Using woks on gas and other stoves

This cross-post answered a Quora question published on October 21, 2015, with 16.1k views.

“Do professional chefs use gas or electric stoves? Why?”

Professionalism means you have mastered your skills. Cooking in different environments is where you have learned to adapt swiftly, adjusting work flow and speed. During my travels, I have worked and lived on different sides of the globe. You cooked with the utensils you had at hand at the workplace. Any necessity, if not available, remains just that: a luxury to dream about.

We have all come a long way from using an old-fashioned fireplace in our citified lifestyle. Where we embrace our gadgets. But outside the Urban jungle, in remote areas, people still use flints, wood, or coals to cook a meal. Creating dishes with amazing flavours and textures.

The main importance of cooking is focused on using good, fresh (local) ingredients cooked on old-fashioned or modern stoves. Using woks on gas or other stoves, especially flash-cooking food on high power ready to eat. Stir-frying with just boiling water, no matter whether it is household or professional kitchen equipment.

Wok burner

The standard gas stove in Europe (I live in The Netherlands) does not have sufficient range power for wok cooking. Stir-frying is healthier and is now a very popular cooking technique in many households all over the world. International kitchen range brands have offered somewhat bigger burners as a sign of more power as an option. Using woks on gas or other stoves in general for home-cooked family meals will be just fine.

Of all professional equipment, an average standalone wok burner has a capacity of 9,2 kW–15,3 kW. The Chinese wok gas range in restaurants uses either a 3-ring burner or a 24 kW burner. Up to an 18-tip jet burner or a 23-round jet nozzle burner powering up to 86–96 kW. Without a doubt, these are heavy-duty burners that cook fast and furious. A household wok burner lies between a minimum of 4 kW and 5,5 kW.

Image by fxquadro on Freepik

Stir-fry is a Chinese cooking technique that involves cooking food over high heat in a wok

What does that mean? On a standard household stove, stir-frying a vegetable dish takes 5-8 minutes. That is, if all the ingredients are prepared and portioned according to the number of mouths you feed. The same dish on a wok range would take one minute, and that depends on the skill of the cook.

If you are a beginner using these high temperatures, the chance of everything burning to cemetery dust is high. An experienced cook knows the firepower and can bake a paper-thin omelette or pancake sheets in a wok. Depending on the type of pancake skins, the concave wok can be interchanged with a cast iron flat pan.

Stirfrying in a stainless steel wok on industrial burner.
Industrial burner for wok stirfrying.

Gas supply

However, keep in mind that the gas pipe supply for households kitchens is controlled for obvious safety regulations. Buying expensive pieces of equipment without an efficient gas supply will become disillusioning. Your expectations will become a disappointment when you buy a beast without an actual power supply to meet its capacity.

Another aspect is the worldwide discussion on sustainability and environmentally friendly solutions. Choosing between gas or other stoves for a safer and more environmentally friendly upgrade with less CO2 emissions. This has become a part of the conscious decision making process in kitchen makeovers and future housebuilding projects.

Wok table height

The biggest pitfall or oversight with stir-frying technique in Western kitchens is the wok table height, especially with gas. Chinese burners standing on their worktables are built much lower. Enabling cooks to handle the “wok” while stirring and flipping the food from hip level in most kitchens throughout Asia. Watch the many Asian videos or TV documentaries focusing on the magic of the cast-iron wok on high flames.

For safety and aesthetic design reasons, the counter tops in most old or modern kitchens are built too high. The wok will rise above, basically making it difficult to really stir and flip the wok for an entertaining spin. With the risk of taking the stove apart or burning the house down. Unless you opted in your kitchen design to build in a lower table for a wok burner, You are good to go!

Induction wok hob

For the induction option, the height doesn’t matter since you cannot remove the pan without losing heat transfer. The upside is that it instantly heats up to a very high temperature, making it perfect for quickly searing ingredients. The downside here is the size of the fixed wok diameter and therefore the width and type of material. As the electromagnetism that heats an induction stovetop requires a magnetic material. Pots and pans that are induction-compatible are stainless steel, cast iron, and carbon steel. The wok size constrains family-size portions, which is perfect for daily cooking.

Wok skills

Older Chinese homes and remote areas still use firewood stoves (with or without chimneys for air flow control). With either two stoves or using interchangeably a flatter or deeper concave wok. Stir-frying involves fire power (wok hei), wok size, and type of material (cast iron or stainless steel). The use of utensils such as the shovel, ladle, spider skimmer, and sieve all together. In the country, your cooking skills, such as controlling a firewood wok stove, are a life skill. Long before it became fashionable, city dwellers would perish before anything edible reached the table.

