Chinese cuisine is celebrated worldwide for its rich flavors, diverse ingredients, and centuries-old culinary traditions. Whether you’re whipping up a quick stir-fry or preparing an elaborate feast, cooking oil plays a pivotal role in Chinese cooking.
The right cooking oil not only influences the taste but also affects your dishes’ overall texture and healthiness.
In this guide, we’ll explore the best cooking oils for Chinese cuisine, delving into their unique flavors, smoke points, and suitability for various cooking techniques.
Whether you’re a seasoned home chef or just beginning your journey into Chinese cooking, understanding the importance of the right cooking oil can elevate your dishes to new heights of authenticity and deliciousness.
So, let’s dive into the world of oils and discover which ones are best suited to make your Chinese culinary adventures unforgettable truly.
Which oil is used in Chinese food?
Many Chinese dishes require the use of cooking oil. Stir-fried vegetables, meat and seafood, are first marinated before stir-fried with garlic, ginger and soy sauce.
A little bit of sesame or peanut oil is used when cooking this type of cuisine. The temperature for frying meat and vegetables should be high enough to seal in the juices.
The right temperature should be high enough to ensure that the meat is cooked through and browned on the outside but not too hot that it begins to burn or smoke.
Chinese food recipes also call for deep-frying, where items are submerged into the hot oil. There are many different types of foods that are deep-fried in China.
You will find battered and fried meatballs, breaded fish fillets, egg rolls, and even French fries in a Chinese restaurant. When frying foods that need batter or breading to hold them together, it is best to use cooking oil with a high smoke point so that you can enjoy these savoury treats without feeling guilty.
How to choose the best cooking oil for Chinese food?
There are many different types of cooking oil available in the market, but choosing high in smoke points will allow you to enjoy the full flavour of Chinese food without compromising your health. The healthy canola oil with a high smoke point is an obvious choice for frying and stir-frying.
Other oils commonly used in Chinese cooking include grapeseed oil, walnut oil, sesame oil and olive oil. Grapeseed oil is a good choice for stir-frying because it has a high smoke point of 420 degrees Fahrenheit. Walnut oil produces a nutty flavour in Chinese cooking but has a lower smoke point than canola oil.
Sesame oil is used for marinating meat and fish before they are stir-fried or deep-fried. The delicate flavour of sesame oil comes through when it is cooked at lower temperatures.
What Makes a Good Chinese Cooking Oil?
When selecting an oil for Chinese cooking, here are some key factors to consider:
High Smoke Point
Many Chinese dishes require high-heat cooking methods like stir-frying, pan-frying, or deep frying. You need an oil with a high smoke point that won’t burn or generate free radicals at typical Chinese cooking temperatures.
The complex layers of flavors in Chinese cuisine should take center stage. Choose a neutral-tasting oil that won’t overpower the other ingredients.
Promotes Browning and Crisping
The right oil will help your stir-fries caramelize to a rich brown and give dishes like scallion pancakes a nice crisp exterior.
Look for an all-purpose oil that can be used for various cooking methods, from sautéing to baking.
5 Best Oils for Chinese Cooking
Based on these criteria, here are 5 great oil options for authentic Chinese dishes to stock in your pantry.
1. Peanut Oil
- Smoke Point: 450°F
- Flavor: Neutral, slightly nutty
With its high smoke point and mild flavor, peanut oil is hands down the most popular and traditional cooking oil for Chinese cuisine. It’s ideal for stir-frying, pan-frying, and deep frying, adding subtle nuttiness to dishes. Refined peanut oil has the cleanest flavor.
2. Vegetable Oil
- Smoke Point: 400-450°F
- Flavor: Very neutral
Plain vegetable oil combines oils like canola, soybean, and corn. It has a high smoke point and clean, neutral taste, letting other ingredients shine. It’s a great all-purpose option for Chinese cooking methods like stir-frying, sautéing and baking.
3. Canola Oil
- Smoke Point: 400°F
- Flavor: Neutral
With similar properties to vegetable oil, canola oil has a mild flavor and high smoke point. It works well for stir-fries and pan-fried dishes. A blend of canola and peanut oil is also popular in Chinese kitchens.
4. Sesame Oil
- Smoke Point: 350-410°F
- Flavor: Strong sesame flavor
Toasted sesame oil adds a wonderful, rich, nutty aroma to Chinese dishes. Due to its bold flavor and lower smoke point, it’s best used as a finishing oil rather than for cooking. A touch of sesame oil can take a stir-fry or noodle dish to the next level.
5. Corn Oil
- Smoke Point: 450°F
- Flavor: Neutral
Made from the germ of corn kernels, refined corn oil has a high smoke point and clean taste. It can be used for all kinds of Chinese cooking methods. Unrefined corn oil has more flavor but a lower smoke point.
Choosing the Right Oil for Different Dishes
Now that you know the best oils for Chinese cuisine, here are some recommendations for which oil to use for different authentic Chinese dishes:
For classic Chinese stir-fries, peanut oil and vegetable oil are perfect choices. Both have high smoke points and neutral flavors that won’t compete with other ingredients.
