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jemartin

Best Woks and Outdoor Wok Burners

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Posted (edited)

I'm interested in learning to cook Chinese food with a similar flavor quality as you would get in a good Chinese restaurant with a lot of wok hei.  I did a small amount of reading from books like Stir Frying to the Sky's Edge and Breath of the Wok to get some background knowledge on this topic, but still have some questions.

 

I purchased this burner to get more heat and increase the wok hei in my stir fries, which claims to have 65,000 BTU output (I saw many people on these forums mention using it in other threads, so I'm guessing it's a good choice, but just wanted to check).  There appear to be videos of people cooking on it on the Amazon page with traditional round-bottom woks, so I'm assuming it will work well with round bottom woks. This burner should also have plenty of BTUs to get restaurant-quality wok hei, right? I saw there were other burners on the market that have higher BTUs, but I thought they might not be as good for this purpose since they were not purpose-built for wok cooking. Can any of you comment on this?

 

Before realizing that round-bottom woks are better and allow cooking with less oil, I purchased this wok from my local Sur la Table, which is a 14" flat-bottom carbon steel wok imported from Taiwan. Now I am somewhat interested in finding a more authentic/traditional carbon steel wok with a round bottom for use with the new burner I mentioned above, but am having trouble finding one I like. I'm trying to find one sold by a reputable company which is produced in a country with decent cookware regulations and safety laws to minimize health risks associated with lead contamination in cookware, such as Japan.  (I'm hoping to avoid woks from countries such as China, because of scary stories like  thisthisthisthis or this about product safety or reliability issues). 

 

While this wok fails my lead safety requirements I just mentioned, it is the type I should be looking for to get this wok hei on my new burner, right? I was wondering, because I noticed in videos that Chinese restaurants like PF Chang's they use woks that are all one metal piece with no wood on them, and the handles are always made of the same metal that the wok itself is made of. Can anyone else comment on this? Do you use woks with wooden handles for ultra high-heat Chinese cooking, or do you prefer the woks that are all metal and have metal handles?  Does anyone have suggestions for good woks that meet my criteria mentioned above? Would my Sur la Table wok be a bad choice for use with my new high heat burner because of the wood handles and flat bottom?


PF Chang's restaurants say in their YouTube video  that they use these carbon steel woks from Japan because Japan makes the best woks for this style of high-heat cooking, but unfortunately they don't provide information about the company.  The building says "Summit" on it, but I could not find any Summit brand woks on Amazon unless they come from third-party sellers (not sure how reputable they are). If anyone knows where I could get one of these Japanese carbon steel woks they show in the video (or something similar you personally think is of great quality for my purposes), that would be terrific.


Edited by jemartin people complained I posted the same link twice, so I edited the post to include a diversity of sources. (log)

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There are already several threads discussing this, such as this one.

 

If you search for 'wok' using the search feature at the top of the page, you will find many more.

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6 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

There are already several threads discussing this, such as this one.

 

That thread is from 2005... 13 years ago.

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1 minute ago, jemartin said:

 

That thread is from 2005... 13 years ago.

 

Wok technology has not changed that much.

 

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Posted (edited)
Quote

That thread is from 2005... 13 years ago.

 

So?

 

I have two woks, which are used every day. One is 18 years old and  the other about a year younger. I would still recommend them. Wok design hasn't changed for millennia.


Edited by liuzhou (log)

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Posted (edited)
49 minutes ago, JoNorvelleWalker said:

 

Wok technology has not changed that much.

 

 

My post was about a lot more than just wok technology... it also discusses burners and the best items from a product safety perspective based on specific criteria.  The thread from 2005 you referred to makes no mention of this, and does not discuss products from the perspective of the product safety criteria I mentioned in my initial post. The available products on the market (woks, burners) have changed a lot in 13 years. Companies have surely introduced many new products since then, and taken old ones off the market.  The basic wok or burner technology may be the same, but new companies come along and introduce new burners, some of which may be higher quality, have lower prices, be more efficient, be more durable, or be better in some other way.

 

Even if a company releases a burner or wok in 2005 that seems to work well at that time, that may later be taken off the market and replaced with other newer products for product safety reasons, durability issues, design flaws, or other issues. For example, while this wok is still on the market and presumably uses the same wok technology as many woks from a long time ago, reviewers of this particular product on the Amazon page are clearly criticizing this product because of design flaws and durability issues associated with the handle breaking off during cooking.  There may be similar issues with some particular burner from 2005, there may be better burners available in 2018 that don't have these design flaws or durability issues, or perhaps a particular burner or wok model from 2005 referred to in the thread is no longer even available. 

 

But again, all of that aside, the thread you referred to makes no reference to the product safety issues I brought up in my initial post.


Edited by jemartin (log)

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Burners possibly.  I confess I just cook with my flat bottomed ones on an electric stove.

 

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You want a Peking/Beijing style wok. I'd suggest one of these from Korin.

 

I discuss my recent burner purchase over in the other thread from 2005. Though I just purchased my burner in 2018, the design isn't markedly different from the one in the original post from more than a decade prior.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, btbyrd said:

You want a Peking/Beijing style wok.

 

Yes. The wok referred to in the PF Chang video linked to in @jemartin 's first post is a Beijing wok as shown in the video.
 

1931004185_beijingwok.jpg.51c92a4ec039b0109e2981581a1813b9.jpg

 

It reads:  Beijing Wok 36cm 10 pieces.

