I don't have a background in metallurgy necessarily, but I do know a little bit about metals from my business, and I have taken a healthy number of physics classes. No disrespect intended, because you both are extremely knowledgeable about cooking (certainly a lot more knowledgeable than I), but I am fairly certain that you are off the mark here. Ultimately, I suppose it's true that the final temp a pan reaches depends on the metal - an aluminum pan will continue rising in temperature until it reaches its melting point around 1200 degrees F, at which point it will continue absorbing heat energy (latent heat) from your flame without a corresponding rise in temp until it actually begins to melt. Iron won't reach this temperature for another 1,000 degrees or so. But practically speaking, you never come close to either temperature on your stove, so it's irrelevant. And temperature is really only part of the issue - the real issue when cooking is heat. Temperature, to an extent, is a function of heat, but it's the heat that's the core of the issue. As you've alluded, for things like deep frying, chinese food, and anything else where you want a nice strong caramelization on the outside without overdoing it, you need to get as much heat into the food as possible as quickly as possible. And having the initial temp be too high before you put the food in burns the outside before the inside cooks adequately. So as little temp rebound as possible is good, as is pouring all that heat in quickly. In other words, even if you let your wok sit there naked on the burner for 15 minutes on a 12K BTU stove and then tried cooking chinese food, you'd just end up with a smoky, burned mess, and not the crisp but caramelized veggies you were looking for.