Flipping the food up while stir-frying around in the wok allows it to mix quickly and evenly with ease for small and larger portions. Let’s not forget the entertainment value of wok skills, by controlling the fire with flames all around, combined with your wrist technique in short pulls while tumbling the wok.

By stir-frying with only a small amount of oil, the fat content is low, and the tender-crisp vegetables retain far more nutrients than when boiled.

New induction hob design

The newest design in cooking technology is known as the double induction wok hob. Combining both a flat surface for pans (fantastic at low temperatures, it works as a slow cooker) and a concave side for a wok. If I were to ever remodel or plan a new kitchen to replace my present stove, I sure would consider this type of convenience hob model.

Using woks on gas or other stoves

If you choose a gas range, please do not choose those types with a so-called wok burner in the middle. A poorly thought-out design; with the wok in the middle, you can’t use the other burners. Check the wok burner capacity if it only has 4 kW power. Restrain from using a large wok to cook up a noodle feast. It takes double the time, and it burns at the bottom in a thick crust if you are not fast enough.

I’ve been cooking on an induction stove for Oriental and Western cuisines without a problem for 2 people up to a houseful without a hitch. The high-powered wok burners are in a normal household out of reach; the induction stove delivers instant great heat and easily controls a consistent temperature for simmering dishes like stews. A gas stove gives a fire spectacle, you don’t have with induction.

Basically, you can cook any meal using woks on gas or other stoves, but you need to learn how to use your equipment as an extension of your arms and how to control the firepower. Let’s face it, if you can’t control temperature changes, making them bigger, better, or quicker is just a whimsical thought.

Update, October 23, 2015, original post link: Do professional chefs use gas or electric stoves?

An entertaining example among TV personality chefs is Jock Zonfrillo, who starred in the Chef Gone Wild documentary. Instead of travelling with a mobile kitchen, he only takes his knife roll into his backpack. Visiting other communities in remote places, where he observes and learns from indigenous people and locals about their native cuisines.

Not being squeamish to discover new flavours and different techniques, prepared in the bush or jungles, simply cooked above a firewood. Once back in his own kitchen, he’s seen using induction stoves to pay his tribute by reinterpreting and producing these influences of their culinary culture.

Chinese Top Chefs “modesty is a virtue”

For Chinese Top Chef’s “modesty is a virtue”, this is a high-minded and  a traditional behavior in Chinese societies. Celebrities Chefs who gained fame in the West through cooking tv shows are Ken Hom, Martin Yan, Kylie Kwong and Ching He Huang. And let’s not forget the productive and outstanding Chinese cookbook author; Deh Ta Hsiung just to name a few. But when readers are asked to name present Chinese Top Chefs in China, or a Chinese Top Chef nearby not much is known initially. With the aid of foodies culture, international awards and worldwide acknowledgements of International famous peers, public awareness is growing.

A wind of change is cooking up a storm of transformation with new Top Chinese Chefs gaining recognition and they are turning heads with creativity, combination of East meets West, high skills and innovation. In The Netherlands, The Hague well known Chef Han of Restaurant Hanting in BeiJing Chef Executive Chef Da Zhenxiang of famous Da Dong Restaurants two names and places on opposite sides of the globe.

“You cannot learn about Sichuan food in Beijing because it tastes different,” he says. “You have to go to Sichuan to taste the authentic food. This period was very tough because I only earned 19 kuai [a colloquial term for the yuan] each day and had to work hard to clean the kitchen, and buy presents for the sifu [master], hoping they would teach me something.”

While chefs such as Heston Blumenthal come to his restaurant to learn how to make Peking duck, Dong also spends time in other kitchens to pick up new skills and ideas. He spent a year learning French cooking techniques at the Maxim’s de Paris restaurant in Beijing.

In August, he went to Mongolia in search of wild mushrooms for new dishes. “The mushrooms naturally grow in circles in the grass, so I was inspired to also present them this way on the plate with flowers,” he says.” This article was first published in the South China Morning Post, to read more click on the linked article(s).

via Top Chinese chefs shun the spotlight | South China Morning Post.

