Stir Frying to the Sky’s Edge
The Ultimate Guide to Mastery, with Authentic Recipes and Stories
2011 James Beard Best International Cookbook Award
Awarded the IACP Culinary Trust eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters Culinary Journalist Independent Study Scholarship
“For Grace Young, poet-laureate of the wok, a way of cooking is a way of life and she takes us with her every step of the way in Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge. . . She makes “the stir fry diaspora” of Chinese to other parts of the globe as natural, human and intriguing as stir-fried jerk-chicken in Jamaica and stir-fried bagels in Beijing. Through stories mixed with practical kitchen advice and eminently doable recipes, she takes the art of stir frying to a new level, where cooking is a matter of heart that rejoices in “the taste of home.” To read Grace Young is to breathe deep into knowledge, relax into art and savor the moment of everyday
–Betty Fussell, author of Raising Steaks: The Life & Times of American Beef
“Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge is the essential cookbook for anyone who wants to stir-fry with confidence, even mastery. Grace Young has interviewed exceptional Chinese cooks from all over the world to document their stories and recipes and to reveal the many ways in which stir-frying has sustained the Chinese in cultures as far-flung as India, Trinidad, Jamaica, Cuba, Peru, France, and America. Whether you are seeking a practical and inspiring Chinese cookbook or a beautiful culinary history, look no further.”
–Paula Wolfert, author of Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking
Stir Frying to the Sky’s Edge is a comprehensive guide to the art of stir-frying that offers detailed instructions for making all the classic stir-fries—dry, moist, clear, and velvet. Like Young’s previous cookbooks this one too is crafted with spectacular photographs and elegant writing, Filled with a wealth of instruction, cultural history, personal experiences, and hard-earned advice, this the first and only Chinese cookbook to describe the optimal approaches for stir-frying meat poultry, fish, shellfish, vegetables, rice, and noodles. Young advises, for example, that when stir-frying meat, poultry, or shellfish the ingredients must be spread around the wok and seared briefly before stir-frying. She explains why a wok is preferable to a skillet for stir-frying rice and noodles and describes the distinctions among different types of woks and skillets and how they affect the stir-fry results. She categorizes vegetables by textures and instructs on their different cooking times. This expert guidance will benefit novice and experienced cooks alike.
Stir Frying to the Sky’s Edge offers over 100 recipes, with classic dishes from Guangzhou (Canton), Shanghai, Fujian, Sichuan, Hunan, Beijing, and Hong Kong, such as the revered Kung Pao Chicken, Stir-Fried Ginger Beef, and Dry Fried Sichuan Beans. Further enriching the book is Young’s fascinating history of stir frying’s place in the Chinese Diaspora. She shares innovative crossover recipes that illustrate the adaptability of the stir fry technique for fusing the traditions of numerous cultures including surprises such as Chinese Trinidadian Stir-Fried Shrimp with Rum, Chinese-Jamaican Jerk Chicken Fried Rice, and Stir-Fried Bok Choy with Pancetta from France.
Beyond the lessons and recipes Stir Frying to the Sky’s Edge so generously provides are the human stories of how this simple cooking technique enabled generations of Chinese around the world to eat well and with exquisite economy. Young’s research extended to such unexpected countries as Trinidad, Holland, Germany and Canada. She also interviewed Chinese who grew up in Peru, Jamaica, Burma, Malaysian, Singapore, Vietnam, Macau, India, Indonesia, South Africa, Libya, and the Mississippi Delta. With tales that illuminate the Chinese philosophy of cooking and examine the Chinese experience through the lens of stir frying, it is an invitation to understand stir-frying as an expression of cultural continuity.
There is an age-old Chinese expression: “One wok runs to the sky’s edge,” which means one who uses the wok becomes master of the cooking world. As the wok user becomes master of the cooking world, so does the user of Stir Frying to the Sky’s Edge become master of the stir fry.