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hzrt8w

hzrt8w's wok and burner shopping project

177 posts in this topic

I agree the second wok appears to be carbon steel and looks like the one I have when it was new. Mine was covered with a glossy, rest-proof coating that had to be washed off before it could be seasoned.

Thanks sheetz and Dejah. That wok is probably carbon steel. I couldn't get my bearing straight to differentiate between carbon steel and stainless steel.


W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

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Ah Leung, I think that you said that you will be using your wok burner outside of the house. In that case, the sky's the limit as far as BTU count is concerned. I don't like the "looks" of the burners you have shown as they are meant to be installed in a built-in fireproof cabinet or stand. A better solution would be to go to Walmart, Dick's Sporting Goods, any hardware chain and get what they call a corn boiler or a turkey fryer burner.

[...]

Thanks for your suggestion Ben Sook. I have visited Walmart and other stores to look at some turkey fryers before. Unfortunately I have to say I am not impressed with any of the models I have seen. They looked no better than the burners I have on my regular stove. All have only 1 ring of nozzles and at 3 inch diameter. I don't think they can deliver what I seek for.


W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

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How are you handling the exhaust for using such high-heat cooking?

My kitchen exhaust fan (and it is rigged to vent to the outside) can barely keep up as is.  I would imagine doing wok cooking would require some pretty big blowers.

I have a Taiwanese made kitchen hood (designed for Chinese cooking - with extra powered exhaust fans) that I can install. Beyond that, I have the options to cook in the garage or in the backyard.


W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

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Ah Leung. My "turkey cooker" cast iron burner itself is about 8 inches in diameter with 3 concenrtic (not individually controlled though) rings of holes. This sucker is rated at 85,000 BTU. The larger units go up to 150,000BTU. Hello for "wok hei".

PS. The burners you showed upthread are "replacement " burners for commercial wok ranges, I believe.

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How are you handling the exhaust for using such high-heat cooking?

My kitchen exhaust fan (and it is rigged to vent to the outside) can barely keep up as is.  I would imagine doing wok cooking would require some pretty big blowers.

I have a Taiwanese made kitchen hood (designed for Chinese cooking - with extra powered exhaust fans) that I can install. Beyond that, I have the options to cook in the garage or in the backyard.

Does your Taiwanese kitchen hood vent to the outside? That's really important.

Mine is an old Jen-Air vented down and out...but it's old and not as effective as I'd like. I just open the window right behind me and it works fine, except when it's -40C! :laugh:


Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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I had a nonstick flat-bottomed wok, that started to lose its Teflon coating so I threw it away.

My mom and I spent forever searching for a new one - LA, Seattle, Vancouver - and I ended up getting a cast iron one which is fantastic.

Here's a link to a similar one like mine. We found it in Vancouver, BC, at the Yaohan in Richmond.

The food really does taste different - it has that special wok hei quality to it. Stir-fried greens taste totally different b/c the water evaporates on contact instead of sitting and steaming the food.

Now all I need to do is buy myself a high BTU stove.

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wonderbread:

How much does your cast iron wok weigh? Is it as heavy as a 10 inch cast iron fry pan?

Ah Leung:

I wondered about the burners you showed in your posts. To me, they also looked like the replacement burners for my "wok tables" :unsure:


Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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wonderbread:

How much does your cast iron wok weigh? Is it as heavy as a 10 inch cast iron fry pan?

They don't weigh significantly different than steel woks. They are just as thin as the steel ones and the whole thing weighs less than the handle on an American cast iron pan.

Here is a pic of mine which I suffer through using on an electric stove. I bought mine at the shop linked above though I was fortunate enough to be in driving distance to their real shop in San Francisco. Nice place with good customer service and they are perfectly fluent in english which helps for us gringos.

56495319-O.jpg

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I have had this turkey fryer for several years. I have used it for frying turkeys, chickens, steaming 100 tamales at a time, boiling shrimp, cooking huge batches of pasta for parties and for chili, soup and etc.

The burner cranks up enough heat to bring 26 quarts of water to a rolling boil in less than 10 minutes. 20 quarts of oil get to temp in 15 minutes. It has only been used outside.


Edited by andiesenji (log)

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[...]I wondered about the burners you showed in your posts. To me, they also looked like the replacement burners for my "wok tables"  :unsure:

Replacement burners I know not... They do have full frames (jackets?) to go with them. You can use them as stand-alone stoves. Fully functional. Just hook it up to a portable gas tank.


Edited by hzrt8w (log)

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

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Hello all,

I have been following this thread with interest... I have the same burner that is in the very first picture in this thread, and it seems to get plenty hot.

However, I thing it is rated at no more than 50,000 BTUs and the problem with mine is that the outer ring produces most of the heat and so the bottom of the wok which should get the most heat gets much less, and the sides get hotter than the bottom.

