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Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge: The Ultimate Guide to Mastery, with Authentic Recipes and Stories

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Winner of the 2011 James Beard Foundation Award for International CookingThe stir-fry is all things: refined, improvisational, adaptable, and inventive. It is the rare culinary practice that makes less seem like more, and by which small amounts of food feed many.For centuries the Chinese have carried their woks to all corners of the earth and re-created stir-fry dishes, us Winner of the 2011 James Beard Foundation Award for International CookingThe stir-fry is all things: refined, improvisational, adaptable, and inventive. It is the rare culinary practice that makes less seem like more, and by which small amounts of food feed many.For centuries the Chinese have carried their woks to all corners of the earth and re-created stir-fry dishes, using local and sometimes nontraditional ingredients. The old expression: "One wok runs to the sky’s edge" means "one who uses the wok becomes master of the cooking world." And as the wok user becomes master of the cooking world, so does he become master of the stir-fry, one of the greatest techniques of Chinese cookery. The technique and tradition of stir-frying, which is at once simple yet subtly complex, is as vital today as it has been for hundreds of years. In Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge, James Beard Award-winning author Grace Young shares more than 100 classic stir-fry recipes that sizzle with heat and pop with flavor, from the great Cantonese stir-fry masters to the culinary customs of Sichuan, Hunan, Shanghai, Beijing, Fujian, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Singapore, and Malaysia, as well as other countries around the world. With more than 80 stunning full-color photographs, Young’s definitive work illustrates the innumerable, easy-to-learn possibilities the technique offers—dry stir-fries, moist stir-fries, clear stir-fries, velvet stir-fries—and weaves the insights of Chinese cooking philosophy into the preparation of such beloved dishes as Kung Pao Chicken, Stir-Fried Beef and Broccoli, Chicken Lo Mein with Ginger Mushrooms, and Dry-Fried Sichuan Beans. In honoring the traditions of her cultural ancestors who traveled the globe, Young offers delectable crossover recipes for Chinese Jamaican Jerk Chicken Fried Rice, Chinese Trinidadian Stir-Fried Shrimp with Rum, Chinese Burmese Chili Chicken, and Chinese American Shrimp with Lobster Sauce. Expert home cooks and professional chefs teach you the foundations of stir-fry mastery in the modern kitchen—everything from how to choose, season, and care for a wok and the best skillet alternative; the importance of marinades and the proper technique for slicing meat and poultry for optimum tenderness; to how to select and handle Asian vegetables; ways to shortcut labor-intensive preparations; and tips on how to control heat and choose the best cooking oil. Fascinating personal portraits illustrate how stir-frying is not just a cooking technique but a vital element of China’s rich culture. With this book, Grace Young has created the authoritative guide to stir-frying, a work that is at once rewarding and beautiful, much like the technique of stir-frying itself.