To achieve jiaozi dumplings with a nice crisp bottom and tender wrapper, fry them in peanut or vegetable oil.
A wok full of sizzling fried rice needs an oil with high heat tolerance and a clean taste. Use peanut or vegetable oil.
These crisp-edged pancakes rely on oil to fry up the dough. Peanut oil is traditionally used, but vegetable also works well.
Peanut oil won’t fail you for pan-fried wontons with crispy skin. Its high smoke point prevents burning.
Whether frying up egg rolls, sweet sesame balls, or chicken, you need an oil that can withstand high heat. Peanut oil is the most popular, but vegetable also does the trick.
Marinades and Sauces
To add flavor to sauces and marinades, add a few drops of sesame oil at the end. Its robust aroma enhances many Chinese sauces.
A touch of sesame oil right before serving gives noodles an extra flavor. Peanut and vegetable oil work well for the cooking process.
Tips for Cooking with Chinese Oils
Here are some valuable tips to get the most out of your oil when cooking authentic Chinese food:
- Add oil to a cold wok or pan, then heat it before cooking. This prevents sticking.
- Let the wok heat up on high for stir-frying until the oil smokes, then add your ingredients.
- When deep frying, use oil sparingly. 1-3 inches of oil in a wok is plenty.
- Stored properly, oils like peanuts and vegetables will last about a year. Store away from heat and light.
- Don’t throw old cooking oil down the drain. Let it cool completely, then dispose of it in the garbage.
- Consider buying peanut and vegetable oil in large quantities. They have a long shelf life.
- When finishing a dish with sesame oil, add it off the heat so it doesn’t burn. A few drops are all you need.
The Perfect Oil for Singing Woks
Whether you’re a beginner cook or a Chinese cuisine connoisseur, choosing the right oil for the cooking method elevates the flavor. Peanut, vegetables, sesame, and canola oil are all options guaranteed to take your homemade Chinese food to new heights.
Your stir-fries will sing, dumplings will delight, and works will work wondrous flavors. With oil that can withstand high heat and complement this complex cuisine, you’ll impress guests with restaurant-worthy Chinese dishes in no time.
What are the benefits of cooking with oils?
Oils are a healthy option when cooking because they have a high smoke point. Vegetable oils contain many monounsaturated fatty acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids. And linoleic acid, an essential nutrient for your diet.
The right amount of fat in your diet provides good cholesterol that keeps your heart and body healthy. When used to fry at high temperatures, canola oil will not have any toxic compounds such as trans-fat or saturated fats that clog up your arteries and increase the level of bad cholesterol.
The nutritional value of cooking oil varies depending on the type of oil used. Canola oil is considered one of the healthiest oils because it has a low-calorie count and is rich in healthy fats.
When used for deep-frying, one tablespoon of canola oil will provide 100 calories. The same serving size contains 0 per cent of your daily value of vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that helps slow down the ageing process.
|Total fat||10 g|
|Saturated Fat||1 g|
|Polyunsaturated Fat (including omega-6 fatty acids)||9 g|
|Monounsaturated Fat (including omega 3 fatty acids)||2 g|
|Cholesterol: 0 mg Trans fat||0 g|
What is the best type of oil for cooking Chinese food?
Chinese food is a flavorful cuisine that has been around for centuries. It is typically cooked in a large saucepan with dark soy sauce, sugar, and rice wine.
The ingredients are combined with water or stock to create the desired flavor, such as sweet and sour or garlic fried rice. To achieve these flavors with cooking oil, you should consider some important aspects when choosing good fat.
The Bottom Line
If you’re looking for cooking oil that will give your Chinese food the perfect flavour, look no further than peanut oil. This is one of the most popular choices in China and many other Asian countries because of its excellent flavour profile.
It has a high smoke point, so it won’t burn as easily when frying foods like chicken wings or pork buns, and it also happens to be low-fat, which is great if you are trying to watch your calorie intake. Consider using this cooking oil the next time you make egg rolls or dumplings at home!
What are the health implications of cooking with certain oils?
In comparing the different types of oil, several attributes can positively or negatively affect your health. The oil you choose should include a high smoke point, a neutral flavor, and be heart healthy.
Where can I find information on the different kinds of cooking oil?
There are many options when it comes to selecting the right type of cooking oil to use in your favorite Chinese recipes. It is important to look at each oil’s nutritional facts and other characteristics. In the end, you need to consider your recipe’s flavor, price point, and cooking method.
Which cooking oils are good for a deep-fat fryer?
For frying, vegetable oils have an advantage over animal oils because they do not become rancid quickly. However, vegetable oils have a narrower temperature range. Most deep-fat fryers use oil with a higher smoke point to produce a crisp texture and are safe for cooking with during the summer months.
Why does it matter if you fry with olive oil?
Olive oil is one of the healthiest oils but has a very low smoke point and can go bad quickly. If you are concerned about your health or want to cook Chinese food home with olive oil, consider using neutral-flavored cooking oil with a high smoke point.