Chinese Navy 1st visit to The Netherlands

The 18th Escort Task Group of the Chinese Navy arrived today for the first time visiting the Kingdom of the Netherlands, from 26th to 30th January, 2015. The Escort Task Group, consisting of the amphibious transport dock Chang Baishan, the missile-frigate Yun Cheng and the replenishment ship Chaohu.

Deputy Chief of Defence Bekkering welcomed Rear Admiral Zhang Chuanshu, deputy chief of staff of the South China Sea Fleet of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy and commanding officer of the 18th Chinese naval escort fleet. In his speech he expressed great importance to deepen mutual understanding and cooperation with the Dutch Navy, and to further enhance the friendship between the two countries as well as the two navies.

During the welcome ceremony the orchestra of the Royal Navy performed, attended by 400 Dutch-Chinese, Dutch- based and overseas students living in the Netherlands. The Chinese crew will visit Mayor Aboutaleb of Rotterdam, during their stay they will speak with Dutch colleagues to exchange experiences. After their 4 day stay, the ships will leave the Port of Rotterdam and proceed their trip to France, Britain and Germany.

A very special occasion which attracted a big crowd on their arrival day, since it was open for Chinese visitors and later on for the Dutch public on Wednesday 28th of February. After the Welcome speech the attendees were invited to come on board. While a rain shower relentlessly came down, nobody gave up the rare opportunity to take their turn to visit the amphibious transport dock Chang Baishan.

Photo impression overview in the carousel slider right here at the top, or click for single view here below.

Welcome Chinese Navy, The Escort Task Group at Wilhelminakade, World Port Center – Rotterdam, The Netherlands




Designers Inbetween Documentary

Yesterday I received mail message with updates of new Twitter followers and as usual I look at their bio. To learn what their background is and what passion moves them to search, share and interact with their audience or peers.

On my Twitter feed @De_Inbetween follows you: The journey of passionate designers who turn their dream into a Startup in Hong Kong  An inspirational description which made me reach out and respond by sending a reply tweet. They send me a DM asking whether I would join them in support, I complied by sharing their crowd funded Kickstarter project here on my blog.

Jonathan Ramalho and Oliver Lehtonen, two exchange students who became enthralled with HongKong entrepreunerial spirt and started this documentary. For this story they interviewed influential creatives who’ve profoundly have impacted the industry. The documentary also uncovers how the industry in Hong Kong contrasts from the West and the rest of Asia. Exploring exciting untold stories of what it is like for a Westerner to do business with factory owners in China. Business deals are built around lunch and written on napkins rather than lawyers and contracts. Read more here.

@De_Inbetween Thanks for the follow your bio very inspirational, worth to follow & spread the love.  Passion and dreams make them come true!!

After all ‘Passion’ is the keyword to all secrets and successes journeys. Their website homepage announced that they have gone live, the documentary premieres on 5th of December in Hong Kong.

Congratulations!! ♥  

MH17 tragedy how did we get here?

A bizarre week with high rising temperatures, a short heatwave colliding with temperaments and horrific event of plane crash MH17.

Nightmarish headlines;Remains of the bodies, crashed parts of the plane, still burning engines – that was the dramatic and gruesome picture that local residents saw when the Malaysian plane crashed in the sky over Donetsk Region in eastern Ukraine.” Source: RT.Com News 

After visiting our elderly ailing mother who’s health has rapidly declined after suffering severe brain stroke and tia’s (transient ischemic attack a.k.a. mini-stroke). She has a hard time accepting her disabilities which add to a depression of being confined in her own mind and body.

Leaving her nursing/convalescent home I find myself in an odd place of juxtaposition, writing two cards with wishes, one celebrating the birth of a newborn and one for condolences were words just fall short to express my feelings. Sadness for the survivors and pain for the loss of loved ones.

Life, love, alive in stark contrasts, in the background live salsa music while I am crying on the inside for lost dreams and stilted conversations. Colleagues, friends and strangers were literally blown out of the sky while flying high above Ukrainian airspace. People beneath suffering there own domestic fights, but that one action had a global impact forever changing lives of more communities than theirs alone.

Tearing up international relations, communications, organisations and families. Words just fall short to phantom a moment, fleeting time and broken relationships unable to connect or to meet again. Futures altered due to an event far away or close to home, memories is all that’s left, casting a shadow of what could have been. Frustration is mounting, a diplomatic disaster is imminent.

The Crimean crisis is no longer a civil dispute nor just a conspiracy theory, facts and evidence clearly incriminate Ukrainian, Russian and separatist rebels for international ramifications but where does that leave the victims of flight MH17 and their mourning families in this senseless tragedy.

