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Los Angeles’ Recent Ban On Gas Stoves May Endanger Many Asian Restaurants

Photo: jpellgen/Flickr

In an effort to become carbon neutral by 2045, Los Angeles County’s City Council has just passed a motion banning most residential and commercial gas appliances. Statewide, many cities are also responding to climate change, hoping to meet the same goal. Our environment is shifting around us in unpredictable ways and these changes are impacting our way of life.

In LA’s food scene, one popular staple sure to be impacted by the new motion are Asian restaurants. Traditionally, Asian food is cooked using natural gas grills, woks and ovens. For example, in Cantonese cuisine, natural gas gives wok-cooked food their smokey flavor. That signature is called “wok hei” or “breath of the wok.” By comparison, electric woks can’t fully replicate the authentic characteristics of certain Asian dishes.

Electric grills and ovens similarly lack natural gas’ fiery panache. Natural gas is an integral part of Asian and other cultures’ cuisine, identity and heritage. Yet, climate change is a looming bully, indifferent to our cultural perspectives. It’s a challenging pill to swallow as restaurants will not only have to update their cooking appliances, but many cooking methods as well.

With the future of natural gas use uncertain in Los Angeles, let’s hope there’s some middle ground that allows restaurants to maintain traditions without negatively impacting the environment.