In praise of the Chinese gas stove
We are in a hiatus – there is no question. It is off-season for Rugby League (at least down under), there is no cricket until Thursday, Christmas is coming (and that is NOT a good thing – high murder rates, high suicide rates, family arguments… hmmm), and I haven’t seen a story on Julian Assange for two whole days. We need a distraction. Something to fill a space in our lives.
Look, it’s a long time since we’ve had a decent nag on ChinesePod – I don’t know what the problem is. Too many serious students? The miscreants have been put out to pasture? The Canadians are getting a little too much air time? Whatever, there have been too many grammar discussions. Let’s face it, it’s a little bit boring.
So I thought we should cast a glance at the gas stove – and I’ll start with an assertion: China cannot make a bad one. Their stoves are WAY cool. In Australia (and Europe, can’t talk about America I’ll get into trouble) we have little pissant things we laughably call stoves that you cannot use a wok on. They are a feature of every ‘European’ kitchen. They are tinny, they have a feeble flame, they are nearly flush with the bench. They look best in a bed sit where they are not going to be used anyway, ever. I won’t even mention those electric stoves – if I had one of those I would genuinely starve.
Here in China even the cheapest stove has a couple of serious gas burners that look like the back end of the space shuttle (with cast iron fins the size of spinnakers). These stoves are designed FOR woks, and feeding about twenty people every night. In Australia we have the Wok Burner as an optioinal extra – if you don’t choose this option you don’t eat.
I do love a good stove – what about you?
What’s your experience with Chinese stoves?
bababardwanDecember 13, 2010, 06:52 AM
No offense mate, but personally I would have thought a discussion about stoves a tad on the boring side. But true to form, you grabbed my attention from the start here, turning it into an interesting post and you really fired my imagination when after your colourful description of the Australian et al variety, you likened the Chinese variety to the back end of the space shuttle [wow I want one of those]. Suddenly I had visions of busy Chinese Restaurants kichens with big flames under large woks and bringing that atmosphere to one's own kitchen. Yeah, in the end I have to conclude that it's just because I've got one of those Australian one's that I wasn't too excited initially. Yeah, I'd love a good stove like you describe, especially one that could do a proper job handling a wok.
Whew - you brought me back to earth. :)
And of course my particular reason for this interest is I just bought a new one and had it installed today. It has been fun - I even got detailed instructions for its maintenance (in the country where nothing much gets maintained!) I found this intriguing. And I have vowed to maintain it faithfully - it needs a WEEKLY clean of the gas rings and injectors because (I think this is right) the gas is so dirty!? Well, he was saying that the holes get clogged (and he pointed to the dirt stuck in our flywire.)
Yes, I suppose it is about as boring as it gets, but... I have often plotted how to get a Chinese stove back to Sydney. (In my wilder days I wanted to take back a squat toilet.) Not only much cheaper, they are so good. The 服务员 (as he insisted on being called) told me he sold one to a 外国人 recently who wanted to take it back to Canada. So I'm not the only one!
hehe, you may have come back to earth, but I've just taken off....still up in that space shuttle feeling manly cos of the big flames ..nah, in the end it wasn't boring at all...you captured my imagination.
bodaweiDecember 13, 2010, 07:12 AM
炉灶 lúzào (kitchen stove)
More commonly 煤气灶 méiqìzào (stove); 灶台 zàotái (stove)
台式 tàishì (bench-top model/mobile) – the most common Chinese stove
台式单灶 tàishìdānzào (one burner stove)
台式双灶 tàishìshuāngzào (two burner stove)
嵌入式 qiànrùshì (a stove that is mounted flush with or just above the bench top/fixed)
煤气站 méiqìzhàn (gas shop)/ 煤气店 méiqìdiàn (gas shop)
配件 pèijiàn (spare parts)
送到家里安装 sòngdào jiālǐ ānzhuāng (deliver to your house and install)
旧的 jiùde (old one; secondhand)
回收 huíshōu (recycle)
华帝 HuaDi – a famous brand in China
萬事达 – WanShiDa – another well-known Chinese brand
型号 xínghào (model)
分火器 fēnhuǒqì (the gas ring)
炉架 lújiā (fins – for supporting the saucepan over the flame)
煤气管 méiqìguǎn (gas pipe)
煤气工人 méiqìgongren (gas repair person)
面板 miànbǎn (top surface of the stove; apron)
漏气 lòuqì (leaking gas)
关小 guānxiǎo (turn the flame low)
开大 kāidà (turn the flame high)
cinnamonfernDecember 13, 2010, 07:27 AM
I do enjoy cooking on my gas stove. Especially when I spill some oily stir-fry over the side and flames shoot up to the ceiling, almost burning my eyebrows off. You just don't get the same effect on the electric ranges back in the U.S. But as much as I enjoy the gas range, it cannot replace my oven. True, the oven does not look like a rocket, it is not enjoyable to clean, and I don't get to enjoy the fantastic pyrotechnics, but chocolate chip pancakes, while very nice and filling, are still not an adequate substitution for chocolate chip cookies..and I have yet to find a suitable replacement for apple pie.
I got special instruction on taking care NOT to spill anything over the side because this can clog the burners. You need to pull them apart and clean them out or your stove won't work efficiently. :)
We have a little oven as well; as you are no doubt aware, these don't come together in China. But as you say, not much of a display. For pyrotechnics check out the stoves used at restaurants, particularly impressive if being used in a dark room.. The roar of gas and the shooting flames. :)
Hmm...I hope I'm not messing up the range - it'd be a bummer to have to pay for that when I move out. Ha ha - I'm picturing myself taking apart the range to clean it and then being unable to put it back together again...or starting a huge gas leak in the process. But I find the idea of me not spilling anything over the side to be almost laughable because I am a very messy cook. I always end up overfilling my wok and then vegetables go shooting all over the kitchen. I should call it "stir-fry-and-fly". Maybe I just need one of those 20-person woks. :D
pretzellogicDecember 13, 2010, 09:11 AM
At the risk of sounding like a trouble-making American, I agree with you on the powerful flames, but disagree on the stove's characteristics. To me, there are not enough eyes. A four burner stove is the absolute minimum number of eyes. A five burner stove would be nice that included a grill, and over-the-top nice would be a 6 burner stove. Handy for cooking at thanksgiving/christmas. If the Chinese only went to 4 burner stoves, they could get rid of the rice cooker and save counter space!
Get rid of the rice cooker?!?! I will never give up my rice cooker. Come to think of it, that's the only appliance I bought after moving here. I guess that means that practically speaking I like it more than a toaster oven. Not sure if that's true or not... :D
I do agree it would be nice to have more burners...although the extra burners won't be much use to make Thanksgiving dinner if you don't have an oven. No turkey? No pie? No rolls? No casseroles? :)
Sadly, a rice cooker seems to be a requirement in China. And the mei2ji4hua4ren2 friends back in the US have been raised on the rice cooker. Not me. Interesting, my wife who spent about 8 years in China before I met her was also brainwashed into the rice cooker way of life. When she returned to the US for school, and after we got married, she tried to convert me to the rice cooker. The power and usefulness of the 4-burner stove overwhelmed her, and we didn't use a rice cooker until we returned to China..... ;-)
Do agree with you on the lack of an oven. In Beijing at least, the moneyed elites have apartments/villas with built-in ovens big enough to host a 10 pound turkey or a few sweet-potato pies!