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hzrt8w

hzrt8w's wok and burner shopping project

177 posts in this topic

The most important thing is the wok hei. Which imparts more? Cast Iron or Carbon Steel? Upkeep isn't really important when the wok is used two, sometimes three times daily.

I wouldn't think cast iron would develop wok-hei in the same manner that the carbon steel wok would. I think about my mom's cast iron skillet that she's used for over 50 years. It's is so well-seasoned that it's virtually non-stick but it doesn't have any sort of wok-hei to it at all, or none that I can discern.

Are there any cast iron wok owners out there reading this discussion who can provide some testimony about their pan's wok-hei?


“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

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Before big wok and giant burner, we did all our stir-frying indoors. We used an ancient matte finish Le Creuset 12 inch frying pan and our fancy big All-Clad stainless saute pan. We got plenty of wok hei in our greens, it just took a little different technique (fearless preheating on HIGH and smokin' oil). I think you can get that taste with many sorts of pans and I wouldn't think a cast iron wok would be harmful. Some of the wok hei wars seem like testosterone fueled dueling and less about getting dinner on the table, if you know what I mean. We went the outdoor route mainly because we already had the burner for beer making and it's useful to cook outside for ventilation reasons.

If you check out the Chinese cooking class I did for eG years ago, you can check out the greens for yourself.

regards,

trillium

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Some of the wok hei wars seem like testosterone fueled dueling and less about getting dinner on the table, if you know what I mean.  We went the outdoor route mainly because we already had the burner for beer making and it's useful to cook outside for ventilation reasons.

If you check out the Chinese cooking class I did for eG years ago, you can check out the greens for yourself. 

regards,trillium

Couldn't have said it any better, Trillium. :laugh::laugh: Thanks for this!

Forgotten about your Chinese cooking segment. It was great to visit it again.


Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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Trillium, good post, resonates with good common sense.

Wok hei is that je ne sais quoi quality that a lot of cooks strive for, but seldom achieve consistently. I think that it is over rated, although I am appreciative when it is done. But we should not obsess about it. Besides, that quality start to dissipate as soon as the food leaves the wok and by the time it is presented especially in a restaurant, *poof* it is gone. Who the hell wants to eat next to a wok? :laugh::laugh:

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[...] Who the hell wants to eat next to a wok? :laugh:  :laugh:

That would be extremely yeet hey, super Yang. Instant sore throat. Guaranteed!


Edited by hzrt8w (log)

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

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[...] Who the hell wants to eat next to a wok? :laugh:  :laugh:

That would be extremely yeet hey, super Yang. Instant soar float. Guaranteed!

Instant soar float.

BAD Ah Leung! :angry::laugh:


Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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[...] Who the hell wants to eat next to a wok? :laugh:  :laugh:

That would be extremely yeet hey, super Yang. Instant soar float. Guaranteed!

Instant soar float.

BAD Ah Leung! :angry::laugh:

Oops! How did that happen? :laugh::laugh: My mind thought of one thing and the fingers typed another.

Instant sore throat.


Edited by hzrt8w (log)

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

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How very true. When both were alive, my Eldest Aunt and my mother would strike fear in all of the Chinatown shopkeepers. :laugh: They would verbally draw and quarter anyone who dares to be "difficult".

I could have brought my MIL along to pick the wok. Unfortunately she's the "inward" type. She would only mumble a lot to herself and then walk away...


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

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Ah Leung, I tried “1-866 436 5701” (bake), but it didn’t work. :laugh:

[...]

edited to add:  P.S.  Not that I'm not learning anything here.

Really? That number should work! :laugh:

Your statement is double-negative. [English teacher Dejah Dai Ga Jeah hat on] No, no... No, no!


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

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I give our carbon steel wok a quick stove-top seasoning after each use, and it is amazingly non-stick. I use whatever oil is handy, usually peanut oil. Seasoning only takes a few minutes, and our wok is remarkably non-stick Gratuitous yet blurry wok picture:

gallery_42956_2536_96183.jpg

We can remove the center grate on our cook top to make a built-in wok ring. This stabilizes the wok wonderfully, but the flame pattern heats the sides of the wok more than the bottom. This makes stir-frying tricky. As an experiment, tonight I cooked with the wok on top of the grate rather than removing the center of the grate. What a difference! The bottom of the wok was much hotter, and the food cooked much more quickly. Tomorrow I’ll try using the wok ring for stabilization.

Woks are great fun. I enjoy the leisurely preparation, lining up all the ingredients, then the burst of frantic activity culminating in a (usually) delicious dinner.

Ah Leung, I look forward to your future pictorials. I will be very interested to hear your views on the similarities and differences between cooking with a wok versus using a skillet.

Bruce

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Ah Leung, I tried “1-866 436 5701” (bake), but it didn’t work. :laugh:

[...]

edited to add:  P.S.  Not that I'm not learning anything here.

Really? That number should work! :laugh:

Your statement is double-negative. [English teacher Dejah Dai Ga Jeah hat on] No, no... No, no!

Good try, Ah Leung, but THAT statement is grammatically correct even tho' it has "not" in it twice. :biggrin:


Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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Does anyone dare try those numbers?

