Top 10 Foods: Past & Present – #2 Stir Fry

saute-asiatique-arachideStir frying is an umbrella term used to describe two Chinese cooking techniques for preparing food in a wok: chǎo and bào. The chǎo technique is similar to the Western technique of sautéing. First, oil is heated in a wok, then each new ingredient is added in after the other; dry ingredients, meat once you first smell the seasonings and then vegetables last. In the bào technique, the wok is heated to a dull red glow first. With the wok hot, the oil, seasonings, and meats are added in rapid succession with no pause in between. The food is continually tossed, stopping for several seconds only to add other ingredients such as various seasonings, broths, or vegetables. Which method do you use? I bet you didn’t know there was an actual name for emptying the veggies from the fridge one at a time and throwing them in the wok?

stirfry_recipe-image-legacy-id--7198_12The technique of stir frying dates back as far as the Han dynasty (206 B.C. – A.D. 220). During this time, chronic fuel shortages (not the kind at the gas station) meant that people needed to find a new way to cook food without using too much oil (in other words, develop a way to speed up the cooking process…and when the kids are hungry…wouldn’t we all like to do that?) Today, stir frying has become China’s most well known cooking technique.

Although the term “stir fry” was introduced into the English language during World War II by Buwei Yang Chao, in her book How to Cook and Eat in Chinese, history credits Cantonese immigrants who worked on the American railroads in the mid-1800s with introducing North Americans to Chinese cuisine.


Meet Kurt von Kahle, chef & appliance specialist.

“I love the flexibility while cooking on the open burner Culinarian range from Capital. Every burner pumps out 23,000 BTU/hr and can simmer when needed. The flame is distributed by three rings of ports that distribute the heat evenly from the center to outer edge of your pan. This is an ideal burner for a Wok pan… and wok cooking is exactly what I did!”

Kurt von Kahle is an appliance consultant for individual clients and manufactures. He provides consultant services helping clients determine the best choice for their personal culinary needs. He runs creative cooking classes for individuals and businesses. He’ll even teach you how to use your current equipment to its fullest potential, but most interesting to us, Kurt performs product testing and live demonstrations. Kurt can be reached at 774.264.0643 or email him for further information.

Kurt’s Recipe for a Simple Stir Fry


  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 small medium onion, peeled and sliced thin
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and slice thin 1/4″ on the bias
  • 1 cuban pepper, seeded and slice 1/2″ strips
  • 4 ounces mushrooms, wiped clean, sliced
  • Fist size bunch of broccoli, separated, cut uniform flowerettes
  • 4 ounces pea pods, rinsed
  • 4 ounces bean sprouts
  • 1 tablespoon saracha
  • 1 Tablespoon minced ginger
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth (rice wine or water will do)
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons of water
  • Salt & white pepper to taste


  1. Have all ingredients prepped and near. Heat wok on high heat, cover pan for the first minute.
  2. As the pan begins to smoke, remove it from the heat and add the oil. Carefully turn the pan to coat.
  3. Return to heat and add onions and carrots. Continue stirring or flipping so they do not stick.
  4. After a minute add the pepper and mushroom. Continue stirring and cook until vegetables begin to brown. (If you had pre-seared a protein, add it now.)
  5. Stir in the ginger and saracha. Add the remaining vegetables and liquid then cover the pan to steam the greens and sprouts.
  6. After a minute, add remaining ingredients and continue stirring for 30 seconds, until liquid begins to thicken. Season with salt & pepper.
  7. Remove from heat and enjoy!