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Winner of the 2011 James Beard Foundation Award for International CookingThe stir-fry is all things: refined, improvisational, adaptable, and inventive. It is the rare culinary practice that makes less seem like more, and by which small amounts of food feed many.For centuries the Chinese have carried their woks to all corners of the earth and re-created stir-fry dishes, us Winner of the 2011 James Beard Foundation Award for International CookingThe stir-fry is all things: refined, improvisational, adaptable, and inventive. It is the rare culinary practice that makes less seem like more, and by which small amounts of food feed many.For centuries the Chinese have carried their woks to all corners of the earth and re-created stir-fry dishes, using local and sometimes nontraditional ingredients. The old expression: "One wok runs to the sky’s edge" means "one who uses the wok becomes master of the cooking world." And as the wok user becomes master of the cooking world, so does he become master of the stir-fry, one of the greatest techniques of Chinese cookery. The technique and tradition of stir-frying, which is at once simple yet subtly complex, is as vital today as it has been for hundreds of years. In Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge, James Beard Award-winning author Grace Young shares more than 100 classic stir-fry recipes that sizzle with heat and pop with flavor, from the great Cantonese stir-fry masters to the culinary customs of Sichuan, Hunan, Shanghai, Beijing, Fujian, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Singapore, and Malaysia, as well as other countries around the world. With more than 80 stunning full-color photographs, Young’s definitive work illustrates the innumerable, easy-to-learn possibilities the technique offers—dry stir-fries, moist stir-fries, clear stir-fries, velvet stir-fries—and weaves the insights of Chinese cooking philosophy into the preparation of such beloved dishes as Kung Pao Chicken, Stir-Fried Beef and Broccoli, Chicken Lo Mein with Ginger Mushrooms, and Dry-Fried Sichuan Beans. In honoring the traditions of her cultural ancestors who traveled the globe, Young offers delectable crossover recipes for Chinese Jamaican Jerk Chicken Fried Rice, Chinese Trinidadian Stir-Fried Shrimp with Rum, Chinese Burmese Chili Chicken, and Chinese American Shrimp with Lobster Sauce. Expert home cooks and professional chefs teach you the foundations of stir-fry mastery in the modern kitchen—everything from how to choose, season, and care for a wok and the best skillet alternative; the importance of marinades and the proper technique for slicing meat and poultry for optimum tenderness; to how to select and handle Asian vegetables; ways to shortcut labor-intensive preparations; and tips on how to control heat and choose the best cooking oil. Fascinating personal portraits illustrate how stir-frying is not just a cooking technique but a vital element of China’s rich culture. With this book, Grace Young has created the authoritative guide to stir-frying, a work that is at once rewarding and beautiful, much like the technique of stir-frying itself.

30 review for Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge: The Ultimate Guide to Mastery, with Authentic Recipes and Stories

  1. 5 out of 5

    Eric

    Grace Young's cook books are always good. I learned Chinese cooking from Grace Young's The Breath of a Wok: Breath of a Wok. My family doesn't leave any leftovers when I cook one of Young's recipes. This book, Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge, is just what it advertises. It is an in-depth, exhaustive treatise on stir-frying. If there is anything to be said about stir-frying, this book says it, and it leaves nothing out. If you're only going to buy one of Young's books, I recommend The Breath of a Wok Grace Young's cook books are always good. I learned Chinese cooking from Grace Young's The Breath of a Wok: Breath of a Wok. My family doesn't leave any leftovers when I cook one of Young's recipes. This book, Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge, is just what it advertises. It is an in-depth, exhaustive treatise on stir-frying. If there is anything to be said about stir-frying, this book says it, and it leaves nothing out. If you're only going to buy one of Young's books, I recommend The Breath of a Wok: Breath of a Wok. It has better stories, better photography, and it covers a broad range of Chinese cooking, not just stir-frying. Not that Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge isn't a good cook book. It's just that Young set the bar so high with Breath of a Wok.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Steven

    Who reads cookbooks? Well, I do sometimes. I'm a reasonably good cook and I really enjoy good food. I lived in Taiwan for two years back in the mid '70s and I have been trying for 35 years to recreate the elusive flavors I remember. This book finally allowed me to do that. Grace Young defined the subtle, quintessential something that I had been missing as "wok hay" and her book taught me how to capture it. The recipes are fabulous, but the greatest value of this book for me (besides the revelatio Who reads cookbooks? Well, I do sometimes. I'm a reasonably good cook and I really enjoy good food. I lived in Taiwan for two years back in the mid '70s and I have been trying for 35 years to recreate the elusive flavors I remember. This book finally allowed me to do that. Grace Young defined the subtle, quintessential something that I had been missing as "wok hay" and her book taught me how to capture it. The recipes are fabulous, but the greatest value of this book for me (besides the revelation of wok hay) was the stories Young tells of the Chinese diaspora and how Chinese cuisine has been adapted to the culinary environs of all the countries where Chinese people have settled. Jamaican Jerk Chicken Fried Rice is just one exciting example. This is an exceptional book. An absolute must for anyone interested in Chinese cooking.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Alaina

