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Flaming cooks

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 03, 2006 8:04 am    Post subject: Flaming cooks Reply with quote

In restaurant kitchens, one can often see cooks with huge flames coming off their food in pans while cooking.

What's the purpose for that? Is it just for show, or it brings a "burnt" flavour to the dish.

Also, how is it actually done?
is it done by heating the pan/wok up to extreme temperatures, then adding oil?
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Joined: 19 May 2006
Posts: 26

PostPosted: Sun Jun 04, 2006 1:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

flaming can impart a flavor however its usually done with an alcohol like bandy, wisky and so forth with a high alcohol content it burns off the alcohole quickly and leaves a slightly different tast.

It also is just damn fun to set alight!

A dish I did once required you to set it alight at the table on each persons plate, it has a wow factor and the guests loved it because I let them set alight there own plate (I have never seen so many people scared of putting a mach to food before!)

You also see it with some drinks, vodka or something is placed in a small shot glass with two coffee beans and set alight and left to burn while bringing it out too the table then snuffed out. the heat infuses the vodka (or what ever it was) with the coffee and tasted delishes
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Joined: 09 Mar 2006
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 07, 2006 11:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's a show-off move... but it's also a good way to burn off alcohol quickly, before the flavour of the ingredient starts to stale. Theres a difference between the flaming we do in a kitchen (add cognac, flame it, add butter to thicken) and a tableside flambe (which is the same action, but more for the show of it) used when serving, say, a flaming coffee.
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 09, 2006 12:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

thanks for the info,
but how is it actually done (flaming in the kitchen)?
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Michael Chu

Joined: 10 May 2005
Posts: 1654
Location: Austin, TX (USA)

PostPosted: Fri Jun 09, 2006 4:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ljtong wrote:
but how is it actually done (flaming in the kitchen)?

1. Cook/prepare food on stovetop.
2. Add appropriate amout of alcohol for recipe (amount also depends on size of pan) - turn down the heat, but keep it cooking
3. Check vertical clearance (don't want to light anything on fire)
4. (optional) turn down the lights so you can see the flame in all it's glory
5. Light match (long fireplace matches work well the first few times you do this)
6. Hold lit match over the surface of the food and it should ignite the alcohol vapors. The duration of the burn depends on the amount of alcohol.

Alternate method - not recommended.
Have burners on high, douse food with alcohol, and tilt pan while using a saute motion to release as much alcohol vapor as possible and expose the burner to the fumes. Pan should light on fire... but getting this right could be messy as you practice...
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 26, 2006 11:01 pm    Post subject: Faming in the kitchen Reply with quote

What you probably see in the restaraunt is actualy poor cooking method. Most dishes do not include alcohal. If they do the flam is almost translucent and is generaly a darker flame that does not cast lots of light.

The flame you see that lights up the kitchen is oil or clarified butter reaching its flash point. The flash point is the temperature in which oil catches on fire. This is different for every type of oil. It is generaly some where around 525+ degrees. The flash point decreases if there is impurities in the oil.

This happend because the cook has heated the pan to a very high temp
and added oil. If it does not catch fire then is will catch fire when food is added to it. This is, as they say a, bad show, bad show.

While good for customer relations this flashing of the pan imparts a carbanization of the ingrediants (dont confuse this with camalization) which creates a bitter flavor that is generaly ill advised. If the cook were cooking for a competition and was to flash the pan there would be big point reductions.

If the cook were cooking in a fine dinning restaraunt there would either be pans flying at his head or the contents dumped in the trash.

Flashing alcohal is one thing. flashing oil in a bad thing
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Joined: 17 Dec 2006
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 19, 2006 12:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can definitely attest that alcohol need not be involved because I once achieved this by accident once while feeling a little cocky with my technique. I don't recall exactly what I was cooking, but I know that no alcohol was involved. Had I seen this thread before that I would have posted immediately with all the specifics. But at the time I was just thinking "Oh hey, look at that. Just like on TV..."

Reaching the flashpoint of the oil seems the most plausible explanation, but I still harbor some skepticism. I'm typically very careful with butter because I know all too well what happens once it goes beyond the smoke point.

The only other oil I cook with is extra virgin olive oil. With a flash point of 500-600+ degrees, it doesn't seem all that likely. I say that because I've been using an IR thermomoter to see how hot I can get a pan on the stove (for searing steaks). 500 degrees or more takes some doing with a cast iron skillet.

Because some major agitation is clearly required, I'm leaning towards an explanantion that involves atomization of the oil. In such a case, the flash may not affect the food at all - as the flaming oil never returns to the food or the pan.
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 19, 2006 1:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've seen restaurunt cooks, and have used restaurunt equipment. The flame probably has to do with the following:

-high flames, restaurunt stove tops have flames that go twice as high than the ones in home ranges.
-rapid pan flips, since some chefs cook in five pans at a time, they can't use a utensil to turn food and instead flip the food in the pan.
-the high flames coupled with rapid pan flips and single platter servings that usually fill the pan pretty high means that some of the fat in the pan will splatter out and make a small flame.
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2007 1:58 am    Post subject: Flame Cooking Reply with quote

Sorry for bringing on an old thread, but I just want to share my experience. I've never cooked anything with alcohol in it, but I've had my share with the flame coming up doring cooking. In my case, it is usually due to the soy sauce I used, the heat in the pan / wok is usually hot enough to ignite the soy sauce.
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2007 1:59 pm    Post subject: Flame On Reply with quote

I have worked in kitchens for many years and when you are trying to caramelize the exterior surface of meat especially cubes of beef or pork you often get flames from the pan as you sear at high temps in oil. nothing wrong with this type of cooking just something that happens as a result of the process.the caramelized drippings make wonderful base for the best sauces and gravies.
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2007 12:23 am    Post subject: flaming Reply with quote

Here it is for you engineers. When hot oil and any item containing water(food item) combine, evaporation occurs. The water which may not look like steam, floats upward along with any residual oil and ignites. If you add alcohol from a bottle to a hot pan (which one should never do) the alcohol can ignite and burn up the stream of alcohol, ignite the contents of the bottle and explode. (molotov cocktail anyone). Flare-ups(flames rising into the air, not to be confused with a FIRE)in a pan is what happens when an experienced cook sautes food. This does not ruin the contents as a past blogger posted. A professional kitchen is a fast paced, hot, greasy environment, flare-ups do occur everyday.
Carmelization, the conversion of sugar, is necessary to bring out the flavor of your food you eat everyday. "Burnt" marks, if done correctly should enhance the flavor. On the other hand, "Burnt" flavor is burnt food.

Hope this helps
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Joined: 05 Nov 2007
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2007 6:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have seen something like that in a drug and alcohol rehab center where they would prepare some food in this manner once in a week jut to motivate us to eat the food from the other days. It was a good strategy, since we could feel that flavor you are talking about here. It tastes nice, but I guess our liver does not share the enthusiasm. [/url]
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