While the type of oil used depends on the regional cuisine, with peanut oil reigning supreme in southern China and soy oil in the north, oil is king. It wasn’t always like this, however. In the past, before China’s exponential economic growth allowed cooking oil to become more affordable to a wider spectrum of the population, minimal quantities of lard and animal fat took the place of cooking oil.

Oil’s so important in China that news stories related to oil will often appear in the media. And in fact, some believe that the reason the Chinese are so thin is that the oil coating Chinese cuisine allows the food to more easily digest. And as consequence of China’s increased economic might, and growing middle class with a taste for imported products, olive oil is becoming even more popular. Even though its market share is small, many say that there is potential for it to grow in the future.

While olive oil is more used for cold dishes in China, much like the fact that Americans will often use olive oil for salad dressing, the Executive Chef at Beijing’s Great Wall Hotel, Tian Quming, says that olive oil is perfect for Chinese food.

What types of Chinese food preparation methods are suited for olive oil? Tian notes that “olive oil is especially suitable for stewing, braising, and earthen pot cooking.” And since ingredients don’t absorb as much olive oil as other oils, that means that helps you enjoy delicious Chinese dishes without increasing your calorie intake.

As for frying, olive oil’s smoke point is at a higher temperature than other oils, at between 464-518° F, forms a protective layer around the ingredients and produces less carcinogenic compounds. In fact, nutritionists recommend replacing olive oil in Chinese food to cut down on the potential repercussions for recipes that require lots of oil.

Now that we’ve debunked the myth that you can’t use olive oil in Chinese food, what’s the best oil to use? When thinking about how Chinese food is most prepared, it’s better to use a pure olive oil, like La Española Mild & Light, which is well-suited for frying. You can put it in your wok to make a delicious stir-fry. Extra virgin is much harder to adapt for Chinese cuisine.

Now, what dishes are you going to prepare to welcome in the Year of the Dog with La Española Mild & Light Olive Oil?