 

The company is Summit Kogyo, 123-1 Matsuhashi Tsubame-shi, Niigata, Japan

Website: http://www.tetsunaberyu.jp

 

They do not appear to have a retail outlet and some of their woks have minimum purchase amounts of 10 and upwards. They do so sell a few individual woks through Chinese website Alibaba here, but not the model in the video. Amazon would be a lot easier and safer.

 

_______________________________

 

I can point out something that has changed in the last few years and it isn't woks. That rather hysterical Washington Times article linked to (twice) in the original post is seven years old. Things have much improved, and anyway there has never been a case reported of a Chinese wok being contaminated with lead or anything else.

 

On an aside, I have never seen anyone use a wok burner domestically in over 20 years in China. I wouldn't know where to buy one.


Edited by liuzhou (log)

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On 7/2/2018 at 1:25 AM, liuzhou said:

On an aside, I have never seen anyone use a wok burner domestically in over 20 years in China. I wouldn't know where to buy one.

 

What does one use domestically in China? Just any old stove or hob?

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Posted (edited)
On 7/4/2018 at 10:15 PM, Hassouni said:

 

What does one use domestically in China? Just any old stove or hob?

 

In cities, 99% of people use these:

 

cooker.jpg.390b09346277393cba28a24dd6ac5ab8.jpg

 

fuelled by either bottled gas or, more recently, piped gas. My apartment has piped gas which does throw out at a higher pressure, giving me more heat.

 

Also popular in recent years are free-standing portable induction cookers necessitating flat bottom woks. These are mainly used for hot pots, which do not require such high heat, but can be conveniently placed on the dining table. I do, however, see people using them every day for stir frying at their workplace - usually outside small shops where the staff rustle up lunch.

 

In the countryside , naked fire burning in an old oil drum is very common. Fuelled by gathered wood or by coal briquettes. The briquettes were common in the cities 20 years  ago, but have largely been outlawed for environmental reasons. Beijing smog 20 years ago was almost entirely domestically produced.


Edited by liuzhou (log)
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So are the high-heat stir fries we all obsess over mostly restaurant fare, in that case?

 

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3 minutes ago, Hassouni said:

So are the high-heat stir fries we all obsess over mostly restaurant fare, in that case?

 

 

Yes, absolutely.

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Posted (edited)

Here is a typical wok set-up in China. This is outside a small photographer's studio near my home.  Mainly passport type photos from what I can see. I spotted it this noon.  Rather than close the shop / studio for lunch the woman photographer makes lunch on the street outside her place.

 

wok.jpg.f6f6ac12f3f6f99dda46d81c3746e711.jpg

 

The shop next door is a hairdressing place and the staff there (about 4) take turns each day to make lunch on a similar set-up.  As do many small businesses.


Edited by liuzhou (log)
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4 hours ago, liuzhou said:

Here is a typical wok set-up in China.

 This certainly smashes any myths I may have believed!  

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Posted (edited)
On 7/5/2018 at 1:07 PM, liuzhou said:

The shop next door is a hairdressing place and the staff there (about 4) take turns each day to make lunch on a similar set-up. 

 

...and here it is.

 

20180707_125807.jpg.300893d3fc1b6570b5abc01a02649f79.jpg

 

I hope he doesn't burn lunch while playing with his phone.

 

Edited to add:

 

Seems he managed to get off his phone long enough to cook successfully

 

Here are is staff lunch.

eating.jpg.11c9da9d1f70c5f9d01a903d6fbb8810.jpg
 

(Actually that is the next day, and a different member of staff cooked.)


Edited by liuzhou (log)
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@jemartin -

 

You might want to consider a 16" - 18" carbon steel wok such as this one. I have an Eastman Big Kahuna burner and a 16" spun steel wok (I think made by Atlas Metal Spinning) that has two welded-on steel handles, and pairs well w/ the Big Kahuna.

 

[Trivia: PF Chang was started by Philip Chang, son of Cecilia Chang (of The Mandarin fame).]

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47 minutes ago, ojisan said:

a 16" - 18" carbon steel wok such as this one.

 

 

Which one? Your link just goes to the company's home page.

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4 hours ago, ojisan said:

 

 

That wok, as the description indicates, is a flat bottomed wok designed for use on electric stove tops and  therefore is not what the OP was looking for. It wouldn't be suitable for a high heat wok burner.

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13 hours ago, liuzhou said:

 

 

That wok, as the description indicates, is a flat bottomed wok designed for use on electric stove tops and  therefore is not what the OP was looking for. It wouldn't be suitable for a high heat wok burner.

Wokshop's website uses the same description for both the round and flat bottom versions - there is a separate page to order the flat bottom version. The link I gave goes to the page that clearly says "round bottom".

There is also a separate "commercial" page for 18" and larger size versions of the same wok.

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Posted (edited)
20 minutes ago, ojisan said:

Wokshop's website uses the same description for both the round and flat bottom versions - there is a separate page to order the flat bottom version. The link I gave goes to the page that clearly says "round bottom".

There is also a separate "commercial" page for 18" and larger size versions of the same wok.

 

Following your link takes me to this

 

wok.jpg.5b78298410f95293cf16841b0d382a55.jpg

 

The description clearly says

 

Quote

This wok is a heavy-duty 14-gauge carbon steel. The flat bottom is designed to sit directly on an electric coil stovetop or grills to take advantage of all the heat since wok cooking is done with high heat.

 

Glad see that it weighs nothing, though.


Edited by liuzhou (log)
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