[...]

Any pictures of the cleaver?

What's wrong with those numbers? They are American Idol voting numbers. You would have voted for Chris Daughtry or Paris Bennett if you had called. :biggrin:

Okay, slight detour from our path... but hope this is useful:

gallery_19795_2734_5110.jpg

My new "bone chopper" cleaver sitting on my chopping block. I reserve it for chopping chicken (mostly) and other meats/bones only and will not use it for day to day chopping.

What's a "bone chopper"? The knife is heavier than regular cleavers. It gathers momentum from your swinging motion. With a sharp edge, the pressure is extremely high. Major benefit: it cuts chicken bones (leg bones, wings, ribs) into halves without causing broken bones - which is a major nuisance eating chicken Chinese style, as we don't use knifes at the dinner table - nothing but a pair of chopsticks (and a porcelain spoon). The cut surface should be straight and smooth. You also should have a soft (relatively) chopping block to hold the chicken while chopping. The block can absorb most of the momentum from the cleaver and not damage its sharp edge. A little bit like a shock absorber.

I love this bone chopper. I tried it out last night chopping a soya sauce chicken (also bought in San Francisco) and it worked out great! When I buy Cantonese BBQ items, if I don't eat them right away it's best to store them whole in the refrigerator (BBQ pork, chicken, duck, etc.).


Edited by hzrt8w (log)

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

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Ah Leung, I look forward to your future pictorials. I will be very interested to hear your views on the similarities and differences between cooking with a wok versus using a skillet.

I know from past experiences that I could not make certainly dishes very well. Examples are:

- Salt and Pepper Shrimp

- Stir-fry Seafood (e.g. Surf Clams) with Yellow Chive

- Sauteed Shrimp and Scallops

And the list can be long. The problem has more to do with a more intense heat source than wok versus skillet I think. And of course a wok will further enhance the concentration of extreme heat at the very tip (bottom) and moving ingredients in and out of the "hot spot". Though I have used my skillets for the past 20 years and obtained self-satisfactory results, I think I can take my skills to the next level with the installment of a wok and soon a more intense heat source.

At this point, I am leaning towards using animal fat and the oven-bake method. I hope to get an even tan on the wok from it. I plan to buy some pork fat to prepare the lard. Or does anybody think the commerically available lard in cans is sufficient to do the job?


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

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Ah Leung, I tried “1-866 436 5701” (bake), but it didn’t work. :laugh:

[...]

edited to add:  P.S.  Not that I'm not learning anything here.

Really? That number should work! :laugh:

Your statement is double-negative. [English teacher Dejah Dai Ga Jeah hat on] No, no... No, no!

Good try, Ah Leung, but THAT statement is grammatically correct even tho' it has "not" in it twice. :biggrin:

Whew! I realized that it was a double negative, but that is what I meant. Thanks, Dejah! :smile:


Karen C.

"Oh, suddenly life’s fun, suddenly there’s a reason to get up in the morning – it’s called bacon!" - Sookie St. James

Travelogue: Ten days in Tuscany

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OK, back to the original topic.

I LOVE that cleaver. And the chopping block. I'm going to have to convince my husband that I need (yet another) chopping block, but maybe I should do that once I get over my fear of chopping off a finger or two when attacking poultry, as I mentioned in a previous post. When I buy BBQ products, I have the experts do it, and by some miracle, it actually makes it home without me sneaking a piece or two (especially if it's duck). Actually, I just ask the guy to chop chicken or duck-- I'd rather do the roast pork myself but last time I forgot to ask to leave it whole. Oh well.

I digress again. I also love that colander. It looks big enough to lift an entire fish.

Ah Leung, have you decided which dish you are going to cook first to christen the new wok?


Karen C.

"Oh, suddenly life’s fun, suddenly there’s a reason to get up in the morning – it’s called bacon!" - Sookie St. James

Travelogue: Ten days in Tuscany

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I LOVE that cleaver.  And the chopping block.  I'm going to have to convince my husband that I need (yet another) chopping block,

I digress again.  I also love that colander.  It looks big enough to lift an entire fish.  Ah Leung, have you decided which dish you are going to cook first to christen the new wok?

I bought a large round chopping block made up of little pieces of bamboo bound by a metal ring. Made the mistake of setting it up on its edge, and the pieces were starting to edge out! I've got it lying flat now but haven't really used it. I just thought it was unique. Anyone else have this and is using it?

What to cook in his new wok?

From what you said above "that colander. It looks big enough to lift an entire fish., the first dish should be Squirrel Fish! :laugh:


Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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What to cook in his new wok? 

From what you said above "that colander.  It looks big enough to lift an entire fish., the first dish should be Squirrel Fish! :laugh:

I didn't want to be so presumptuous as to suggest that, but since you did…


Karen C.

"Oh, suddenly life’s fun, suddenly there’s a reason to get up in the morning – it’s called bacon!" - Sookie St. James

Travelogue: Ten days in Tuscany

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at this point, I am leaning towards using animal fat and the oven-bake method.  I hope to get an even tan on the wok from it.  I plan to buy some pork fat to prepare the lard.  Or does anybody think the commerically available lard in cans is sufficient to do the job?

