The Chi of Stir-Frying

Bowl of stir-fried vegetables
Source: SweetOnVeg, Flickr

Perhaps one of the best ways to celebrate the culture of another country is through its food.   If you are looking for a book that will help give you a window into Chinese culture, the work of Grace Young might be a fun place to start.  I understand now why she has been called the Poet Laureate of the Wok.  Her books are a combination of  stories, illustrations, education and, of course, recipes.  Her collaboration with Alan Richardson called  The Breath of A Wok is a great example of her work.

Stir-frying to the Sky's Edge is another masterpiece of cookery that includes a hundred classic stir-fry recipes, full-color photographs and some of the techniques you'll need to bring these recipes to fruition.   The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen is a wonderful collection of 150 recipes pulled together from her kitchen and her memories.

If you’re looking for a cookbook with familiar sounding names and tastes, Helen's Asian Kitchen by Helen Chen might be for you.  Helen is the daughter of Chinese restaurant legend Joyce Chen, who is credited with popularizing Northern Chinese food in America.

Are you brave enough to just jump right into the wok?  Give 300 Best Stir-fry Recipes by Nancie McDermott and The Everything Stir-fry Cookbook by Rhonda Lauret Parkinson a try.  Both offer the novice simple enough recipes to help build their stir-fry confidence.

When I decided  to learn how to stir-fry, I had no idea how many wonderful things I would learn at the hands of these talented authors.  Even though I am far from mastering the wok, I feel I have made some progress.  If you too decide that you’d like to learn how to stir-fry, here are three landmarks to look for in your progress:

  1. You look forward to making it again.
  2. You would actually serve it to someone you like.
  3. You’re  spending less and less time crawling around on the floor picking up food that went flying out of the wok.

If you can answer yes to these questions, you are well on your way.