What do you folks think of the burners on this site?

BAYOU CLASSIC

There's one burner that is rated at 210,000 btu's....!!! for only $60.00

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Harry,

How is your burner housed? Is it part of your stove and uses household supply of natural gas? Or, is it a separate unit using a BBQ type propane tank outside?

If I were choosing the Bayou cooker in the URL you posted, I'd want the double one! Just watch my eyebrows go "POOF!" :laugh::laugh:


Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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Hello all,

I have been following this thread with interest... I have the same burner that is in the very first picture in this thread, and it seems to get plenty hot.

However, I thing it is rated at no more than 50,000 BTUs and the problem with mine is that the outer ring produces most of the heat and so the bottom of the wok which should get the most heat gets much less, and the sides get hotter than the bottom.

What do you folks think of the burners on this site?

BAYOU CLASSIC

There's one burner that is rated at 210,000 btu's....!!! for only $60.00

you know what i always wonder about those things? at 210,000 BTU/hr, how fast does it rip through a tank of propane? i mean, i know stir frying is only done for a few minutes at a time, but holy moly....

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Harry,

How is your burner housed? Is it part of your stove and uses household supply of natural gas? Or, is it a separate unit using a BBQ type propane tank outside?

If I were choosing the Bayou cooker in the URL you posted, I'd want the double one! Just watch my eyebrows go "POOF!"  :laugh:  :laugh:

dejah,

I just place the two-ring burner on my Bayou Classics SQ14... It is very stable and sturdy and the wok sits on the little projections that are on the inner ring of the two-ring burner.

It works great. The only problem, as I stated before, is that the sides of the wok get really hot, more so than the bottom.

I have been looking at wok burners at the Chinese restaurant equipment suppliers in Atlanta... now those things with the multi-angled jets, seem to be the "holy grail" of wok burners... very drool worthy.

Oddly I can't find any of them (Chinese rest. equip. suppliers) on the web.

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I don't want to get into too much physics, but BTUs are not always the best way of measuring how much heat your burner is going to give off.

Besides, what you really want to pay attention to with the turkey fryer type burners is how high they stand (it hurts to bend over and stir-fry after a while) and whether or not there is a regulator as part of the system so you can turn it down. We have a wimpy (hah) Camp Chef burner that has been rated at 70,000 BTU. For stir-frying, we turn it down to the lowest setting and you still have to be quick quick or your stuff burns. The down side to it is that it doesn't really have a way of keeping the wok steady. We saw really cool things stands in Asia that do a much better job. I even tried to figure out a way to buy one and get it home, without much luck.

The propane tanks last a long time. We use our burner for cooking and making beer and probably go through 1 and a half tanks/ summer.

regards,

trillium

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Just stay drooling, _john. I can't imagine you using one of these in the typical Japanese kitchen! :shock::laugh:

I had a 3-wok unit in my restaurant. Two for all stir-fries, the other one specifically for fried rice and noodles, and a separate one-wok unit just for deep frying. This unit sits between 2 deep fryers for "finishing": one for seafood items and the other unit for chicken, etc.

I miss my wok tables. :sad: I should have kept the single unit and set up an outdoor kitchen!


Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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I don't want to get into too much physics, but BTUs are not always the best way of measuring how much heat your burner is going to give off.

Besides, what you really want to pay attention to with the turkey fryer type burners is how high they stand (it hurts to bend over and stir-fry after a while) and whether or not there is a regulator as part of the system so you can turn it down.  We have a wimpy (hah) Camp Chef burner that has been rated at 70,000 BTU.  For stir-frying, we turn it down to the lowest setting and you still have to be quick quick or your stuff burns. 

trillium makes a lot of sense to me. I have a 49K BTU Patio Wok set-up (and the wok rests wonderfully in it, I will add), and I cannot imagine turning it all the way up. It is vastly more heat than I ever use save for deep frying or boiling water.

As for BTUs, I did a search and found this great post by project, which helped me understand a bit more about the British thermal unit.


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I have a question.

How come the Chinese kitchen pictured in the "Cooking a western meal for Chinese grandmother" thread, and the pictures in hzrt's wonderful series (and great tasting Chinese food) all cook fine Chinese food &/or authentic stuff -- yet don't have ultra high heat?

I guess the answer is ---- trying to achieve restaurant heat equality, but I just thought I'd toss it out to see what comes back. (?heehee?)

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I don't want to get into too much physics, but BTUs are not always the best way of measuring how much heat your burner is going to give off.