MH17 tragedy how did we get here? The worst part is that I just can not shake the gruesome thought enforced after reading this headline; “MH17: For Bankers, Every Crisis and Tragedy is an Opportunity to Manufacture Profits” (source: www.zerohedge.com http://bit.ly/1rsGavi) leaving a creeping feeling along the spine.

For the love of life, is this it what it has come to, the price of a human life or the benefits of a civil war?! My bile is just creeping up at the back of my throat to lash out for justice to these pawns in the dark, but sanctions will hurt populations first not the antagonists.

Let’s hope that an investigation will indeed probe further to bring truth from this hell of lawlessness actions. People with names, faces and lives, Victims of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, July 19, 2014, The NewYork Times is trying to write up stories behind every passenger and inviting to share recollections.

Victims Flight MH17 – Always remembered ♥

Cathay Tulip, overnight sensation

Peng Liyuan, the wife of the President of China Xi Jinping named in the presence of King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima a special tulip in Keukenhof.

Cathay tulip christening by Peng Liyuan, China President's wife

Photo source credit: Shanghai daily

With the name giving ceremony this purple parrot tulip has the name, for eternity “Cathay Tulip”.

Cathay Tulip

Photo source credit: http://www.cntvna.com/

Peng Liyuan’s “Cathay” tulip debuts in Beijing, click here to watch the video. Ever since China’s First Lady had baptised the new tulip “Cathay”, the new variety has become an overnight sensation. China has a high demand for importing the new cultivated Cathay Tulip and the Netherlands sees a rise in a new export product.

Keukenhof press release:

The new Cathay tulip is a strong and colourful flower, that can be grown in a sustainable way. Mr Bart Siemerink, director of Keukenhof, already expresses the wish that this is a symbol for the strong, flourishing, and sustainable bond that China and the Netherlands have.

 If you happen to travel by train along the route Leiden – Amsterdam, you actually have a track view on the bulb fields “bollenstreek” of Lisse, where Keukenhof is located.

Monday Mail


Finally behind my desk and working my way through electronic Monday mail, social media platforms updates and other reads. In general I like my first mails, articles to be positive affirmation with follow through’s; focused to create where I can give my best and support collaborative networking.

The opposite occurred over the weekend where I supposed to read for relaxation and entertainment, instead totally got annoyed over stupid newspaper front page news. For the umpteenth time the story information was taken out of context and bashed by even more ignorant comments on social media platform.

Normally I wouldn’t give it a second thought, but reading through the comments it suddenly hit me how terrible ignorant people are willingly “not caring”; self-serving egoistical based on a form of entitlement of knowledge as long as it serves and fits their purposes. I don’t want to recall or spill another word, however I did realize in hindsight that it is a slow build-up of annoyance as micro-aggression towards unethical written journalism and Sales Marketing campaigns.

The best selling ad campaigns are all about creating and selling illusions, whether its based on truth, half-truth or fiction all dangerously based on emotions and greed. To entice and seduce consumers buying products they actually do not need or dressing up trying to alter personalities in make believe. Marketing teams, developers and their clients being large enterprises and companies are ruthless when it comes to corrupting the good in worship for money and fame. Manipulations of facts, numbers, colors, emotions, buying of authoritative voices, photo-shopping people and objects everything goes, not a moments thought to preserve innocence. Even if their would be a slight inclination to preserve innocence, no heroes around to protect. A fleeting moment because mankind will try to earn big bucks on that too, corrupt to the core.

The Internet carries an extensive range of information resources and services and when powerful words and/or sources should be interred suddenly internet is holy, but it is a big trap of truth, non-truths and lies. Information carried by renowned authors and scammers galore, as in life you have to sieve and weed through the information to get through the right answer(s), often not correct but with leads to move your search further. Whether your searching on-line or in daily life, we need to have an inquisitive mind and a healthy dose of common sense.

Week in Hashtags, reveries of an inquisitive mind, a poem by Shakespeare for this #mondaymail

“How happy some o’er other some can be!….
Love looks not with the eyes but with the mind.
And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.
Nor hath Love’s mind of any judgment taste—

Wings and no eyes figure unheedy haste.
And therefore is Love said to be a child,
Because in choice he is so oft beguiled.
As waggish boys in game themselves forswear,
So the boy Love is perjured everywhere.”