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Jeruba's avatar

Essence of Chinese restaurant in home wok?

Asked by Jeruba (50162points) November 22nd, 2008

No matter what we do with selection of ingredients, seasonings, sauce, and style of preparation, we can’t get what we cook in the wok at home to come out tasting like it does in the Chinese restaurant.

We even tried the theory that the magic is in the little black things (LBTs) that collect in a restaurant wok through extended heavy use (maybe without a good scrub?) and attempted to generate our own LBTs. Nothing has worked. What we make tastes good, but even when we get LBTs in it, little blackened bits of garlic or whatever, it’s not the same.

What’s the secret? Can you buy LBTs under the counter in obscurely marked little pouches if you know the code word, or are we missing some other essential flavoring agent or technique?

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8 Answers

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

Maybe it’s because you’re not Chinese? Seriously, eating hamburgers in other countries never tastes “American”. Chinese food in non-Chinese restaurants doesn’t taste chinese any more than it does at home.

cooksalot's avatar

Use a super hot wok, and a neutral oil. When marinating meats add an 1/8 of a tsp of baking soda. It will tenderize the the meat and it does alter the flavor. The first thing you will notice is the texture of the meats will be just like the restaurants. old Chinese secret- wink wink

augustlan's avatar

I totally misread this question. I thought you were talking about home WORK!

Also, I agree with cooksalot about the heat level on the wok. It may be hard to get it as hot at home as it is in a restaurant.

mea05key's avatar

HAHA. What alfreda said is true. Chinese or I would say Asian food likes to include pork fat or lard. SOme of the more common sauces include oyster sauce, sesame oil, white soy sauce, and dark soy sauce. Usually if you want to cook chinese food, its best to buy the prepared herbs then just add a little of those sauces to enhance the taste. It takes time to get it right. Oh yeah, the hot wok is very important also. Make sure the oil is hot enough so whatever meat you are frying will be crispy at the outside but soft and juicy inside. A lot of trial and error .

laureth's avatar

I never got my eggdrop soup right until I realized it’s not just eggs and broth. Once you add a little yellow food coloring and thicken it up with cornstarch, it’s just right.

ckinyc's avatar

We don’t use pork fat nor lard in wok cooking < just peanut oil. However, it is true that you need to get your wok super hot in order to cook most of the wok dishes. In fact, most Chinese people I know (in Hong Kong) can’t cook GOOD Chinese at home for the same reason. That’s why they eat out most of the time.

ckinyc's avatar

And the Chinese food as we know it here in the US is nothing like the Chinese food I know growing up in Hong Kong. My mom used to go food shopping twice a day for lunch and dinner. Freshness of eveything is the key. Besides, we don’t believe in frozen food. Well, at least when I was a kid we didn’t. Let’s say buying a chicken for example, not only the chicken will still be wearing its feather before your purchase. You will have to pick from old chicken (for soup and stock), young virgin chicken (for general dishes), black-skin chicken (for ladies only) < and I don’t even know how to cook real Chinese food. But I do know there are so many rules even before the actual cooking begin.

cooksalot's avatar

That’s like me and looking for Chinese food here on the mainland after growing up in Hawaii. The first time my husband took me out to Chinese I sat there looking at my plate going “soooo when’s the Chinese food going to be served.”

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