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abcdefg

Wok and Chopsticks

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anonymoose

You need to bathe it in 地沟油 if you want the authentic street flavour.

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abcdefg

Haha, Anonymoose. Another good reason to cook at home.

 

Actually I meant to mention that the oil used for initial "curing" of the cast iron wok should be something with a high smoke point, such as peanut oil or corn oil. Olive oil breaks down too rapidly and won't work.

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somethingfunny

Do people actually use olive oil for cooking chinese food?

 

abcdefg, you didn't mention if the one you got was 不粘的 or not.  I'm guessing not from those picture.  Also, you wouldn't really be doing the seasoning with a non-stick one.

 

Interesting they said 不粘的, I'd have guessed 不贴的.

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abcdefg

Somethingfunny -- You're right. Olive oil is seldom used as a cooking oil here, but it is used more and more in making salad dressings. Five or six years ago all of it was imported, but now there seems to be a domestic source, which has brought the price down.

 

Judging from what I see on the shelves, the most popular cooking oil is still 油菜花油 or 菜籽油, rape-seed oil.

 

I also was thinking it would be 不贴的, as in 锅贴, for a nonstick pan. Surprised me to run into 不粘的。

 

abcdefg, you didn't mention if the one you got was 不粘的 or not.

 

Thanks, I went back and edited the original post to make it more clear. The one I bought this time was cast iron. The one I had last year was non-stick. Wanted to try out the difference. Seems great so far (after one use.)

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lips

A round bottom wok is always preferable over a flat bottom one for Chinese cooking.

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somethingfunny

 

 

Olive oil is seldom used as a cooking oil here, but it is used more and more in making salad dressings.

 

 

Really?  The only salad dressings I've come across are copious amounts of mayonnaise, or thousand island or some such thing.  A lot of my female coworkers would get the salad from subway because they were all 减肥'ing.  I reckon it was probably more unhealthy than the sandwiches.  Unless of course you were doing the "China Special" and getting two different sauces on your sandwich.  Honestly, whenever I went I had to specify 少放点酱 otherwise it was just unpalatable.

 

Anyway, I don't do much cooking myself but would definitely opt for the non-non-stick wok.  Funnily enough, I used to have the non-stick version of this one you've bought - I was completely taken in by the stand for the lid.

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abcdefg
A round bottom wok is always preferable over a flat bottom one for Chinese cooking.

 

Agree, Lips. As long as you don't have an electric range 电的灶台, round bottom is the way to go. By the way, as a China native, I wonder what kind of wok you use at home. Do you prefer non-stick or cast iron? 不粘的还是铸铁的?

 

Somtethingfunny -- I guess tossed salads are really not a "Chinese thing." Agree about those ghastly-heavy, mayonnaise-based dressings, that are often even sweet.

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Chris Two Times

abcdedg,

 

Another award-winning post! I love how you can take an ordinary, standard topic pertaining to daily life in China and turn it into a thread very much worth following. I also appreciate your writing style. You have definitely built up a nice repertoire of "China daily life" threads that only add to the richness and worth of these forums.

 

Your posts always make me think twice about how I go about things. In the past I would have just gone for the cheapest wok (29元!) and not have considered anything else that you have brought to the forums' attention. Cheapest is not always best (actually very rarely it is).

 

The next time I go for a wok (ba-dum-psish!) I shall be a bit more discerning in my purchase. Many thanks!

 

Warm regards,

Chris Two Times

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vellocet

Great post...but...buying a wok means you're an Old China Hand?  I had a wok in the States. 

 

I got a new nonstick wok from Ikea because it was cheap and my old one was rusty.  My gf immediately scarred the finish by using a metal...spoon-thing?  What's the vocabulary for the trapezoidal wok-stirring utensil?  I had a wooden one that I told her to use instead, but you know how fixed ideas are.

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Chris Two Times

I had a wooden one that I told her to use instead, but you know how fixed ideas are.

 

:lol:  :-?  8)

 

Vellocet brings up a good point. Even with my cheap wok, I never use metal utensils on it and only use a wooden spatula implement. I really don't want the surface scratched and so far, after a year and a half, it has gone unscathed...knock on spatula wood.

 

Chris Two Times

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li3wei1
My gf immediately scarred the finish by using a metal...spoon-thing?  What's the vocabulary for the trapezoidal wok-stirring utensil?

 

More importantly, what's the vocabulary for a gf who does this kind of thing?

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Chris Two Times

More importantly, what's the vocabulary for a gf who does this kind of thing?

 

Ah ha!

 

Warm regards,

Chris Two Times

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abcdefg
What's the vocabulary for the trapezoidal wok-stirring utensil?  I had a wooden one that I told her to use instead, but you know how fixed ideas are.

