NPR selects “Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge” Top Ten Cookbooks of 2010
NPR T. Susan Chang
I know you thought you already knew how to stir-fry — it’s just ginger, garlic, soy sauce and a wok, right? Wrong! … if you heed Grace Young, whose previous cookbook taught a lesson to those of us who thought a wok was just another pan. Young’s thorough yet streamlined book zooms in on the minutiae of the correct stir-fry — from how to chop your protein to what to listen and look for in the pan. But her book is broad as well as deep, offering panoramic views of the universe of stir-fry from Singapore to Astoria.
Chicago Tribune selects “Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge” as one of the Top 10 Cookbooks to keep!
Washington Post Joe Yonan
Cooking for One: A Stir-Fry Lesson from the Wok Queen
What’s easier than a stir-fry? It’s tempting to say “nothing,” because stir-frying is so versatile and beloved that we all like to think we can do it, even if what we really are doing is tossing around ingredients in a not-hot-enough skillet, then wondering why the results aren’t as good as those from our favorite Chinese restaurant. I used to be one of you. Then, thanks in no small part to cookbook author Grace Young, I bought a carbon-steel wok, seasoned it properly and, over the past couple of years, have become more than merely comfortable with it. I use it several nights a week, so much so that it pretty much lives on my stove top. I fry eggs and bacon in it. I pan-fry chicken breasts in it. I’ve deep-fried tofu in it.
New York Times Martha Rose Shulman
When it comes to stir-frying, I have a guru, the cookbook author Grace Young. Her new cookbook, “Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge,” is the ultimate guide, whether you’re a beginner or a chef. I was so inspired by the book that I went out and bought a new 14-inch flat-bottomed carbon steel wok with a long wooden handle that doesn’t get hot when I cook over a high flame.
Stir-frying may have been pedestrianized by generations of vegetarian college students, but this beautiful, comprehensive cookbook restores it to its rightful place among the most elegant cookery techniques. The virtues of stir-frying, Young writes, are many: it makes bounty out of small amounts of meat and oil; it emphasizes healthful vegetables; and most importantly, it creates ‘alchemic’ flavor out of raw ingredients. Young (The Breath of a Wok), has a scholarly yet impassioned approach, and she fuses personal anecdotes, meticulously researched history, and stir-fry-related arcana to illuminate her subject. She covers types of woks and utensils and a recommended stir-fry pantry, including a photograph of sauces with tricky-to-decipher packaging… For the serious home cook, this informative, lyrical tome is an inspiration.
Fine Cooking Magazine Nadia Arumugam
Grace Young’s new book is an epic, must-cook-from guide to an ancient Chinese way of cooking. With a gentle, authoritative voice, Young leads readers through the basics of choosing a wok, seasoning it, and the many subtleties of cooking with it. Through recipes from Chinese cooks living across the globe, she reveals how one simple vessel and age-old techniques have sustained a people on the move.
Chicago Tribune Bill Daley
A Stirring Spin Around the World
Masterful Book Adds International Influences to Classic Chinese Method
What it is: Stir-frying is so seemingly commonplace these days that many of us surely botch it up out of sheer mindlessness. Stir-fry? Been there, done that.
Oh, no, you really haven’t. Grace Young’s masterful book, “Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge” (Simon & Schuster, $35), reveals stir-frying is “a cooking method of great subtlety and sophistication.” She gives you all the advice and instruction you need to stir-fry at home, from choosing the right wok to gauging the proper heat to buying the right ingredients at the market. More important, she provides a sense of spirit, of excitement, that makes stir-frying delicious fun.
USA Today, Kim O’Donnel
A Wok is a Chef”s Best Friend for Simple, Efficient Cooking
Today, after penning two more books, Young is considered an authority on wok cookery, earning nicknames including “The Poet Laureate of the Wok. When we first met, I didn’t own a wok, but through Young’s tutelage, the wok has gone from stranger to BFF, turning out omelets, curries, fried chicken, steamed mussels and, yes, Asian-style stir-fry.
Chow.com Christine Gallary
Grace Young is a Wok Evangelist
Grace Young wants you to cook with a wok… as Young explains, woks are so versatile: They can steam, smoke, poach, boil, deep-fry, pan-fry, and stir-fry food. A wok’s wide, carbon-steel bowl can cook food in minutes, requires less oil than most pans, and is a safer alternative to nonstick Teflon pans. Young’s latest cookbook, Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge, touts the benefits of wok cooking, with comprehensive details on purchasing, seasoning, and using a wok. Nuggets of good advice pop up throughout the book, such as to never crowd your wok and to dry vegetables properly if you want them to stir-fry instead of steam. Substitutes are given for some of the harder-to-find Asian ingredients (there is also is an excellent pantry section in the beginning with descriptions and pictures). And Young gives useful timing tips and descriptions throughout the cooking process to guide a wok novice….Young has me convinced: It’s time to rock the wok.