    (i had to skim through the end of this cookbook in order to return it to the library on time, so this review unfortunately rests incomplete.) stir-frying to the sky's edge transformed my understanding of the term "stir fry." i used to toss around this term as a catch-all for a no-rules, clean-out-the-fridge meal cooked in a frying pan. how wrong i was. author grace young taught me that stir frying is a highly technical act, and one that often doesn't succeed in a pan without becoming a braise. (w (i had to skim through the end of this cookbook in order to return it to the library on time, so this review unfortunately rests incomplete.) stir-frying to the sky's edge transformed my understanding of the term "stir fry." i used to toss around this term as a catch-all for a no-rules, clean-out-the-fridge meal cooked in a frying pan. how wrong i was. author grace young taught me that stir frying is a highly technical act, and one that often doesn't succeed in a pan without becoming a braise. (woks are best!). i clearly learned a lot from reading this book's introduction, and the ingredient prep explainers that followed further sharpened my understanding of this aspect of chinese cooking. i also love that young centers chefs and home cooks of the chinese diaspora by sharing their interviews, essays, and, of course, recipes. standout pieces included how early chinese-american inhabitants of the mississippi delta adapted their stir fries to southern staples and why stir-frying bagels (!) is a thing amongst certain beijingers. i got the chance to make a few of young's recipes and was impressed by their ingredient-prep-heavy, cook-time-light nature. that being said, i'm far from skilled at stir frying, so i hope to check out this book from the library again someday.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Michael O'Hara

    I very much enjoyed the mix of personal experience, cultural exploration and culinary technique in this book. As a vegetarian, many of the recipes in the book do not apply to my cooking, but I found the approach to wok cooking perfectly translatable to my needs. I now use our wok much more than I previously have.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Cris

    I picked this book up for technique instruction and potential recipes, not for the stories. Young seems to assume that readers have already committed themselves to fully embracing stir-frying with a wok and all that entails. I hadn't. I wanted to try some recipes because stir-frying as a concept appeals to me. Young's books has me seriously reconsidering even trying. Her insistence that stir-frying should always involve a wok and her instructions for preparing the wok are overwhelming. And that's I picked this book up for technique instruction and potential recipes, not for the stories. Young seems to assume that readers have already committed themselves to fully embracing stir-frying with a wok and all that entails. I hadn't. I wanted to try some recipes because stir-frying as a concept appeals to me. Young's books has me seriously reconsidering even trying. Her insistence that stir-frying should always involve a wok and her instructions for preparing the wok are overwhelming. And that's before she begins her techniques for the 'kitchen basics'. On the positive side, Young's instructions are clear and well-illustrated with photos. I would have suggested some re-arranging of recipes, though. Her instructions on basic stir-frying of vegetables and the preparation of rice (that's expected to accompany almost every dish) are located almost at the very end of the book. I may, or may not, attempt a few recipes from her book. But I'm well on my way to giving up on the concept of stir-frying thanks to Ms. Young.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Cecilia Adame

    I love this cookbook and recommend highly to anyone who is interested in learning how to make anything stir fried. I initially bought this book because my local Chinese cafe closed and I really liked their chow mein so I decided to buy a cookbook to learn about the spices to use. I had tried stir fry before but was not happy with the soggy veggies that resulted by using my non stick Calphalon wok I had purchased five or so years ago. Between this book and "Breath of a Wok" also by Grace Young I l I love this cookbook and recommend highly to anyone who is interested in learning how to make anything stir fried. I initially bought this book because my local Chinese cafe closed and I really liked their chow mein so I decided to buy a cookbook to learn about the spices to use. I had tried stir fry before but was not happy with the soggy veggies that resulted by using my non stick Calphalon wok I had purchased five or so years ago. Between this book and "Breath of a Wok" also by Grace Young I learned to make an awesome stir fry using a lot of veggies, baking soda tenderized chicken and Chinese five spice. I was so confused about what noodles to use and discovered that spaghetti noodles work just fine. since I am getting away from eating white starch I use whole wheat noodles delicious.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Denice

    I can’t recommend this cookbook enough. I picked this one up at the museum of Chinese in America in NYC. It is a signed copy. When I bought it, I knew nothing about chinese stir fry. This book spells everything out. How to prep the wok, what ingredients to look for, etc. it’s stir frying for dummies. I have learned so much from this book and the recipes are amazing! I am looking forward on making Kung Pao Chicken tonight!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Danielle

