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China Food Myths


liuzhou
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I will openly admit to buying into the myth about a wok needing high BTUs. Just putting my brain into gear should have dismissed the myth as logically unlikely outside of a restaurant setting. But apparently I didn’t take the time to think it through. 

 

It is regrettable because otherwise I might have used my wok much more frequently. It always struck me as an extremely well designed implement. Don’t do much cooking anymore so my wok is acquiring a lovely patina of dust. But I still have it so who knows.

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

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Ming Tsai

 

of Simply Ming  ( PBS )

 

and several local restaurants

 

very very good ones

 

had an Induction Hob for a special Wok on one of his early seasons

 

of   " Simply Ming. he has also cooked in a few Chinese Restaurants in China

 

on those massive extremely hot rest.woks.

 

he only used the induction wok set up a few times.   I could tell the wok got very very hot

 

the hob was concave and perfectly fit the wok that was pared to it.

 

Im guessing he took it off the show

 

as " Viewers like You "   were never going to get one for their home kitchen

 

cost i believe at the time for the set up :

 

10 - 15,000 USD.

 

plenty of hei  for 15 K !

 

 

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3 hours ago, weinoo said:

I have a friend or two who I argue with about this all the time.  Some have gone so far as to buy high BTU propane burners - of course, they have backyards or other outdoor availability. I've cautioned them not to burn down their houses.

Yea, I don't get the allure of the wok blaster for the home cook. I put it in the impractical and unnecessary bragging rights category.  More important to have a decent wok that can handle and distribute heat evenly.  

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Something regarding wild or controversial meats which I meant to mention, then forgot:

 

If you plan to visit China anytime (once you are permitted in), do not worry about accidentally ordering or being served something you'd never knowingly eat. Wild food, due to its legal status, is wildly expensive (pun intended).  No one is going to serve you it as a cruel joke.

Dog, cat, horse and donkey restaurants proudly display the animals they are selling either in cages or in pictures.

 

DSC00435.thumb.jpg.392957e53ff2c9dc56aea12e6336c65c.jpg

Adjacent horse meat restaurants in Guilin, China

 

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On 11/20/2020 at 2:07 AM, Hassouni said:

And not cook 1lb of meat in it at a time....

 

Actually, you can. I have done so, just not stir-fried. As I said, you can cook almost anything in it. 95% of the lunches and dinners I post here are wok-cooked. Chinese, Italian, Middle-Eastern, British, French, Indian, Greek et al.

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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21 hours ago, Anna N said:

It always struck me as an extremely well designed implement.

 

The shape of wok worked well with old technique of thin cast iron making as well as hand making. Long time ago when I was visiting China, I have seen how steel wok making with using only one tool, a hammer. workers could shape a round disk of steel into a wok quickly without years of experience.

 

Interestingly, the wok shape also worked perfectly with old irregular shaped clay wood fired stoves or any shaped coal, charcoal stoves. It always stayed level for cooking.

 

Truly "Form Follows Function." (FFF), "Less Is More".

 

dcarch

Edited by dcarch (log)
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13 minutes ago, dcarch said:

 

The shape of wok worked well with old technique of thin cast iron making as well as hand making. Long time ago when I was visiting China, I have seen how steel wok making with using only one tool, a hammer. workers could shape a round disk of steel into a wok quickly without years of experience.

 

Interestingly, the wok shape also worked perfectly with old irregular shaped clay wood fired stoves or any shaped coal, charcoal stoves. It always stayed level for cooking.

 

Truly "Form Follows Function."

 

dcarch

 

The woks I mentioned in this photograph are hand made with a hammer.

 

woks.thumb.jpg.aea87058e3dca4cce38e2ceae4bc13fe.jpg

 

Now rather uncommon.

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22 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

 

The woks I mentioned in this photograph are hand made with a hammer.

 

woks.thumb.jpg.aea87058e3dca4cce38e2ceae4bc13fe.jpg

 

Now rather uncommon.

