2

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Chinese Cooking Hacks -- OIL options

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created March 12, 2013 at 5:26 PM

Hey all,

My amazing partner is Chinese and every Sunday we have an awesome family gathering where his mom cooks FANTASTIC authentic Chinese feasts (forget everything you've ever seen at a Chinese buffet -- that's not real Chinese food) for us to all share as a family. His mom is a STELLAR cook -- like amazing. The cuisine is somewhat Shanghai style -- more specifically Changzhou (their hometown) and the emphasis is all on fresh ingredients and light cooking.

I adore this style of cooking and eat way more than my fair share every week (and wouldn't miss it for the WORLD) but I am slightly concerned about the oil. It's not the fat that I worry about, its the quality of the cooking oil that she uses. Its straight up Crisco vegetable oil.

I haven't mentioned it to her as I really don't want to be disrespectful. My boyfriend noticed it too and shares my concern since we both eat Primal/Paleo and are fit and healthy people. He says if we bring something to her, she'll use it as long as she can get the same results taste wise, so coconut oil, red palm oil and butter are out. She does a lot of very high heat cooking (Wok style) so it needs to have a high smoking poing and no taste.

I'm not looking for the "just enjoy the experience, its just once a week" type answer, as this is what I'm doing now. I'm also genuinely concerned for our family's overall health and well-being and just want to offer something that could be perhaps a slightly healthier oil option. She's open to trying new things but is still a traditionalist -- so as far as she's concerned, there is nothing wrong with vegetable oil and using it daily for everything.

The LAST thing I want to do is make a mountain out of a mole hill here, so basically I'm wondering what I could bring that meets her criteria (high smoke point, tasteless, liquid preferably) and is healthier than crisco veg oil?

Thanks!!

5b9a25a1a676397a25579dfad59e1d7b

(2318)

on March 13, 2013
at 04:48 PM

I'll bring some to her and see if it will work for her, otherwise I'll try high oletic sunflower oil.

5b9a25a1a676397a25579dfad59e1d7b

(2318)

on March 13, 2013
at 04:48 PM

I'm not going to preach to her about "going back to her roots" since to her, this is the way she knows Chinese cooking (with light oils). Coconut won't fly (I tried) but I'm going to suggest lard and high oletic sunflower oil. Thanks.

5b9a25a1a676397a25579dfad59e1d7b

(2318)

on March 13, 2013
at 04:46 PM

Thanks I found this as well...I think I'll try high oletic sunflower oil since its probably the closest to what she's used to and go from there...

5b9a25a1a676397a25579dfad59e1d7b

(2318)

on March 13, 2013
at 04:45 PM

We travel to China often and the only cooking method I've seen in the cities has been oil. Lard may be common as well (china is so huge) but not in their hometown. I'll try to suggest it though!

5b9a25a1a676397a25579dfad59e1d7b

(2318)

on March 13, 2013
at 04:43 PM

She prefers oil, but I'll try!

5b9a25a1a676397a25579dfad59e1d7b

(2318)

on March 13, 2013
at 04:42 PM

I'm in Ottawa, Canada -- we do have a Costco though so I can check it out!

43873f3cea4f22f91653b0f5ec7ab9d9

(401)

on March 12, 2013
at 07:45 PM

Yep, refined coconut oil is almost tasteless, and pretty cheap too (WAY cheaper than unrefined).

Medium avatar

(39831)

on March 12, 2013
at 05:54 PM

Maybe find out what the Chinese traditionally used for cooking fats? I'm guessing it'd be lard, which shouldn't impart a strong taste in one way or another.

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7 Answers

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2
92d67b02a709cad2250f10848f9178e6

on March 12, 2013
at 07:36 PM

If coconut oil or palm kernel oil affects the taste of her food too much, try sunflower oil (high oletic). It looks decent in the omega 6:3 department. It shouldn't have a distinct flavor.

chinese-cooking-hacks----oil-options

Taken from http://paleozonenutrition.com/2011/05/10/omega-6-and-3-in-nuts-oils-meat-and-fish-tools-to-get-it-right/

5b9a25a1a676397a25579dfad59e1d7b

(2318)

on March 13, 2013
at 04:46 PM

Thanks I found this as well...I think I'll try high oletic sunflower oil since its probably the closest to what she's used to and go from there...

