? I'd be happy with that. I just sent them an e-mail, of course they're closed already on the East Coast.

Edit to add: I'm also considering the Bayou Classic turkey fryer set, which costs less, comes with a pot and all kinds of inserts to do different things. They say it delivers about 55.000 BTU and I can't tell from the photos if a wok would fit on there w/o suffocating the fire or something? Curious if anybody here uses that setup. I would guess that the heat is plenty, especially since most here seem to never turn their kahuna all the way to full power. I'm interested in blacksmithing and glass blowing, but not on a cooking unit :laugh:

Edited by OliverB (log)

"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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one other question came to mind: some here use the kahuna which supposedly has some 65k btu, I think Chris A. said his has 50 or 55 and he never turns it up all the way, infenoo on the other hand now seems to have something close to 200BTU.

Now, if I consider that all of these are running on your regular gas grill propane bottle, I'm confused. I don't know anything about gas burners, but that a bbq side burner brings 35k BTU and an other burner can bring 200BTU seems a bit outlandish to me. I can see that different nozzle designs and more or less openings and other such things make a difference, but can it be that much? A bbq probably has exactly what is needed to do a bit of side cooking, keeping a sauce warm, boiling corn, etc. No need for more heat. But can you really get that big difference out of different burner setups when you attach the same gas bottle with the same gas and pressure inside?

And, how much heat/btu could we agree on being above enough for wok cooking? Chris A seems very happy with his, Chris H. the same with the Kahuna (do you turn it all the way up?) and I'm wondering if I should get a Kahuna or a turkey fryer that costs half or less and comes with a pot for the turkey and some other things to maybe make a big prawn cook out or something like that. Seems a nice extra option, and who knows, I might even fry a turkey (or something else) in it some day.

Thanks for insight!

"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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Just got a reply from the Kahuna people:

Thank you for contacting us. Both burners have the same burner element

and regulator which produces 65,000 BTU's. The Portable Kahuna burner

will take up to an 18 inch wok or a 30 qt cooking pot. While the Big

Kahuna burner will take up to a 22 inch wok and a 36 qt cooking pot.

Both burners adjust and are stored the same way.

so aside of the frame work and parts on top it appears they are the same, in which case I'd decide for the 18 inch version, plenty big for my purpose. I'm still waiting to hear back from the turkey people and will post what they say.

"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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And, how much heat/btu could we agree on being above enough for wok cooking?

Partly depends on cooking style (i.e., 'chao' vs. 'bao'). Commercial wok burners seem to range from about 60K-140K BTU/hr (natural gas) and 40K-120K (propane) at max flame, maybe a bit higher. However, the chamber design in a commercial wok range is somewhat different - the flame is directed straight up, but there's somewhat of a gap between the pan and the burner. And, the restaurant chefs using these burners have great ventilation and liquid cooling, and lots of practice / experience controlling both the pan and the heat.

Also, different types of ranges will have different burner designs, either a jet that goes more or less directly straight up, or dual ring burners, with independent controls. If I'm not mistaken, the former is more common for northern style kitchens with slightly smaller, single handle 'bao' woks, and the latter more common for Cantonese style woks. You can do the 'bao' motion with a large Cantonese wok too, but from what I've been told, you kind of use the ring for leverage and do a kind of partial turn, rather than actually lift it up completely (which would be difficult or impossible).

I would think that for home / backyard use, things on the lower side of these numbers would probably be fine for most folks, and in some cases, maybe a bit safer too.

I would love to have a higher wok flame than I have now (I've got a Capital Culinarian, which at 23K BTU/hr open burner with a very heavy duty cast iron base, is about as good as it gets for an indoor wok burner), but I'd be a bit worried about stability and wind / ventilation with some of the outdoor products I've seen mentioned. I love the Town Food mobile wok cart, but $3k for something I'm not sure I'd use often seems a bit excessive. Anyone know of something in between these two extremes? I'd really like something that's very heavy duty and stable, and with a really heavy duty ring / chamber for the wok to sit in.

Edited by Will (log)
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I've heard a number of comments suggesting that the Big Kahuna might be unstable, and I guess I don't quite understand the notion. The stability of the tripod, wok, and burner have simply never crossed my mind, and I've used the setup over a hundred times. You are NOT using this to make a meal for twenty: you are using it to make a meal for four, at least in "wok" mode. It's completely stable as far as I'm concerned.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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I have not read the entire thread carefully. I don't know if this has been discussed.

With a burner like this, a powerful exhaust fan is not enough. You must have a very good grease filter as well. At such high temperature, oil can evaporate just like water and condense inside the duct work. That can create a mess and fire hazard.

Even with a good filter, oil still condenses. The duct system should be serviceable without having to demolish your kitchen.

There is no exhaust fan powerful enough to prevent oil splatter. You know all surfaces around the burner should be washable.

You also know that atomized oil or oil vapor can explode or flame violently.

dcarch

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I'm hoping to hear back form the Kahuna people if they sell the big one with a smaller wok as a set as well. I'd rather not have a 22 inch wok to store somewhere. Also hope they tell me that the big kahuna can still be bought as a single unit.

"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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I got a reply from Bayou Classic, I asked if their fryer would work with a wok:

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

Hi Oliver,

Thank you for you email. We actually would only recommend the SP10 (High

Pressure Burner) for Wok cooking. The heat output is ideal, and the heat shield

on the burner would help protect the flame from any oil.

http://www.bayouclassiccooking.com/high-pressure-cooker.html

We do sell a Turkey Fryer Kit with a SP10 unit (which, many people also use for

steaming lobsters, clams and crawfish boils too)

http://www.bayouclassiccooking.com/32qtstststfy.html or if you want a more

reasonable option you could purchase the SP10 and then this Aluminum

Turkey Fryer Kit as well

http://www.bayouclassiccooking.com/30qt-aluminum-turkey-fry30.html.

Hope this helps!

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

That burner is rated 185.000 BTU, so definitely hot enough! (I'm getting a bit confused by these wide ranges of BTUs on items that seem very similar. Is there a clear definition on how to get to this rating, or is it a marketing gimmick?)

Problem I see with this burner is that the cooking surface is flat, I can't imagine balancing a round bottom wok on there in a safe manner. I guess the big or portable kahuna is a better solution.

"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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And an other reply from the Kahuna folks, I had asked if they would also sell the big kahuna with the small wok:

=======

Hello,

Yes, that is correct the Big Kahuna burner is only available with the wok kit. We only recommend using the wok that comes with the kit as it is specially fitted to sit properly on the burner.

Also, we cannot customize the wok kits.

Thank you,

Stacey

==========

So they don't even recommend using a smaller wok on the big kahuna, that's interesting. Those that have the Big Kahuna, is this an issue? Does a smaller wok wobble around or get too close to the flame?

"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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I use a 16" wok on mine: it doesn't get much chance to wobble because I use the wok technique where you are constantly tossing the whole wok, not using a spatula on just the ingredients. But it seems to sit fine when I deep fry in it, I guess. I mean, the wok doesn't conform exactly to the contours of the ring, but it's still got four points of contact at a minimum. I don't know what it would do if I wasn't holding on to the wok's handle and flipping food around with a spatula, though.

Edited by Chris Hennes
wok size correction (log)

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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