The Curious Case of the Chinese Frying Pan and Why it’s a Key Piece of Cookware in Far East Cuisine

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Introduction: The Unusual Origin Story of the Frying Pan

The word ‘frying pan’ descends from the Latin words for ‘the frying vessel’ and 300 years ago, a frying pan was just that—a pot or casserole with a handle attached to it. It was not until the 20th century that the frying pan we know today as a flat, circular metal plate with a handle was first used.
The most commonly cited reason for the flat metal plate’s rise as the king of all frying pans is that it is cheaper to manufacture and available in a greater variety of sizes. It is also much more efficient, as you can slip out the last morsel of fried egg with a spatula instead of having to scrape out the remains with a knife.
The first widespread use of the flat round pan, however, was for cooking American style pancakes.

frying pan in a chinese kitchen
frying pan in a chinese kitchen

The Chinese Frying Pan – A History Lesson

Frying pans with handles have a long history, and maybe the oldest frying pan with a handle is the Chinese four-legged stove. The Chinese have been using pots and pans for over four thousand years, so they have developed their own frying pans. The first frying pan to be made in China was made of iron and had only two legs. Besides iron, they also used bronze and stoneware as cooking vessels. In the Tang dynasty (618-907 AD), they began to use terra-cotta. In the Song dynasty (960-1279), there were 100 million terra-cotta pots being made and sold every year. Later, they began to make them in ceramic as well, producing more than 5 million pots each year. Traditionally, a frying pan with a handle can be found in the kitchen of almost every Chinese household. The chinese clay vessels are used for cooking rice and other foodstuffs….

frying pan in a chinese kitchen
frying pan in a chinese kitchen

Why a Chinese Frying Pan is Important for Traditional Recipes

Did you know that a Chinese frying pan can be very useful in cooking traditional recipes? Although it may look like an ordinary frying pan to you, this simple chinese frying pan can help you save lots of time, effort and money. Whether it is for wok hei in stir-frying or for perfect texture and taste in cooking rice, it’s the secret to success that you need. Wok hei is a result of good heat control and the unique properties that a Chinese pan offers.
For those of you who are not familiar with the term, wok hei roughly translates to “breath of the wok”. It is an intangible quality that food takes on when stir-fried in a properly seasoned wok. This taste comes from the combination of ingredients, heat and pressure. Crunchy texture of vegetables, rich taste of meats and fish are examples of dishes that have an outstanding wok hei taste. Storing food inside the refrigerator tends to diminish their natural tastes. You can bring the original flavor and texture back by using a traditional pan.

frying pan in a chinese kitchen
frying pan in a chinese kitchen

What to Look for when Buying a Traditional Chinese Frying Pan

When you are shopping for a traditional chinese frying pan, it is important to find one that is made of the right material. The best material to use in making a chinese frying pan is cast iron. That’s because cast iron can retain heat better, take care of and prolong your iron frying pan’s life. Cast iron can extend the usefulness of your ordinary ol’ skillet and make it work like a Chinese frying pan too. If you buy a Chinese frying pan made of other metals such as aluminum, the structure of the pans will not be durable and the surface will react with food. The food will stick to the surface of your pan, and if you use it for frying, the food won’t be cooked thoroughly. Its quality will deteriorate after a short time.
A good Chinese fried pan should feel smooth on the outside and make a clanking sound when you bang it with a spoon. The edges should be thick and rounded on all sides, so they don’t crack while using them over high heat or while washing them in the dishwasher. The best chinese frying pans are lightweight. This may be an indication that they are made of a light metal such as aluminum.

frying pan in a chinese kitchen
frying pan in a chinese kitchen