 

Some of those look like they might even be nonstick surfaces? Has that become more common?

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1 minute ago, liuzhou said:

 

No! None are non-stick! Dreadful idea!

Just different metals.

 

Ahhh, of course - also the lighting might be fooling my ancient retinas.  Those on the bottom row, towards the back, with the red handles are what I was confused by.

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4 minutes ago, weinoo said:

 

Ahhh, of course - also the lighting might be fooling my ancient retinas.  Those on the bottom row, towards the back, with the red handles are what I was confused by.

 

The red handled things aren't woks. I forget what they are but not woks.

Edited by liuzhou (log)

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

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16 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

 

The red handled things aren't woks. I forget what they are but not woks.

Now you're really confusing me!  Looking more closely, maybe it's just a sort of frying pan?

 

Does anyone use the one handled wok at home, or are they all pretty much with the two loop handles?

 

image.thumb.png.8be5e30b12043263cd8960cfd1f36b43.png

 

 

 

 

image.png

Edited by weinoo (log)
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4 minutes ago, weinoo said:

Now you're really confusing me!  Looking more closely, maybe it's just a sort of frying pan?

 

Does anyone use the one handled wok at home, or are they all pretty much with the two loop handles?

 

Well, my ocular talents are on a level with yours. One day I'll go back and check, but it's not a part of town I normally frequent.

 

Most people, in my experience, do use the long handled style. Both my woks are so designed. It tends to be called the Beijing style. I forget what the other kind with two loops is called - the impractical kind?

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

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I have the 2 handle but wish I had the 1 for easier tossing.  Those upfront, top and bottom look hand made.  The green bottomed and all black (w look like teflon) and plastic handles look like the mass produced cheapos we see here.

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3 minutes ago, Eatmywords said:

I have the 2 handle but wish I had the 1 for easier tossing.  Those upfront, top and bottom look hand made.  The green bottomed and all black (w look like teflon) and plastic handles look like the mass produced cheapos we see here.

 

I can assure you none of them are Teflon.

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

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2 hours ago, weinoo said:

Now you're really confusing me!  Looking more closely, maybe it's just a sort of frying pan?

 

Does anyone use the one handled wok at home, or are they all pretty much with the two loop handles?

 

image.thumb.png.8be5e30b12043263cd8960cfd1f36b43.png

 

 

 

 

image.png

 

Mine is like the first example.

Don't ask. Eat it.

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I don't think it's exactly a myth about needing high BTUs, but more heat is better. I cooked for many years with a wok on a so-so average stove and it was okay, but then I got a Viking. The flame is big, although I would have to go through stacks of old manuals to locate the original specs re the BTUs. The stove has heavy cast iron grates and I have an optional cast iron wok grate that I can switch in as needed. Clearly I'm not getting the kind of heat they get in commercial wok kitchens, but my wok gets hotter than on any other stove I've ever used, and that seems to be a good thing.

 

The wok is carbon steel, relatively heavy, with one long wooden handle. The ones with two short loop handles don't seem very practical, but I suppose it's about what you are used to.  Don't those handles get awfully hot? I purchased mine when I lived on the edge of SF Chinatown about forty years ago and I use it at least once a week. I think of it as being a very typical round bottom shape. No longer lovely, but at this point it hasn't changed its venerable look for years. I hope it lasts the rest of my life.

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Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I'd assume that the 2 loop handled wok is mainly used for deep frying, boiling or steaming.  Unless the wok is HUGE, in which case it's not going to be picked up to toss the food anyway - in which case the two loop handles would be fine for stir frying since really they just stay out of the way until you want to move the wok to a new location.

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2 hours ago, KennethT said:

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I'd assume that the 2 loop handled wok is mainly used for deep frying, boiling or steaming.  Unless the wok is HUGE, in which case it's not going to be picked up to toss the food anyway - in which case the two loop handles would be fine for stir frying since really they just stay out of the way until you want to move the wok to a new location.