I have used bacon fat in the past. I think making your own lard would be fun and maybe have more flavor. The lard you can buy in the store is refined and has almost no flavor. I think there is a wok seasoning recipe in the breath of the wok cookbook. Pork fat and chinese chives. Make sure to burn off any oil or coating used to protect the wok really well before beginning.

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Please, please PLEASE make Squirrel Fish ---- and invite ME!

That is probably my favorite fish dish of all! One time I demonstrated, in my cooking class, how the whole fish could be deep/fried in a regular wok, and completely submerged in the oil. I forgot where I learned the technique, but the fish is simply cut in half across the middle, with a slanting cut "\". When the fish is put on the platter, the two halves simply fit together, and the sauce conceals the sneaky deed.

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Please, please PLEASE make Squirrel Fish ---- and invite ME!

That is probably my favorite fish dish of all!  One time I demonstrated, in my cooking class, how the whole fish could be deep/fried in a regular wok, and completely submerged in the oil. I forgot where I learned the technique, but the fish is simply cut in half across the middle, with a slanting cut "\". When the fish is put on the platter, the two halves simply fit together, and the sauce conceals the sneaky deed.

Haha, that sounds really cool. I haven't seen it done before. Sneaky indeed!

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My new "bone chopper" cleaver sitting on my chopping block.  I reserve it for chopping chicken (mostly) and other meats/bones only and will not use it for day to day chopping.

<snippity>

I love this bone chopper.  I tried it out last night chopping a soya sauce chicken (also bought in San Francisco) and it worked out great!  When I buy Cantonese BBQ items, if I don't eat them right away it's best to store them whole in the refrigerator (BBQ pork, chicken, duck, etc.).

Hey, I thought you were only allowed to cook with white meat from chickens.... has the ban been rescinded??? Will we see Chinese-style bone-in dishes with dark meat soon?

Congrats on the new chopper!

regards,

trillium

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Please, please PLEASE make Squirrel Fish ---- and invite ME!

That is probably my favorite fish dish of all!  One time I demonstrated, in my cooking class, how the whole fish could be deep/fried in a regular wok, and completely submerged in the oil. I forgot where I learned the technique, but the fish is simply cut in half across the middle, with a slanting cut "\". When the fish is put on the platter, the two halves simply fit together, and the sauce conceals the sneaky deed.

I wouldn't be allowed to do that! Cutting a whole fish in half is a big no-no at our house, bad luck and all that. Hmmm, if Ah Leung can convince his spouse to eat dark poultry meat, could I convince mine that cutting a whole fish in half to cook is ok?

regards,

trillium

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I wouldn't be allowed to do that!  Cutting a whole fish in half is a big no-no at our house, bad luck and all that.  Hmmm, if Ah Leung can convince his spouse to eat dark poultry meat, could I convince mine that cutting a whole fish in half to cook is ok?

regards,

trillium

Is that because of the fish/wealth symbolism, a disected fish would mean that abundance would be cut in half?

Actually -- I was envisioning the beautiful Squirrel fish (松鼠魚 -song shu yu) on a platter with the head at one end and the perky tail at the other ------ but Squirrel fish really isn't the whole fish at all! If it is the one I am thinking of, then it is boned and the head is usually separated and cooked along side the intact unskinned fillets attched to the tail. That fits into a wok just fine.

It is a whole unboned fish that is -- er -- 'fixed' to fit into the frying oil that I was describing.

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Hey, I thought you were only allowed to cook with white meat from chickens.... has the ban been rescinded???  Will we see Chinese-style bone-in dishes with dark meat soon?

Wow... you remember, trillium! I feel flattered! :biggrin:

No my better half has not changed. She still eats white meat only and, let's just say "influences" me to do the same. :laugh: I still cook mostly with chicken breasts. But every now and then I just quietly throw in a couple of chopped legs or a small thigh (with bones, skin and all) in the skillet. :laugh: I need to make some of the dishes with dark meat all by myself at lunch (and destroy all evidence afterwards). So, let's keep it between us... :laugh::laugh:

I bought the bone chopper to cut whole chickens. Sometimes we buy it from Cantonese BBQ stores, and sometimes I bake my own. In those cases, she consumes all the breast meat and I have the wings and thighs/legs.


Edited by hzrt8w (log)

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

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Actually -- I was envisioning the beautiful Squirrel fish (松鼠魚  -song shu yu) on a platter with the head at one end and the perky tail at the other ------ but Squirrel fish really isn't the whole fish at all! If it is the one I am thinking of, then it is boned and the head is usually separated and cooked along side the intact unskinned fillets attched to the tail. That fits into a wok just fine. 

I don't know why they call it Squirrel fish (松鼠魚 in Chinese). They do sprinkle pine nuts on top. But does it resemble a squirrel?

This dish is really challenging. You need to criss-cross the fish without severing the pieces, deep-fry, and in the end try to resemble it back to a fish shape.


Edited by hzrt8w (log)

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

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      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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