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Jan 31, 2013 09:04 AM

Should I adjust medium-high heat down when sauteing on my stovetop's power burner?

Here's something I've always wondered but couldn't confirm since I don't have an infrared scanner. Does medium-high heat (or any other setting) on a 10" frypan on one of the stove's "regular" sized gas burners equal about the same amount of heat on a 12" frypan on the stove's largest or "power" burner? Have you found you had to adjust the heat down to compensate at all? Also, apart from the oil smoking, are there any other signs I should be looking out for that tell me whether the heat is too high while sauteing?

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    1. re: rasputina

      I'll have to check. It's my MIL's stove but it looks like your average mid-level stove setup. Nothing really cranking like a GE Cafe Tri Ring Burner. Just a single ring high output one. Thing is, I know that burner puts out more heat at med-high than the regular sized one. What I don't know is if that equals out with the fact that it's used to heat larger pans with more surface area.

    2. Probably... Medium High heat is medium high heat... not what it says on the knob. That power burners medium high heat is going to be hotter than the rest of the burners.

      Unfortunately, it is hard to determine what medium high heat is. Experience on your stovetop will teach you after burning some things and under cooking a few things. Most experienced cooks can tell form the sound but I am not capable of communicating that.

      1. If your onions start to burn, especially early on, it's too high.

        The position of the knob is a starting point, but the real test in the cooking itself. Appearance is one thing, for example the bubbles produced by juices coming into contact with the hot fat/pan. But, as another poster wrote, sound is even more important. I can have my back to the stove, washing a pan, and still judge whether I need to adjust the heat or not. Unfortunately that is not something we can convey in words very well.

        Even TV shows do a poor job of this. More often than not I wonder whether their pan is hot enough, judging from how little goes on when they put food in - again by sight and sound.

        If I do burn things, it is usually because I'm in the other room writing a post on Chow.

        1. If the outside burns before the inside is done, it is too hot.

          I try to use the smallest amount of energy that gets the job done to my tastes. Global warming and all.