Besides, what you really want to pay attention to with the turkey fryer type burners is how high they stand (it hurts to bend over and stir-fry after a while) and whether or not there is a regulator as part of the system so you can turn it down.  We have a wimpy (hah) Camp Chef burner that has been rated at 70,000 BTU.  For stir-frying, we turn it down to the lowest setting and you still have to be quick quick or your stuff burns. 

trillium makes a lot of sense to me. I have a 49K BTU Patio Wok set-up (and the wok rests wonderfully in it, I will add), and I cannot imagine turning it all the way up. It is vastly more heat than I ever use save for deep frying or boiling water.

As for BTUs, I did a search and found this great post by project, which helped me understand a bit more about the British thermal unit.

Yeah, that does help if you have the patience to sort through it. The funny thing with these outdoor burners is that the BTU measurement is usually for the INPUT, not the OUTPUT. The output depends on the effeciency of the burners (and how well the fuel/air ratio is adjusted, etc) and is not something that is usually advertised by the makers.

regards,

trillium

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Indoor gas kitchen ranges are more and more coming with at least one burner which is rated at 15K Btu. I have the KitchenAid model which does a great job for "normal" Chinese portions, for empty nesters like my wife and I. My outdoor burner ($49.Cdn) is rated at almost 100K Btu, I think, and it is way too hot at full blow so I almost never turn it past half way.

I wish to say again, these super high Btu monsters are not intended for non-commercial indoor use. Make sure your insurance is OK with it and paid up. Also install a commercial exhaust in your kitchen if you really must have one inside.

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I had to laugh when I saw Chris's mention of a post by "project". :blink:

Those of us on this forum may remember his "dumpling post"! The BTU was similar. MY brain is once again twisted up like a Chinese fortune cookie AND pretzel together! :wink::wacko::laugh::laugh:


Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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It was raining in Northern Cal last Saturday. And what a day to visit San Francisco to continue my search for the perfect wok!

Thanks to Andie and Chris, who pointed me to visit "The Wok Shop".

gallery_19795_2734_26994.jpg

Located on 718 Grant Ave, San Francisco, The Wok Shop is right in the tourist-frequented portion of China Town. They are right next to the famous Eastern Bakery. How could I have missed that last time I dropped by Eastern Bakery???

I stepped in to this small shop, I immediately was impressed with their selections. Woks are placed right at the entrance. I guess that's what a lot of tourists come here to shop for: a good wok. Though this is not Sur La Table or Williams Sonama, the kitchen gadgets that they carry is comparable in variety. Many are practical types, emphasized on function over form.

gallery_19795_2734_29483.jpg

The picture shown are cast-iron woks hung from the ceiling, along with some stainless steel ones.

gallery_19795_2734_26615.jpg

They even show what a seasoned wok would look like.

gallery_19795_2734_17827.jpg

And I found stacks of 14-inch carbon steel woks with 2 ears. I guess they sell a lot of these.

gallery_19795_2734_17055.jpg

And there are woks of many shapes and sizes. One can easily get confused after a while.

gallery_19795_2734_9290.jpg

A stack of 14-inch, carbon steel wok with flat bottom.

.....

That's when my excitement and admiration came to a halt.

Storekeeper#1 saw me taking pictures of their woks, and did not seem to be pleased. She abruptly pointed out pictures of the woks are all posted on their website. (This is, by the way, not a way to greet a customer... okay, prospective customer... that I am used to.). Okay. I played along and stopped taking pictures.

I started to ask a few things about these different woks, hoping to get some advice which would help me decide. Storekeeper#1 was very distant. She gave a few hollow answers. Very disengaged. She kept looking at the front door, as if a VIP customer is going to drop in any moment now. I have never seen this. I was a little embarrassed actually.

Storekeeper#1 kept looking out the door, and kept greeting the tourists who walked in the door and saying thank-you to those were going out. And this 40-some year old Chinese who speaks her own language was completely ignored. Oh... I immediately knew what that implied. I didn't fit the profile of their typical customer!

So much for citing a celebrity status on eGullet and getting some keen advice. I should have asked eje to come with me to this store. Then perhaps I would get storekeeper#1 to talk to me.

Well, I continued to browse on my own. They displayed 2 models of burners right at the entrance. Both were powerful burners, and their sizes were big. At one point I just wanted to measure the 14-inch wok against one of the burners. Storekeeper#1 said coldly: "What are you doing? This is too small a wok for this burner. You would burn the handles!"

..... Geez, where did this guy come from? Does he know anything about cooking?

Geez... I just wanted to measure this wok against the burner (because I saw one that I wanted to get in Sacramento which is similar to this). I just wanted to see how that might fit. No need to treat me as if I am an idiot. Idiot or not, I am still a (at least potential) customer.

I gotta tell you. With this kind of sales persons in the store, I just don't know how this small shop could be so successful. Sadly that this person seemed to be the manager of the store. If I don't get some product advice, the last thing that I want to get is being ridiculed - even if I don't know beans about Chinese cooking.

