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Butane burner for wok cooking?


jrshaul
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I have a less than excellent stove, and would like a butane burner for indoor and outdoor use. I've seen Chinese cooking channels use butane for traditional wok cooking and would appreciate a recommendation. I quite like Iwatani products, but the 15000BTU 35FW is a bit steep,  and there are less expensive options of similar output - possibly some designed specifically for woks.

Alternately, I'm open to a 50,000+ BTU propane burner like this one if it offers the necessary heat. Does anyone know if these can be used with disposable propane cylinders with an adapter?

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9 minutes ago, jrshaul said:

I've seen Chinese cooking channels use butane for traditional wok cooking

 

In 25 years in China, I've never seen that! Traditional wok cooking used open wood burning fires.

Iwatani is Japanese, not Chinese.

 

Edited by liuzhou (log)

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

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13 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

 

In 25 years in China, I've never seen that! Traditional wok cooking used open wood burning fires.

Iwatani is Japanese, not Chinese.

 

 

"Traditional" as in "not the appalling claptrap that most Americans believe to be Chinese."

Iwatani makes high quality butane stoves, though none specifically designed to hold a wok. If you can suggest a Chinese alternative, I'm all ears - preferably without Iwatani's steep price.

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11 hours ago, jrshaul said:

What's the best way to make stir-fry without a decent stove?

 

Here is just one approach (not an endorsement): 

 

 

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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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On 4/7/2020 at 3:50 PM, Joe Blowe said:

 

Here is just one approach (not an endorsement):

 

 


I saw what that guy did with a butane hot plate. Not sensible in either case.

Anyone tried using a portable propane burner?

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It looks like you've been doing research, so I'm sure you've come across the outdoor propane wok burners.  They have upwards or exceed 100k btu, usually don't come with a stand.  If you have any asian-centric areas like a chinatown or japantown nearby, go browse stores after the shut-ins are lifted and you'll find one, and can even haggle if that's your thing.  On line they seem to have gone up in price compared to 10 years ago.  I picked mine up in "Little Saigon" near my old house, haggled price down because of the rat poop in the box.  Given that, please take a moment to consider my personal PSA on these stoves.

 

They are a pain in the ass to use, ridiculously powerful, and will get a literal wok HEY out of you if you get them screaming hot and drop a little oil in with no experience.  Don't ask how I know 🙈🙉🙊

 

What I learned: these kinds of burners are awesome fun, but in the long run the whole stir-fry thing may not be worth the effort.  As simple as it looks, it really takes a lot of experience to get it right and consistent, more so than a lot of other cooking.  Cleanup is awful (grease splatters everywhere), you'll end up with undercooked or overcooked food half the time, the danger is real, and you really have to use a lot more oil than traditional stove saute/stir-frying.  Now, if you can set it up outside with plenty of dirt or grass surrounding your station, or, inside with a flowing water wall and a night-shift cleaning crew, go for it 👍 Remember the fire extinguisher.  Seriously.

 

PS: please note, this is based on my experiences, I gave it a legitimate go for 2-3 months, and eventually figured out a successful work flow.  I'm sure there are more experienced home cooks or chefs who can chime in and confirm there aren't issues and I was likely doing things wrong blah blah blah, but no one is going to convince me to go back 😝.  I found the "hey" component not worth the effort. :)

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I have a homemade (with aluminium foil) version of this https://www.wokmon.com/ that I slip on my pretty normal GE gas stove. On the largest burner, even the "low" setting is VERY hot, and on high, forget it, the seasoning vaporizes right off and the smoke detector will go off in about 2 seconds. For home cooking, it's more than enough.

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Grace Young has written wonderful cookbooks describing how to stir fry at home with typical equipment. In general she advises using a flat bottom high carbon steel wok. After that it's about limiting the amount of food that goes in a one time and technique. Stirring at the right time and leaving to sear at the right time. Also learning velveting is handy.

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Another thought, and maybe @liuzhou and others who live(d) in China can comment if I'm off the mark:

 

Most Chinese meals are a multi-dish affair, so you'd rarely have a a large enough volume of food in a single dish that you need an ultra high power flamethrower of a stove, because smaller quantities cook just fine under normal conditions. As I said, my bog standard GE stove puts out more than enough heat for a typically-sized stir-fry dish, especially with my junky al. foil modification.

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I have nothing to offer in terms of equipment but do agree w the others.  Unless it's for professional use the blasters don't seem worth it esp when you factor the danger.  I have a Thermador 6 burner (propane) that puts out prob a bit more btu's then the avg burner.  It's plenty for home use.  I found varying results came down to the quality of the wok. A good one will allow for better heat distribution and retention.  With accurate ingredient timing we can get close to resto qlty stir fries (at least we think:)  I have a circulon 14' I got at Macy's a few yrs ago for about $70 and it's light years better than the thin metal cheapos we had.  Gd luck and hope you find what you want.  Btw, hello all, it's been about 10yrs since my last post.

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That wasn't chicken

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  • 2 weeks later...

To answer my own question, the folks who do the Chinese Cooking Demystified youtube videos use exactly what I'd originally suggested - a small Iwatani butane burner good for about 10,000BTU.