    This book is a fantastic tool for learning how to cook dishes that may have seemed intimidating to those who didn't grow up in a stir-frying home. Each time I make one of the recipes, I say to myself, 'wow! That's exactly how (xyz) is supposed to taste!' Getting a wok is not expensive, and absolutely worth it. The author gives great instructions on how to set up your equipment and pantry without overwhelming the book. The recipes are clear and straightforward, without hidden sub-recipes. This bo This book is a fantastic tool for learning how to cook dishes that may have seemed intimidating to those who didn't grow up in a stir-frying home. Each time I make one of the recipes, I say to myself, 'wow! That's exactly how (xyz) is supposed to taste!' Getting a wok is not expensive, and absolutely worth it. The author gives great instructions on how to set up your equipment and pantry without overwhelming the book. The recipes are clear and straightforward, without hidden sub-recipes. This book is going to be well-loved in our home.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Richard Lear

    This is the book that made me a very good home Chinese stir-fry cook. It gave me techniques and recipes that enabled me to cook restaurant quality dishes at home. I also got to know Grace through emails and her Facebook group, Wok Wednesdays. If you want to up your stir-frying game, this book is an essential addition to your cookbook collection. It's filled with great stories too. It's a James Beard award winner. This is the book that made me a very good home Chinese stir-fry cook. It gave me techniques and recipes that enabled me to cook restaurant quality dishes at home. I also got to know Grace through emails and her Facebook group, Wok Wednesdays. If you want to up your stir-frying game, this book is an essential addition to your cookbook collection. It's filled with great stories too. It's a James Beard award winner.

  10. 5 out of 5

    suzzycka

    Good book with poor kindle formating I liked the concept, style and recipes of this book. But the kindle formatting was done poorly. The pictures were tiny, sometimes not matching the text, the cross-links nonexistent and page numbers wrong. I think it will be really difficult to navigate and search for recipes when I will try to find them later to use for cooking.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Łukasz Badura

    I learned a few things to improve my stir-frying skills, liked the stories behind recipes. I was hoping for more vegan/ vegetarian recipes though.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Dray

    Some of the best directions on wok cooking I have read. Large collection of varied stir fries from the east with notable outtakes and comments on skills and techniques.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Holly A. Hartzok

    All of the recipes that I tried have turned out great and taste wonderful.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sherry Arp

    I really enjoyed the many different personal stories sprinkled throughout the book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ashani

    Another great book I'm looking forward to add to my permanent collection! Another great book I'm looking forward to add to my permanent collection!

  16. 4 out of 5

    NativeDCer

    Excellent clear instructions, great history, yummy recipes!

  17. 4 out of 5

    John Beverley

    If you want to make authentic Chinese stir fry, this is your book. A few caveats: stir fryer and high BTU heat source are critical (doesn't work well with electrics or non-sticks), must use fresh ingredients from real ethnic markets, sauces and cooking wines make for very salty end results, many steps must be executed quickly with impeccable timing, be careful not to burn yourself. For all the time, money, and trouble, you're probably better off going to a high end Chinese restaurant. Makes a gr If you want to make authentic Chinese stir fry, this is your book. A few caveats: stir fryer and high BTU heat source are critical (doesn't work well with electrics or non-sticks), must use fresh ingredients from real ethnic markets, sauces and cooking wines make for very salty end results, many steps must be executed quickly with impeccable timing, be careful not to burn yourself. For all the time, money, and trouble, you're probably better off going to a high end Chinese restaurant. Makes a great coffee table book, though.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    Another good "wok" book by Grace Young. This one contains a variety of wok recipes interlaced with personal stories about native Chinese who adapted their cooking as immigrants to countries around the world. Young is intrigued by the Chinese cooks' way of adapting stir-fry to local ingredients and tools. I've tried out the recipes for fried rice and broccoli beef (rookie recipes according to Young) and they were a big hit at our house. Another good "wok" book by Grace Young. This one contains a variety of wok recipes interlaced with personal stories about native Chinese who adapted their cooking as immigrants to countries around the world. Young is intrigued by the Chinese cooks' way of adapting stir-fry to local ingredients and tools. I've tried out the recipes for fried rice and broccoli beef (rookie recipes according to Young) and they were a big hit at our house.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Maggie

