Stir frying

From Academic Kids

Stir frying is a common Chinese cooking technique used because of its fast cooking speed. Cantonese restaurant patrons judge the chefs by their "wok qi" (their ability to bring out the qi of the wok, which shows in the food as the look, smell, and taste).

A traditionally round-bottom pan called a wok is heated to a very high temperature. A small amount of cooking oil is then poured down the side of the wok (a traditional expression in China regarding this is "hot wok, cold oil"), followed by seasonings, meats, vegetables, rice and/or noodles. In some dishes, different components may be stir fried separately before being combined in the final dish (if, for example, the chef desires the taste of the stir fried vegetables and meats to remain distinct).

The food is stirred and tossed very quickly using wooden or metal cooking utensils. Some chefs will lift the wok to the side to let the flame light the oil or add a dash of wine spirit to give the food extra flavor. Using this method, many dishes can be cooked extremely quickly (within a minute).

Some dishes that require more time are cooked by adding a few dashes of water after the stirring. Then the wok is covered with a lid. As soon as steam starts to come out from under the lid, the dish is ready. In this case, the food is stir fried on high heat for flavor and then steamed to ensure that it is fully cooked.

Cultural Differences

Most home kitchens in the West are poorly equipped to stir fry properly. The average kitchen is not designed to handle the large amount of oil vapour produced as a byproduct of proper stir frying. Those stir frying at home cannot achieve the same flavor as in restaurants because the wok is neither hot enough nor big enough to allow fast tossing. By contrast, most Chinese home kitchens are designed with stir frying in mind. The kitchen itself is either in a separate building or in a room with access to the outside. The stove is usually separated from the rest of the kitchen and near a large window to allow for ventilation. The kitchen itself usually is lined with tile or brick for easy cleaning.

Many western cooks on TV demonstrate stir frying on low heat with a small wok and a stirring motion comparable to tossing a salad. This is a western adaptation of stir frying, but it is dissimilar to the traditional Chinese method.

ja:炒める zh:炒Template:Cookbookpar

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