Boston Globe T. Susan Chang
Anyone who has cooked out of Grace Young’s earlier book “The Breath of a Wok’’ is already familiar with her style: in-depth, thorough, meticulous, impassioned. Young doesn’t browbeat you with her respect for authenticity, but it’s contagious. “Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge’’ is similar. She unveils techniques, regional variations, different ways of using your knife. In short, you now have worlds of stir-fries, where perhaps none appeared to exist. You might never again throw a bunch of random stuff in a wok and stir it around with some soy sauce.
Montreal Gazette Sarah Musgrave
It’s hard to imagine someone more committed to the ancient art of stir-frying than Grace Young. The New York City-based cookbook author and teacher travels with her battered wok in her luggage wherever she goes – and yes, it always raises eyebrows when she goes through airport security…“The Chinese have used the wok for more than 2,000 years,” she says. “But the knowledge is not being handed down from generation to generation anymore.” Young’s most recent cookbook, Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge (Simon & Schuster, 2010), is a detailed guide to the ins and outs of this cooking form. It’s full of tips and techniques, from the right utensils to visual guides to Asian vegetables to prepping ingredients, like peeling ginger, cutting garlic or “velveting” chicken.
Toronto Star Jennifer Bain
With Grace Young as my teacher, I have committed to studying the art of stir-frying. Young, who lives in New York, is the author of Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge: The Ultimate Guide to Mastery, With Authentic Recipes and Stories. She grew up in San Francisco with a father so obsessed with wok hay that he insisted on sitting at the table closest to the kitchen door in Chinese restaurants so he could get his stir-fries as fast as possible. A liquor salesman who knew all the owners, he would stride into kitchens and tell the chefs to give his family extra wok hay. Young absorbed the obsession and took it in a different direction. She is precise and persnickety about her recipes.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Marlene Parrish
Grace Young has been called The Wok Queen, The Poet Laureate of the Wok and a Wok Evangelist. She’s been wokking since she was a teen, growing up in a traditional Chinese home in San Francisco where her parents cooked the same Cantonese dishes they had eaten in their youth in China. Married and now living in New York, Ms. Young is the go-to professional and authority on all things Chinese. Her latest cookbook, “Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge” (Simon and Schuster, 2010, $35), is a treatise on the Chinese tradition, culinary history and technique of stir-frying in a wok.
Star Tribune Lee Svitak Dean
No surprise to Grace Young, who has been a one-woman evangelist for the ancient culinary technique. She is a cook with a mission: to take stir-frying to the masses. Her new book, “Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge” (Simon & Schuster, 313 pages, $35), which popped up on “best books of the year” lists across the nation, breaks the technique into easy lessons that make dinner seem fast… Her mission to spread the stir-fry religion has worldwide wings. The wok-toting cook has traveled internationally — from China and Bali to the Philippines, Jamaica and all over the U.S. — to gather stories of the Chinese diaspora and to compare notes and techniques on stir-frying from the far-flung emigrants and their families. She travels with her well-used wok in a carry-on, to the consternation of TSA agents in airports.
The Houston Chronicle Greg Morago
If you’re ready to master the wok, it’s probably a good idea to pick up Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge($35, Simon and Schuster). In her new book, Young demystifies one of the world’s oldest cooking techniques and celebrates the joys of a tradition that has found its way to nearly every corner of the world. If stir-frying has lost its compass in recent years (thanks to pedestrian Chinese take-away), Young redirects and finds stir-fry redemption and revelation.
The San Francisco Chronicle, Natalie Knight
What’s better than a good recipe? A good recipe with a great story behind it. Award-winning author Grace Young, a a former San Franciscan living in New York, has released her third cookbook, “Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge,” with more than 100 simple, stir-fry recipes, plus tales to go with them…. Whether you are a newbie stir-fryer or more advanced, the book offers plenty to delve into.
The Oregonian Katherine Miller
If you’ve ever spent much time with the award-winning “The Breath of a Wok,” you know that Grace Young’s cookbooks feel as personal as they are practical. Her latest is no exception. And if you’re expecting food à la Panda Express, this book will be a revelation. Stir-fries, it turns out, can come from almost every continent, and a good one is no slapdash affair. Young reveals the many small techniques that add up to excellence.