 

It's a 国产 guo1 chan3, Vellocet. I assume your girlfriend is now under house arrest or on probation, having so rudely messed up your wok!

 

Chris, #9, you are too kind.

 

Vellocet brings up a good point. Even with my cheap wok, I never use metal utensils on it and only use a wooden spatula implement.

 

I have a wooden stirring utensil and one that's made of what I think is some kind of silicon compound (in addition to a metal one.)

 

post-20301-0-38098000-1458472968_thumb.jpg

 

@iand -- That's a great website you linked. For whatever reason, the retail stores here were not pushing carbon steel woks for home use. I have a friend whose father is a retired restaurant chef, and he said that carbon steel was all they used for years and years. It was far and away the favorite of the pros. Maybe I should have looked harder to try and find one of those.

 

Shelley, if you are following this discussion, I remember you posted a picture of your wok a month or two ago. It looked like it might have been carbon steel. Wonder if it was?

 

The ability to get real hot fast and then cool down quickly is particularly prized in commercial use. They splash a little water into the wok once the food is out and just swirl it around with a bamboo whisk or brush, discarding it into a pail. Presto, it's ready to use again.

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Alex_Hart

Great post, abc! I've been thinking on this a lot for when I arrive in China in the autumn. I'm big on cooking, and have really been drawn to the idea of woks given their ability to "replace" most of the other pots in the kitchen. 

 

I have a flat-bottomed carbon steel wok here in the states. I like it a lot for frying, steaming, etc. and it's certainly lighter than a cast iron. I went for one without handles because the handle options were all wooden and I wanted a wok I could put in the oven (I know - terribly non-traditional on my part. Old habits die hard!). I've had mixed feelings about the wok because of this. Perhaps the main benefit of a wok over western skillets is how easy it is to stir fry, which is certainly harder when you need to grab a tiny handle and lift the wok (flat bottomed!) to toss the goodies. In the future, I would avoid buying the flat-bottomed sort. Sadly, this was not an option as my stove is electric.

 

On carbon steel vs cast iron, I'm mixed. I have a ~40 year old cast iron skillet (inherited from grandma when I went away to college!) that I use for everything. Once you've gotten it to that point of non-stick, I don't see how anything can beat a good cast iron skillet. It browns everything from tofu to eggs in the perfect way and I can throw it into the oven if I want. Given the heavy use mine has received over the past decades, I've rarely had anything stick. The one exception to this is dumplings and potatoes, which both stick!

 

Carbon steel is, however, lighter and easier to take care of. I season my cast iron almost monthly to insure that the non-stick surface maintains itself and I ended up buying a nifty piece of chain link to scrub it. I'm very careful to not leave water in it, to avoid soap, etc. I treat the carbon steel far more like a typical pan. It's also much lighter, making it easier to move around the kitchen or to toss things. I don't need to preheat it, unlike my cast iron. 

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vellocet

I don't agree that a wok can replace most other pots in the kitchen.  I had only a wok for a while and it sucked when I tried to cook western food.  Eventually I got a saucepan, which was better, and eventually a full set of 4 pots and pans for Christmas in the States that took up most of one of my big luggage bags one trip.  You can't really cook soup or cutlets or do anything other than stir-fry in a wok, in my experience.  I gave up on cooking Chinese food as can so easily buy it outside.  It's better than I can make it, and Chinese food is a ton of prep work.  I just cook western food at home and everyone seems to like it.  My outdoor barbecues are really where I shine, culinary-wise.  Once everyone gets over the idea that there won't be any bamboo skewers, they quite like it. 

 

The real problem with cooking western food is that the gas burners only want to go on 100% full.  It's really hard to get them to go low enough for a simmer.  They'll either lack enough gas to flow and thus go out, or go too high and turn a simmer into a boil.  It's a real pain. 

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iand

@Alex_Hart :

 

The site I linked to (which is the site for The Wok Shop in Chinatown, San Francisco, which supplies the Panda Express chain with all their woks) says that Chinese-made cast-iron woks are nearly as light as carbon steel woks, unlike the American too-heavy-to-lift cast iron woks you see at Williams-Sonoma. They also say you can develop a seasoned coating just as good on a carbon steel wok as on a cast iron one. If this is true, then most of the difference between the two seems to disappear, and it comes down to thermal properties.

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Alex_Hart

I stand corrected on two counts! I guess it depends, vellocet. I use my wok mostly for braising, stews, frying, etc. so I just imagined a wok better suited for stir frying (i.e. rounded bottom) would be a stand in for everything!

 

iand, I wonder on the quality/heat retention then? Is it worse than a western cast iron skillet for browning, etc?

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