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hzrt8w

hzrt8w's wok and burner shopping project

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I think my regular gas stove burner is just not adequate for "real" wok cooking.  I look forward to getting a high power burner next.

I am curious as to how you know your wok is hot enough to start cooking. I use the water drop test...if the water drop beads up and dances around the wok, I take it as a sign the wok is ready.

Or if I am frying something and don't have my thermometer handy, I use the wooden spoon/chop stick test and watch for bubbles.

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I finally cooked my first dish with my brand new seasoned wok!  Not a flounder that I was hoping for.  They were nowhere to be found.  Perhaps they are not in season?  I ended up getting a farm-raised bass.  Very tasty nonetheless.

My first time cooking with a wok for over 20 years!  :smile:

One question:  Has anybody used a wok to fry fish?  Mine just stuck to the wok surface.  I am not sure if that is an indication that my wok has not been seasoned "enough", or that is just "the nature of the beast" with frying a fish.

I also had made a "Salt and Pepper Shrimp" with the new wok, a wok ring and my regular gas stove.  It was tasty alright, but the shrimp shells are not as crispy as those made in the restaurant.  I think my regular gas stove burner is just not adequate for "real" wok cooking.  I look forward to getting a high power burner next.

Xiao hzrt -- have you tried using the wok without the ring --- so as to have total contact with the flames and maybe higher heat??

With the fish -- I've lowered the fish in the oil -- slowly, so the skin seals before it touches the sides. You can hold it by the tail; or by the tail and balanced on a sieved ladle. If you use a ladle, let it get nice and oily and hot in the oil first, so that the fish won't stick to it!!

Too bad that chopsticks float. They could make a bed for the fish. Could you tie a pair in an X and balance the fish on them as they are weighed down? Or am I up the wall on this one?

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I am curious as to how you know your wok is hot enough to start cooking. I use the water drop test...if the water drop beads up and dances around the wok, I take it as a sign the wok is ready.

As a matter of habit I pre-heat my wok/pan for 3-4 minutes before I start cooking. If the wok is not hot enough, it won't get any hotter from my stove burner. :sad: And for the "Salt and Pepper Shrimp", I heated up about 4 cups of frying oil for 10-15 minutes (can't remember the exact time). But the stove burner could not seem to be able to keep the oil extremely hot. You can tell the different in the crunchy-ness of the shrimp shells.

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Xiao hzrt -- have you tried using the wok without the ring --- so as to have total contact with the flames and maybe higher heat??

With the fish -- I've lowered the fish in the oil -- slowly, so the skin seals before it touches the sides. You can hold it by the tail; or by the tail and balanced on a sieved ladle. If you use a ladle, let it get nice and oily and hot in the oil first, so that the fish won't stick to it!! 

Using the wok without the ring is out of the question. The wok wobbles back and forth - very unsafe.

I did use medium/low setting on the stove burner throughout frying the fish, from start to finish. I will try to lower the fish slowly next time - maybe hard to do.

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But the stove burner could not seem to be able to keep the oil extremely hot.  You can tell the different in the crunchy-ness of the shrimp shells.

This is why I like deep frying in cast iron. Enough heat gets stored up in the pan that the oil temp doesn't drop as much when you add the food.

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I too think that domestic stoves are not powerful enough for woks. Now I have my primitive high powered burner I could never go back.

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I forgot to mention: When I used my new wok to cook for the first time, the steel spatula made some scratch marks on the nice seasoned surface. I did not anticipated that the coat of oil seasoning would be so easy to scratch off. I tried using the steel spatula as carefully as I could since. But I don't want to resolve to using plastic spatulas. I just hate those plastic things...

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More sign that my stove burner is not hot enough for wok cooking... After burning the wok for 4-5 minutes at the "high" setting, I can still use my bare hand to touch the rim of the wok and it is just luke warm. Somehow having a 16-inch carbon steel wok with a wok ring and the regular gas stove is not an ideal combination. I look forward to getting a higher power gas burner.


