This year, how about a Chinese New Years resolution more stir-frying.
Its a choice that not only can lead to more flavorful eating, but also healthier food.
Grace Young, author of Stir-Frying to the Skys Edge, says this traditional Chinese technique, which involves cooking food quickly over high heat in small amounts of oil, is intrinsically healthy because it calls for small amounts of meat and fat, but plenty of vegetables.
Young says there are a few essentials for creating successful stir-fries.
First, get a good wok or large skillet. Whichever you use, it should conduct heat well and be large enough to hold all the ingredients without crowding them. She avoids nonstick surfaces and recommends choosing either a 14-inch flat-bottom carbon steel wok or a 12-inch stainless steel wok or skillet.
Next, be sure to heat the pan first, then add the oil, then add the food. Adding oil to a cold wok or frying pan and then heating it will cause foods to stick to the pan.
In terms of oil, Young says its important to choose one with a high smoke point, such as peanut, grapeseed or canola. These help quickly sear the foods and wont break down over high heat.
Lastly, Young cautions against overcrowding, which will cause meat and vegetables to steam or braise rather than caramelize and cook quickly as they should with this fast, high-heat technique.
This recipe for stir-fried crystal shrimp from Youngs book is a tasty way to celebrate Chinese New Year. Not only are shrimp an excellent low-fat source of protein, they also are considered by the Chinese to represent happiness and laughter and often are included in New Years dishes.