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Old Posted Oct 9, 2019, 6:07 PM
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From LAist:

These San Gabriel Valley Restaurant Owners Think Giving Up Gas Stoves Will Make Their Food Mushy


Chef Chun Lei dishes up shrimp over a gas stove in the kitchen of the Shanghailander Palace in Arcadia. (Josie Huang/LAist)

In the kitchen of Shanghailander Palace in Arcadia, chef Chun Lei tosses raw shrimp into a wide wok bubbling noisily with oil. BAM! A sizzling thunderclap. Flames shoot out from under the wok. The shrimp turns a lovely pink.

Cooking with gas is dramatic, sweaty, and part of the rhythm in the fabled kitchens of San Gabriel Valley's Chinese restaurants. But some chefs like Lei worry that days of the gas stove could be numbered.

"When it comes to taste, this will have an impact," Lei said in Mandarin.

California is moving to eliminate its dependence on fossil fuels like natural gas as it works to become carbon-neutral by 2045. And that has those in the gas industry — and loyal users — worried about their future, and speaking out now.

A volcanic burst of heat shoots out of one of the gas stoves at Shanghailander Palace in Arcadia. (Josie Huang/KPCC)

While no law requires Californians to ditch their gas stoves and other appliances, state regulators have identified electricity as the cleaner alternative. Some city officials are taking an accelerated path to all-electric buildings; both Berkeley and San Jose recently moved to ban gas hook-ups in new construction.

In Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced a Green New Deal in April. The proposal calls for all new buildings in the city to be carbon-neutral by 2030, and for 100% of buildings — new and existing — to hit that goal by 2050. Santa Monica officials this year adopted a plan that aims to reduce carbon emissions in the city by 80% as of the year 2030.

Stoves consume far less gas than water or space heaters, but they generate more emotions tied to cooking and culture — and therefore, more debate.

Lei, who has been cooking with gas for 17 years, says preparing meals over an open flame gives dishes the perfect texture and chewiness, which Mandarin speakers describe as "Q" or "QQ." While some newer models of electric cooktops using induction heat up faster than gas and do better in product testing, Lei still worries the food could turn out mushy.

"I feel like there'd be a lot of problems if you use electric," Lei said.

Kelly Fan (l.), a restaurant owner visiting from Anchorage, dines with her granddaughter Angela Fan (r.) at Shanghailander Palace. (Josie Huang/LAist)

Charles Lu, owner of the Shanghailander Palace in Arcadia, has become an outspoken proponent of gas stoves this year. (Josie Huang/LAist)


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