However, storekeeper#2 saw me showing keen interests towards these woks. She came by and started talking to me, asking me what I was looking for, etc.. Just what a NORMAL sales person would do. She took the time and explained the differences between the different kinds of woks, and even relayed her own experiences. I started to feel better.

From that conversation, I pretty much came to the following conclusions:

- I don't want a cast-iron wok. It is too heavy for tossing. There is no way one can pick up the wok with one hand - especially with food on top.

- Carbon steel wok should be my best bet. With good care, and if I season it properly, it will not rust.

- I want a round bottom wok, not a flat bottom one, so that I can concentrate the hottest surface at the very bottom. Flat bottom is good for electric stove, but a round bottom should be more desirable if one has a gas stove.

- I want the design that has one long handle so I can toss food around. The design that has 2 ears would not do it for me (can't toss it).

Through the process of elimination, I only faced one choice:

14-inch or 16-inch?

I wanted the 14-inch, because it is lighter, easier to toss.

But I also wanted the 16-inch, where the surface is bigger. I can cook for more guests on occasion. More importantly, I can sear a big fish sometimes. This would be easier with a bigger wok.

14-inch or 16-inch?

My heart was torn. And I had to think on my feet. Or else this 90-mile drive would be a waste. Which one?

(To be continued)


W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

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14-inch or 16-inch?

My heart was torn.  And I had to think on my feet.  Or else this 90-mile drive would be a waste.  Which one?

(To be continued)

Great story so far! I'm in suspense!

Meanwhile, I do hope that you'll write a note to the folks at the Wok Shop about your bad encounter. From my reading about the people who run the place, I think they'd want to know about your experience.


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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      Much of this is produced by small time farmers, although huge Chinese and international companies have also moved in.
       
      Also, sugar is used extensively in Chinese cooking, not only as a sweetener, but more as a spice. A little added to a savoury dish can bring out otherwise hidden flavours. It also has medicinal attributes according to traditional Chinese medicine.
       
      Supermarkets have what was to me, on first sight, a huge range of sugars, some almost unrecognisable. Here is a brief introduction to some of them. Most sugar is sold loose, although corner shops and mom 'n pop stores may have pre-packed bags. These are often labelled in English as "candy", the Chinese language not differentiating between "sugar" and "candy" - always a source of confusion. Both are 糖 (táng),

      IMPORTANT NOTE: The Chinese names given here and in the images are the names most used locally. They are all Mandarin Chinese, but it is still possible that other names may be used elsewhere in China. Certainly, non-Mandarin speaking areas will be different.

      By the far the simplest way to get your sugar ration is to buy the unprocessed sugar cane. This is not usually available in supermarkets but is a street vendor speciality. In the countryside, you can buy it at the roadside. There are also people in markets etc with portable juice extractors who will sell you a cup of pure sugar cane juice.


       
      I remember being baffled then amused when, soon after I first arrived in China, someone asked me if I wanted some 甘蔗 (gān zhè). It sounded exactly like 'ganja' or cannabis. No such luck! 甘蔗 (gān zhè) is 'sugar cane'.
       
      The most common sugar in the supermarkets seems to be 冰糖 (bīng táng) which literally means 'ice 'sugar' and is what we tend to call 'rock sugar' or 'crystal sugar'. This highly refined sugar comes in various lump sizes although the price remains the same no matter if the pieces are large or small. Around ¥7/500g. That pictured below features the smaller end of the range.


       
      Related to this is what is known as 冰片糖 (bīng piàn táng) which literally means "ice slice sugar". This is usually slightly less processed (although I have seen a white version, but not recently) and is usually a pale brown to yellow colour. This may be from unprocessed cane sugar extract, but is often white sugar coloured and flavoured with added molasses. It is also sometimes called 黄片糖  (huáng piàn táng) or "yellow slice sugar". ¥6.20/500g.
       


      A less refined, much darker version is known as 红片糖 (hóng piàn táng), literally 'red slice sugar'. (Chinese seems to classify colours differently - what we know as 'black tea' is 'red tea' here. ¥7.20/500g.


       
      Of course, what we probably think of as regular sugar, granulated sugar is also available. Known as 白砂糖 (bái shā táng), literally "white sand sugar', it is the cheapest at  ¥3.88/500g.



      A brown powdered sugar is also common, but again, in Chinese, it isn't brown. It's red and simply known as 红糖 (hóng táng). ¥7.70/500g


       
      Enough sweetness and light for now. More to come tomorrow.
    • By Dejah
      [Host's note: This topic forms part of an extended discussion which grew too large for our servers to handle efficiently.  The conversation continues from here.]
       
       
      Supper: Yeem Gok Gai:

      Mock Fried Rice - grated cauliflower

      Baby Shanghai Bok Choy and ginger

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