When I purchased my first wok, way back in the previous century (okay, 1977 or so), I don't even think they offered one-handled ones. I only remember seeing the two loop handles, carbon steel. But I could be misremembering.

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On 11/21/2020 at 12:52 AM, KennethT said:

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I'd assume that the 2 loop handled wok is mainly used for deep frying, boiling or steaming.  Unless the wok is HUGE, in which case it's not going to be picked up to toss the food anyway - in which case the two loop handles would be fine for stir frying since really they just stay out of the way until you want to move the wok to a new location.

 

Largely, yes. Also for hot pots.

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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Is the "laoganma" brand of sauces really as popular as I am led to believe?

"As life's pleasures go, food is second only to sex.Except for salami and eggs...Now that's better than sex, but only if the salami is thickly sliced"--Alan King (1927-2004)

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1 hour ago, Naftal said:

Is the "laoganma" brand of sauces really as popular as I am led to believe?

 

Yes. Very popular. Every supermarket and corner store has it. There are also a huge number of competitors in the hot sauce aisles.

 

1791525096_laoganma(original).thumb.jpg.dbdfef4fe06546e045036d0b9dd41c6d.jpg

 

1543578598_laoganma(original)2.thumb.jpg.740954bd5a4cc50a8978f05a418bcd4a.jpg

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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      This little girl is posing with the Malaysian Consul-General.
       
      After meeting these people we went on to visit a 芦笙 (lú shēng) workshop. The lusheng is a reed wind instrument and an important element in the Miao, Dong and Yao peoples' cultures.
       

       

       
      Then at last we headed to the restaurant, but as is their custom, in homes and restaurants, guests are barred from entering until they go through the ritual of the welcoming cup of home-brewed rice wine.
       


      The consular staff from Myanmar/Burma and Malaysia "unlock" the door.
       
      Then you have the ritual hand washing part.
       

       
      Having attended to your personal hygiene, but before  entering the dining room, there is one more ritual to go through. You arrive here and sit around this fire and wok full of some mysterious liquid on the boil.
       

       
      On a nearby table is this
       

       
      Puffed rice, soy beans, peanuts and scallion. These are ladled into bowls.
       

       
      with a little salt, and then drowned in the "tea" brewing in the wok.
       
      This is  油茶 (yóu chá) or Oil Tea. The tea is made from Tea Seed Oil which is made from the seeds of the camellia bush. This dish is used as a welcoming offering to guests in homes and restaurants. Proper etiquette suggests that three cups is a minimum, but they will keep refilling your cup until you stop drinking. First time I had it I really didn't like it, but I persevered and now look forward to it.
       

      L-R: Director of the Foreign Affairs Dept of Liuzhou government, consuls-general of Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos.
       
      Having partaken of the oil tea, finally we are allowed to enter the dining room, where two tables have been laid out for our use.
       

       
      Let the eating, finally, begin.
       
      In no particular order:
       

      Steamed corn, taro and sweet potato
       

      Bamboo Shoots
       

      Duck
       

      Banana leaf stuffed with sticky rice and mixed vegetables and steamed.
       

      Egg pancake with unidentified greenery
       

      Stir fried pork and beans
       

      Stir fried Chinese banana (Ensete lasiocarpum)
       

      Pig Ears
       

       
      This may not look like much, but was the star of the trip. Rice paddy fish, deep fried in camellia tree seed oil with wild mountain herbs. We ate this at every meal, cooked with slight variations, but never tired of it.
       

      Stir fried Greens
       
      Our meal was accompanied by the wait staff singing to us and serving home-made rice wine (sweetish and made from the local sticky rice).
       
       
       
       
      Everything we ate was grown or reared within half a kilometre of the restaurant and was all free-range, organic. And utterly delicious.
       
      Roll on dinner time.
       
      On the trip I was designated the unofficial official photographer and ended up taking 1227 photographs. I just got back last night and was busy today, so I will try to post the rest of the first day (and dinner) as soon as I can.
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