2
028e70a250f38bd61fa81b0e0789bb6e

on March 13, 2013
at 05:47 AM

Lard is definitely your best bet. It has been used in China for a very, very long time until the fat fear spread to China. Sadly you'll probably need to look up on taobao to get it now.

5b9a25a1a676397a25579dfad59e1d7b

(2318)

on March 13, 2013
at 04:45 PM

We travel to China often and the only cooking method I've seen in the cities has been oil. Lard may be common as well (china is so huge) but not in their hometown. I'll try to suggest it though!

2
B72e976b2df9e7f01315830062a5209c

(1365)

on March 12, 2013
at 05:51 PM

Have you tried refined coconut oil? I know virgin cold-pressed is the healthiest, but it also has a distinct flavor where the refined oil will be mostly tasteless (depends somewhat on the brand).

43873f3cea4f22f91653b0f5ec7ab9d9

(401)

on March 12, 2013
at 07:45 PM

Yep, refined coconut oil is almost tasteless, and pretty cheap too (WAY cheaper than unrefined).

5b9a25a1a676397a25579dfad59e1d7b

(2318)

on March 13, 2013
at 04:48 PM

I'll bring some to her and see if it will work for her, otherwise I'll try high oletic sunflower oil.

1
Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on March 12, 2013
at 06:54 PM

For Chinese style cooking here in the states, that's mostly paleo, your best options are unrefined coconut oil and lard.

Coconut oil takes up something like Chinese five spice very well, and works great in a stir fry.

And where the Chinese traditionally used meat, nothing is more Chinese than pig - so lard works just as well, if not better than coconut oil. (Okay, granted, China is HUGE, and not everyone eats 1 way.)

There is nothing authentic or traditional about using Crisco in Chinese cuisine. If she really wants to "go back to her roots" help her find an authentic fat to use - the answer is likely going to be lard. :-) Just please, oh please, don't buy the bricks of lard from the grocery store - that stuff is hydrogenated, and just as bad, if not worse, than Crisco.

5b9a25a1a676397a25579dfad59e1d7b

(2318)

on March 13, 2013
at 04:48 PM

I'm not going to preach to her about "going back to her roots" since to her, this is the way she knows Chinese cooking (with light oils). Coconut won't fly (I tried) but I'm going to suggest lard and high oletic sunflower oil. Thanks.

0
Ac1be7d044a82c85cee039f3435a550f

(150)

on March 13, 2013
at 05:20 PM

I'll still suggest lard, regardless of the opinion towards the fat fear it's still going to be the most familiar cooking oil out of the suggested ones. Also, you may consider suggesting homemade lard (or making some as a gift/sample), with a slow cooker it's as easy as popping the fat bits into the cooker and filtering it out the rendered liquid oil the next day. Recipes are quite easy to find on Google. I cook for myself, but 1/2kg of fat renders enough lard to last me a couple of months.

Plus, with the homemade version, you can avoid any suspicion about hidden chemicals or stabilizers, and depending on where you bought the fat you can get the healthiest, most paleo-compliant pork fat for your oil.

0
Aff848fc26887351f8f8c14b0eb57abe

on March 13, 2013
at 02:29 AM

The absolute best would be naturally refined avocado oil. It has a 500 plus degree smoke point (higher than virgin avocado oil) is relatively affordable and as long as you choose a naturally refined version you don't have to worry about junk like hexane and caustic soda ending up in the oil which are used in the chemically refined stuff. I don't know where you live but Costco in the Bay Area just started carrying a naturally refined avocado oil 1 liter for 9.59. Pretty good deal.Maybe they have it near you?

5b9a25a1a676397a25579dfad59e1d7b

(2318)

on March 13, 2013
at 04:42 PM

I'm in Ottawa, Canada -- we do have a Costco though so I can check it out!

0
235b077872243d4ee5796c6ace3c0970

on March 12, 2013
at 05:30 PM

Avocado oil is usually considered relatively tasteless. You could also use lard, especially for meat dishes.

5b9a25a1a676397a25579dfad59e1d7b

(2318)

on March 13, 2013
at 04:43 PM

She prefers oil, but I'll try!

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