Stir Frying is a method of cooking that involves the application of dry heat to the food, which is cooked in a small quantity of hot oil, while being continuously stirred throughout the process. Stir Frying is usually practiced in Asia, and stir fried recipes for Chow Mein, Fried rice and Lettuce Wraps are highly popular across the globe.
Origin of Stir Frying
Stir Frying originated in China as two separate methods, Chao and Bao. The methods differed on the basis of the time of cooking, intensity of heat and amount of tossing involved. Stir Fried recipes started spreading from China to the entire Asian continent as stir frying imparted a delectable flavor to the dishes prepared using this method. A round bottomed pan called a Wok was traditionally used to make stir fried dishes, which is still used for preparing most of the stir fried recipes, especially in mainland China, although frying pans and various other alternatives are also common. Noodles and rice, which are the staples in the Chinese cuisine, are commonly prepared by the stir frying method.
The Process of Stir Frying
In order to prepare a stir fried dish, the first step is to cut the raw ingredients such as vegetables, mushrooms, ginger, garlic, meats and other ingredients into even sized pieces. As stir frying is a very fast process, it is necessary to keep the ingredients ready prior to cooking. Stir fried recipes require the ingredients to be cut into even sized pieces, which is very important as the fierce heat to which the food is exposed while cooking may lead to uneven cooking, in case the food is unevenly cut. Once all the ingredients are ready, the wok is placed on high heat and a small quantity of oil is poured on the wok, which is followed by dry ingredients such as garlic and ginger, which are sautéed for a few seconds. The main ingredient, whichever takes longer to cook, is then added to the hot oil, and is tossed in the oil for a few minutes till it gets partially cooked. All the remaining ingredients such as vegetables, broth, soy sauce etc. are added after stir frying the main ingredient and this mixture is again tossed in the hot wok for a short while, after which it is served immediately. A high flame burner and a wok is the equipment required for preparing stir fried dishes. Stir fried dishes are an everyday preparation in China, whereas it is mostly consumed as fast food in the rest of the world.
Popular Stir Fried Recipes
Stir Fried Noodles, Fried Rice and Chop Suey are undoubtedly the most popular stir fried recipes all across the globe. Chop Suey is hugely popular in the western cuisine and other stir fried dishes such as stir fried tofu, shrimp and chicken are also served in Chinese restaurants worldwide. Most meats are suitable for stir frying, along with vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, cabbage, mushrooms, bell peppers and tomatoes. Stir fried dishes are usually a combination of a meat, vegetables and a sauce. Stir frying is very popular in Asia, although the tastefulness and nutritive dishes prepared by stir frying are now popular in most parts of the world.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Stir Frying
Stir Frying is advantageous over other methods of cooking as it requires very little oil, which is healthier than deep frying or pan frying, and it also retains the nutrients present in the food being stir fried. Stir Frying is a very fast process and it requires very little time to prepare stir fried dishes.
However, there are also certain disadvantages to stir frying. Stir frying requires a certain amount of skill to toss the food inside the hot wok, and if not done properly, it might lead to the food getting burnt or unevenly cooked.
Techniques Similar to Stir Frying
Sautéing is a method often confused with Stir Frying, as both methods involve frying and tossing the ingredients in hot oil. Sautéing is a French technique carried out on a pan on relatively low heat, whereas stir frying is a Chinese technique, which is done on a wok placed on very high heat.
Stir Frying: Trivia
Stir Frying initially evolved as a method of saving the highly expensive and scarce fuel.