Stir frying is an umbrella term used to describe two techniques for cooking food in a wok while stirring it: chǎo (炒) and bào (爆).
The chao technique is similar to the Western technique of sautéing. A traditional round-bottom cast iron or carbon steel pan called a wok is heated to a high temperature. A small amount of cooking oil is then poured down the side of the wok (a traditional expression in China regarding this is “hot wok, cold oil”), followed by dry seasonings (including ginger and garlic), then at the first moment the seasonings can be smelled, meats are added and agitated. Once the meat is seared, vegetables along with liquid ingredients (for example often including premixed combinations of soy sauce, vinegar, wine, salt, sugar, and cornstarch) are added. The wok then may be covered for a moment so the water in the liquid ingredients can warm up the new ingredients as it steams off.
The wok is heated to a dull red glow. With the wok hot, the oil, seasonings, and meats are added in rapid succession with no pause in between. The food is continually tossed, stopping for several seconds only to add other ingredients such as various seasonings, broths, or vegetables.