 

On 4/10/2020 at 9:23 AM, jedovaty said:

 

What I learned: these kinds of burners are awesome fun, but in the long run the whole stir-fry thing may not be worth the effort.  As simple as it looks, it really takes a lot of experience to get it right and consistent, more so than a lot of other cooking.  Cleanup is awful (grease splatters everywhere), you'll end up with undercooked or overcooked food half the time, the danger is real, and you really have to use a lot more oil than traditional stove saute/stir-frying.  Now, if you can set it up outside with plenty of dirt or grass surrounding your station, or, inside with a flowing water wall and a night-shift cleaning crew, go for it 👍 Remember the fire extinguisher.  Seriously.

 


I've been eyeballing a 110,000BTU jet burner that's $40 online. I live in a tiny 1-room apartment, but it's on the ground floor, so cooking outside is appealing. Cooking for multiple people is a bit tricky with a small wok because either (a) you let everything get cold or (b) everyone eats without you, and there's the added substantial benefit of being able to deep-fry a ton of food.

That said, I'd probably avoid it without one of the gas flow pedals used in Chinese restaurants. Imagine driving your car if you had to take your hand off the wheel to work the gas pedal? (Also, the steering wheel weighs fifteen pounds and is on fire.)

 

 

On 4/10/2020 at 12:21 PM, Hassouni said:

I have a homemade (with aluminium foil) version of this https://www.wokmon.com/ that I slip on my pretty normal GE gas stove. On the largest burner, even the "low" setting is VERY hot, and on high, forget it, the seasoning vaporizes right off and the smoke detector will go off in about 2 seconds. For home cooking, it's more than enough.


My stove is a cheapo compact apartment special, good for maybe 6,000BTU. To put this in perspective, the nicer butane hotplates are good for 15,000. It boils water slower than something I used to make coffee on picnics.

That said, a burner-focusing ring like the Wokmon sounds like a good idea, especially considering they're demonstrating it on a butane hotplate.
 

On 4/10/2020 at 1:28 PM, catdaddy said:

Grace Young has written wonderful cookbooks describing how to stir fry at home with typical equipment. In general she advises using a flat bottom high carbon steel wok. After that it's about limiting the amount of food that goes in a one time and technique. Stirring at the right time and leaving to sear at the right time. Also learning velveting is handy.


I don't have typical equipment; I have a stove that can barely boil water and an oven with no numbers on the dial. The $40 butane burner is a massive improvement.
 

 

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I have a decent home stove and good ventilation, but for stir frying I still use the Big Kahuna outdoor propane burner I received as a gift about (wow...) a decade ago. I don't see how it could be adapted easily to a disposable propane tank, though. I think it's something like 60,000 BTU, which has been fine for my purposes. My meals are typically rice+cold veg+stir fry, and are for two people, so it's plenty spacious. (FYI I don't use the wok that came with the kit, I picked up an el cheapo carbon steel model with a single handle at my local Asian megamart. I prefer to physically toss the wok, rather than just use utensils, and the wok the Kahuna came with was absurdly large.) 

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On 4/24/2020 at 10:45 AM, Chris Hennes said:

I have a decent home stove and good ventilation, but for stir frying I still use the Big Kahuna outdoor propane burner I received as a gift about (wow...) a decade ago. I don't see how it could be adapted easily to a disposable propane tank, though. I think it's something like 60,000 BTU, which has been fine for my purposes. My meals are typically rice+cold veg+stir fry, and are for two people, so it's plenty spacious. (FYI I don't use the wok that came with the kit, I picked up an el cheapo carbon steel model with a single handle at my local Asian megamart. I prefer to physically toss the wok, rather than just use utensils, and the wok the Kahuna came with was absurdly large.) 


There's a fitting that allows it. Your flow is limited slightly, but unless you're trying to deep-fry an emu it's not much of a hindrance.

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  • 5 months later...

hello, guys

since that's the only thread about wok (which I've managed to find), I want to ask you, which woks are you using?

I'm really into Asian cuisine, and I'd like to make a simple wok dish at home.

I've read this article, but still have no clue choosing the right equipment!

Any help would be appreciated

 

Thanks a lot! 

Roy

roymiller.blog@gmail.com

check out my blog :)

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1 minute ago, Rou222 said:

hello, guys

since that's the only thread about wok (which I've managed to find), I want to ask you, which woks are you using?

I'm really into Asian cuisine, and I'd like to make a simple wok dish at home.

I've read this article, but still have no clue choosing the right equipment!

Any help would be appreciated

 

Thanks a lot! 

 

All you need is a wok, preferably carbon steel or cast iron, and maybe a wok stand depending on  your regular stove. Unless you are a restaurant. Chinese home cooks do not have butane burners and in a quarter of a century in China, I've never seen an electric wok! 1.4 billion people here use woks, usually more than once a day. On regular stoves and seldom ouside.

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

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As @liuzhou mentioned, you can make wonderful Chinese food without a wok as evidenced by @hzrt8w's  eGullet Chinese food pictorials (click)...not a wok in sight.

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The excellent and aforementioned Chinese Cooking Demystified has a new video discussing home stir fry techniques which appears to have been inspired by a longer conversation on Kenji's channel (which I have not yet watched). They observe in an excerpt from that discussion that a lot of the obsession with high powered burners is borne from a focus on restaurant technique that isn't really something Chinese home cooks think about. They also note that a lot of the issues people attribute to a not-hot-enough burner is really from using a wok that's too small or putting too much food in at once. (Not exactly new information for this thread but it was a nice discussion.)

That said, as someone with a flat top radiant stove, I've been quite tempted by the Iwatani 35FW — but for reasons of control, rather than heat output.

 

 

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