Edited by hzrt8w (log)

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Hzrt8w - Yes, it sounds like you could use more firepower, especially with a 16-inch wok. Would cooking in smaller batches help?

After a while, your wok’s seasoning will probably resist scratching by a metal spatula. The seasoning on our wok has become pretty impervious. Perhaps higher heat forms a stronger seasoning (we have a Blue Star cook top with 22,000-BTU burners). Perhaps the seasoning becomes bulletproof after 20 years or so. I usually do a quick stove-top seasoning after each use, so that may help, too.

Best of luck, and please keep posting your experiences -- Bruce

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Xiao hzrt -- have you tried using the wok without the ring --- so as to have total contact with the flames and maybe higher heat??

With the fish -- I've lowered the fish in the oil -- slowly, so the skin seals before it touches the sides. You can hold it by the tail; or by the tail and balanced on a sieved ladle. If you use a ladle, let it get nice and oily and hot in the oil first, so that the fish won't stick to it!! 

Using the wok without the ring is out of the question. The wok wobbles back and forth - very unsafe.

I did use medium/low setting on the stove burner throughout frying the fish, from start to finish. I will try to lower the fish slowly next time - maybe hard to do.

Do you have a couple of sieve/ladles? Get them wet and hot with oil , balance the fish on them and lower the fish into the oil.

I'm curious as to how hot your oil gets. Have you ever tested it with a regular oil thermometer? I know about the 'chopstick' test as to how hot oil is, and how hot oil is by the sizzling of a piece of scallion, but a thermometer will tell you an exact temp.

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I did a small scientific investigation into this. I think the issue is related to using the wok ring. I normally set the stove setting at "5" for maximum heat. When I cook with a pan on the regular "pot stand", the heat was adequate for most of my cooking - stir-frying, pan-frying, boiling, deep-frying, etc.. With a round-bottom wok, since I cannot place the wok directly on top of the "pot stand", I need to remove the stand and replace it with a wok ring. Because of its "collar" design with only a few round holes for ventilation on the side, when I lay the wok on top the gas from the burner does not have adequate oxygen supply to keep it burning at full capacity. And the flames kind of flares intermittently. I needed to tune down a notch to the "4" setting. Though I would get a steady fire this way, I found that the heat produced at 4 is far less than when the burner is at 5.

It seems what would improve my present situation is to forget about using the collar wok ring but go with something like a tripod wok stand design...

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It seems what would improve my present situation is to forget about using the collar wok ring but go with something like a tripod wok stand design...
Or how about drilling some more holes into your wok stand? Maybe many small to medium ones so that the structural integrity of the stand is not compromised. I think there is plenty of metal in the stand to do this.

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hzrt -- one of my wok rings is not a circular sheet of metal. Rather it is made of two firm circular 'wires' held together by vertical wires. The heat is therefore totally exposed.

I found one exactly like that in a local grocery store. Only US$1.99.

It worked very well. Now my burner can be set at max and the heat is acceptable. The wok is much hotter than before. It is adequate for regular dishes. I still would look into buying a higher power burner.

gallery_19795_2734_2623.jpg

This is the wire design wok ring.

gallery_19795_2734_10105.jpg

How the wok is holding up on the wire ring.

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I don't know if it would work on your stove, but I used to take off the ring and ignite with a match. A much better concentration of heat at the centre.

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Hzrt8w - Yes, it sounds like you could use more firepower, especially with a 16-inch wok. Would cooking in smaller batches help?

After a while, your wok’s seasoning will probably resist scratching by a metal spatula. The seasoning on our wok has become pretty impervious. Perhaps higher heat forms a stronger seasoning (we have a Blue Star cook top with 22,000-BTU burners). Perhaps the seasoning becomes bulletproof after 20 years or so. I usually do a quick stove-top seasoning after each use, so that may help, too.

Best of luck, and please keep posting your experiences -- Bruce

This is very off topic but I love to hear how you'd like you blue star. I've so far liked what I've read on this range, (I'm looking at a 30 inch) but am worried about installation and service if we ever have problems. BTW, what is the ventilation product you use with the blue star?