Austin-American Statesman, Renee Studebaker
A Stir-Crazy Summer
If you’re reading this and thinking, “Yeah, sure, I tried a wok years ago, but it never worked right,” you are not alone. I bet that’s what a lot of fans of wok master and cookbook author Grace Young were saying before they found her and started trying her wok tips and stir-fry techniques. Before I read her new James Beard Award-winning cookbook “Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge” (Simon & Schuster, $25) and attended her wok class and book signing earlier this month at Central Market’s Cooking School, a lot of my so-called stir-fries turned out more like stir-stews. But now, almost a month later, my wok is properly seasoned and I’m turning out lightly browned, crisp-tender (not soggy) stir fries.
ZesterDaily, Tim Fischer
Grace Young, a three-time International Assn. of Culinary Professionals award winner and author of the bestselling books “The Breath of a Wok” and “The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen,” will put any fears you may have about stir-frying aside with her book “Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge,” published by Simon & Schuster. Young, in her authoritative but friendly voice sends readers on a culinary journey around the world telling the stories of Chinese immigrants in new surroundings who learned to adapt their style of cooking to suit the needs and taste of their new cultures. With more than 100 flavorful recipes and Steven Mark Needham’s beautiful color photographs throughout, Young begins by explaining the differences in the many types of woks available, teaching us how to choose the best equipment that will produce the best result… This is a beautifully written and user-friendly book for the beginner as well as the experienced cook.This is one not to be missed.
The Christian Science Monitor Rebekah Denn
Reading through Grace Young’s latest book, “Stir-Frying To The Sky’s Edge,” it’s clear how thoroughly she has mastered the techniques and stories behind her subject. It’s a guidebook as much as a cookbook, where Young set out to show an American audience that stir-frying was more than cooking little bits of food in oil. She saw it as a way to bring food to life – an illustration of “cultural perseverance and healthy, flavorful cooking, of universality and subtle distinction, of the Chinese diaspora and local character.”
Weight Watchers Irene Sax
Of course you can stir-fry. Chop chop, toss toss and dinner is ready. And it never tastes bad, even if now and then it’s what cookbook writer Grace Young calls “a soggy braise.” Young, who grew up eating traditional Cantonese food, now lives in New York and knows firsthand how hard it is to make really good stir-fries on American home stoves. Her new book, Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge, contains everything you’ll ever need to know about this thrifty, speedy, healthful and flavorful cooking method ” including how to do it on a residential stove. But it’s also about the persistence of a cooking technique. As Young gathered stir-fry recipes from Chinese cooks around the world, she was amazed at how innovative they were.
Viet World Kitchen Andrea Nguyen
A few weeks ago, I received Grace’s new book, Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge. It was obvious that her journey was multipurpose. Consider the lyrical title that inspires you to energetically stir-fry to the heavens. But don’t be fooled by the poetic title. Stir-Frying to The Sky’s Edge is full of practical and social purpose. Grace wants to inform. She wants you to cook. Within the 300 plus pages you’ll find: Handy tips and helpful photographs: For the first time, I understood that my beat-up looking Joyce Chen wok had developed the proper patina. Page 23 offers images of a wok in different stages ““ as if to say, “You are not alone. Persist and it will pay off!” I struggle with rice and noodles sticking to my wok but Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge has pointers on how to wok those ingredients the smart way.
What a visual delight is “Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge” Grace Young’s newest cookbook (Simon & Schuster, $35) which is a guide to mastering wok cooking with recipes and stories. Fill up that stir fry pantry she describes and you are on your way. Recipes offer cooking with meat and vegetarian proteins for all manner of diets. The photography by Steven Mark Needham makes you want to dive into each page. The vegetables pop with color and the meats sizzle on each plate. Young’s descriptions of the food and their stories only serve to whet the appetite further. Those interested in learning dry-frying techniques will learn it here. Tip: this technique burns the seasonings into a skillet so it should only be done in a wok. That’s a small price to pay for a dish that is fiery, peppery and a little salty, my favorite combination.”
In Mamas Kitchen Diana Serbe
Adopted outside China for speed and efficiency, “stir fry is quick indeed, but it is also one of the most nuanced methods of cooking. Listen to author Grace Young in the opening pages of Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge: “The alchemy of stir-frying brings a blush of color to raw shrimp and a radiance to vegetables. Meats grow plump and fragrant from browning. The stir-fry dish brings food to life.”
Grace Young is a poet at heart, and Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge is infused with her refined sensibility. The recipes speak to a sophisticated palate, as well as one in a hurry to put beautiful food on the table. Young’s recipes are luscious and varied, gleaned from all corners of China, and the beautifully written text is easily followed while still being detailed. Personal stories accompany the recipes, each revealing a little more about the subtlety of stir-frying, and each a peek into the Chinese culture.