    This is an excellent cookbook. Every recipe I've tried from it so far has been easy to follow and has resulted in delicious, authentic meals. What I like best, though, is how thoroughly Young discusses all the basic ingredients of Chinese cooking, explains (in words and pictures) basic knife skills for different preparations, and covers proper cleaning and care of a wok. I got this book for Christmas, and already I've learned so much from it. I highly recommend it. This is an excellent cookbook. Every recipe I've tried from it so far has been easy to follow and has resulted in delicious, authentic meals. What I like best, though, is how thoroughly Young discusses all the basic ingredients of Chinese cooking, explains (in words and pictures) basic knife skills for different preparations, and covers proper cleaning and care of a wok. I got this book for Christmas, and already I've learned so much from it. I highly recommend it.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Anthony

    Mostly skimmed through the recipes. The book is a great primer on cooking with a wok - it explains the different types of woks, how to season and maintain a wok, and the general process behind stir frying. The recipes seem to have a Cantonese/Chinese-American influence (disappointing to me, as I was hoping to find more Northern-style dishes). I'm reading through The Breath of a Wok and so far I would recommend that over this book Mostly skimmed through the recipes. The book is a great primer on cooking with a wok - it explains the different types of woks, how to season and maintain a wok, and the general process behind stir frying. The recipes seem to have a Cantonese/Chinese-American influence (disappointing to me, as I was hoping to find more Northern-style dishes). I'm reading through The Breath of a Wok and so far I would recommend that over this book

  21. 5 out of 5

    Valerie

    All of the information about stir-frying, chinese immigrants adapting to new foods, and keeping their traditions alive while forging new ones was fascinating. I will wait on the final star until after I try some of the dishes. One that intrigues me involves stir-frying bagels...I'll certainly try that one. All of the information about stir-frying, chinese immigrants adapting to new foods, and keeping their traditions alive while forging new ones was fascinating. I will wait on the final star until after I try some of the dishes. One that intrigues me involves stir-frying bagels...I'll certainly try that one.

  22. 4 out of 5

    DK Simoneau

    I went on a stir-fry kick awhile back, and this was THE book that made it last for so long. Everything we tried came out wonderful. Well written, well documented with steps and picture. A Great great cookbook on stir-fry for sure! Had to buy two copies so at my partner's house we could use it too! I went on a stir-fry kick awhile back, and this was THE book that made it last for so long. Everything we tried came out wonderful. Well written, well documented with steps and picture. A Great great cookbook on stir-fry for sure! Had to buy two copies so at my partner's house we could use it too!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Every recipe I have made from this book has been super delicious. Easy to follow and as long as you have all of the ingredients explained at the beginning of the book, you can cook hundreds of yummy things. I love my wok!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mel

    Grace's cookbooks are a beautiful compilation of food, recipes, and history. Her recipes in this book are fail-safe; I never made a good stirfry before I owned this book, and now mine are always great! Highly recommend. She is a wonderful writer, and a gracious person. Grace's cookbooks are a beautiful compilation of food, recipes, and history. Her recipes in this book are fail-safe; I never made a good stirfry before I owned this book, and now mine are always great! Highly recommend. She is a wonderful writer, and a gracious person.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Julia

    Brought my Chinese cooking up a whole notch. Husband would rather eat this than eat out.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lauran

    Only made two recipes so far, but both turned out better than my randomness. Easy directions and really good intro explanations about wok cooking. Now I just need a suitable wok.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Heard her speak at the Roger Smith Cookbook Conference 2012

  28. 5 out of 5

    Marilyn

    Yum! Excellent pictures and really decent recipes. I need to buy a new wok so I will follow the author's sage advice on what to get. Yum! Excellent pictures and really decent recipes. I need to buy a new wok so I will follow the author's sage advice on what to get.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Maria

    ok

  30. 5 out of 5

    Leslie Ziesing

    Good recipes, ingredients are easy to fins.

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