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Sep 6, 2006 12:17 PM

stir-fried chinese spinach

Has anyone ever wondered about this before?

You go to a Chinese restaurant and order stir-fried chinese spinach (or watercress or bok choy, etc.) and it comes with the tastiest and simplest sauce - clear with some bits of fried garlic. I've tried to replicate the stir-fry technique (I'm Chinese-American and have some tricks up my sleeve thanks to watching my Chinese mother cook) but I still can't seem to figure out what makes those dishes so flavorful. I usually heat up olive oil in a big wok with fried garlic and ginger, and then I throw in the veggies...but to no avail.

A friend says it may have something to do with the oil - maybe they use peanut oil?

Can anyone help me out?


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  1. Yes,it might be peanut oil or even sesame oil.Have you asked your mom?You maybe using the wrong oil.Try using peanut oil.It has a different flavour than olive,and in China peanut oil is more common.
    When I have stirfried bok choy i have used canola oil or Crisco oil,but left out the garlic.

    1. Among other things, if you're not using salt or anything that contains salt, it's no wonder it tastes "blah."

      Most restaurants use soybean oil which if it has any noticeable flavor at all, isn't anything to seek out, so that's probably not your problem. (If it tasted OK but "different", I'd ascribe it the difference in oil.)

      1. I've encountered the same thing. Delicious tasty stir-fried vegetables at restaurants and good but not as tasty ones at home.

        I generally use vegetable/corn oil at home because it is healthier. I think in restaurants they tend to use peanut oil and a lot more of it. I swear I've been to places that introduce animal fat as well.

        I think many places also may add a bit of broth into the stir-fry. MSG also adds extra flavor.

        1. I think you just need to add some flavouring near the end of the stirfrying. I stirfry the vegetables in peanut oil, and just as the vegetables start to look ready to serve, I stir in a couple tablespoons a couple tablespoons of oyster sauce. I find it ends up tasting the same as what I get at the restaurants. Sometimes, instead of oyster sauce, I'll use a mixture of soy sauce and sherry, with a dash of sesame oil.