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After a few weeks of using a wok for cooking, I came up with the following evaluations:

- A wok is really a versatile cooking utensil. You can use it for frying, stir-frying, deep-frying, boiling, dry roasting, braising and steaming. It combines the functions of a pan, pot and a steamer. I don't use my wok to steam dishes since I already have a steamer. I try not to erode the nice seasoning through boiling tap water too often on a wok.

- My worry of having a bigger wok (16-inch versus 14-inch) was unwarrented. The extra dimension turned out to be quite useful in a few times that I was cooking a little too much vegetable. On a 12-inch skillet, the raw vegetable would have overflown. On a wok, the extra width had accommodated the added ingredients very well. In fact, there might not be such as thing as "a wok too big". Come to think of it, the cooks in restaurants in Hong Kong might be using a 36-inch wok to cook a single serving chow mein or stir-fried dish. I have seen pictures of them. Because of the design of a wok - basically a spherical surface - the ingredients always roll back to the center where the heat is prominent. Quantity large or small can be equally accommodated well on a wok.

- The long wooden handle turned out to be less useful than I thought. My original idea of using it to toss the ingredient did not turn out to be practical. I can use the handle to hold the wok. But when I am stir-frying, even for a small dish, the weight of the wok plus ingredients makes it requiring Popeye's arm muscles to toss. Not an easy task. The regular wok design with 2 "helper handles" might work just as well.

- One should religiously clean the wok immediately after each stir-frying. Simply rinse the wok with running hot water, clean the surface with the help of a bamboo brush (no detergent), and immediate set on top of the stove (at high) to burn off the water droplets. This will keep the longevity of a wok.


Edited by hzrt8w (log)

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Wow, what a great thread! I too have been using a skillet as a substitute for a while as I am quite frustrated with my electric stove and flat bottom wok. After a lot of thinking I am thinking of purchasing a 16 or 18 inch double metal ear wok from the wok shop who I have found to be the best online vendor in terms of selection and price. I am also considering buying this cool special wok-stove which with its special design and a 32000 btu output seems like would be ideal to me. Any thoughts, comments, and/or suggestions on it welcome.

I also favor the stovetop seasoning method due to the problems hzrt8w outlined, though I favor peanut oil as the last time I seasoned with lard I thought I was going to be violently ill and have since been very sensitive to the smell of burning hot pork fat. I have been some problems with flaking when seasoning my woks, an I have now reposted in the chinese cuisine forum with hopes of help.

As a last note I am all for dark meat chicken as well. As a poor student I walk away from the butcher with 4 pounds of chicken thighs every week or two only 5 dollars poorer, with a smile on my face while I pity the white meat lovers and their obscenely priced breasts.

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- One should religiously clean the wok immediately after each stir-frying.  Simply rinse the wok with running hot water, clean the surface with the help of a bamboo brush (no detergent), and immediate set on top of the stove (at high) to burn off the water droplets.  This will keep the longevity of a wok.

Ah Leung Gaw, do you lightly oil it after that? Or perhaps it's drier at your end so you don't have to worry about humidity. I don't/never wash my wok with hot water, just regular temperature tap water. I don't want to wash all the oil away....I need the light layer of oil to keep rust at bay.


Edited by Tepee (log)

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Ah Leung Gaw, do you lightly oil it after that? Or perhaps it's drier at your end so you don't have to worry about humidity.

No I haven't. The wok stays dry and rusting is not a problem. But I think I should start doing that... oil it slightly. Thank you.

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Ah Leung Gaw, do you lightly oil it after that? Or perhaps it's drier at your end so you don't have to worry about humidity.

No I haven't. The wok stays dry and rusting is not a problem. But I think I should start doing that... oil it slightly. Thank you.

Lightly or slightly is the key. Especially if you don't use it everyday. Too much oil will leave 'gum' as the moisture n the oil evaporates. A bit of oil and paper towels.

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ahhh why are all the good stuff in California? I have to order everything online when it comes to equipment for Asian food.

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