Often the first step in many Chinese recipes is to ‘heat oil in the wok’. A variety of cooking oils add fragrance to the dish. Oil keeps the food from sticking to the wok. At a high temperature, oil can cook your dish in a few minutes.
Choose oils based on flavor preference or the oil’s benefits. If budget is the deciding factor, soybean oil (大豆油, dà dòuyóu) is a great choice. Soy bean oil aids in nourishing the intestines. A stressful work week may benefit from corn oil (玉米油, yùmǐ yóu), as it helps relax the heart and brain. Expecting mothers may consider walnut oil (核桃油, hétáo yóu) as it is packed with nutrients beneficial for the fetus’ brain, retina, skin and kidney development Peanut oil (花生油, huāshēngyóu) is a nutritious oil adding wonderful fragrance to dishes.
While different cooking oils possess distinct benefits, we cannot overuse it. Just because it's healthy, it doesn't mean you can drench your food in it. Scientific research shows that a daily intake of 25 grams is enough for adults.
Ginger, Garlic, and Scallion
There is an old saying in China, "Eat ginger, garlic, and scallion daily, and the frequency of getting sick will decrease by half."
Chī hǎo cōng jiāng suàn, bìngtòng shǎo yībàn.
In Chinese traditional medicine culture, food is medicine. To some extent, it can account for why in China, ginger, garlic, and scallion are indispensable ingredients. More than 2,000 years ago, Confucius wrote, “不撒姜食，不多食。”(Bù sā jiāng shí, bù duō shí.) It means Confucius ate ginger for every meal, but he did not eat much each time. Ginger has a mild nature, which warms the blood and stimulates appetite. Garlic is pungent and kills bacteria, especially great for preventing stomach and intestinal disease. Scallion may suppress bacteria formation and aid digestion. In addition to adding aromas to dishes, they also help support healthy physique and function.
In Chinese culinary history, salt ranks high amongst all the food flavors (盐是百味之首, Yán shì bǎiwèi zhī shǒu). When tasting a dish before adding salt, the palate senses lack of flavor. Once enough salt is added, food tastes instantly delicious!
Written by Juling He
The five ingredients are cooking oil, ginger, garlic, scallion, and salt.