Olive oil is delicious and adds flavor to whatever you are cooking. Unlike most oils, it's rarely cloying or overwhelming.
The same can't be said of rice bran, grapeseed or canola oils, which at best have no flavor. Inspired by Sohui Kim and her advice in her cookbook Korean Home Cooking and by Kris Yenbamroong and the story of his father pushing to use more high-quality ingredients in the cookbook Night + Market, we recommend using olive oil instead of whatever other neutral oil you typically use.
We like California Olive Ranch 100% California olive oils, but any good olive oil will be an improvement over a standard neutral oil.
There is even an academic looking paper by Acta Scientific that debunked the smoke point rumors that you couldn't or shouldn't use olive oil when stir frying. Based on our experience, we definitely say that olive oil in the wok passes the sniff test.
Recipe: Stir-Fried Pea Shoots
Olive oil 3 tbsp
Pea shoots (aka pea leaves or dou miao) 1 bunch
Garlic 2 cloves
Chicken broth 1/4 cup or 1 large chicken broth cube if you roll like that
Salt to taste
White pepper to taste
Like all our favorite dishes, this one is quick and delicious. Once you make it a few times, you'll get a sense for the right amount of each ingredient and the right amount of time to cook it.
Heat your wok on medium heat for 30 seconds and add a generous amount of olive oil. Add sliced garlic into the pooled oil and cook for 30 seconds. The garlic should sizzle gently and should not brown.
Add in the pea shoots. Coat with olive oil and cook for ~60 seconds. Add in the chicken broth, stir until the pea shoots are wilted but still semi crisp and season generously with salt and white pepper to taste. Remove from heat and serve.