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Chinese Home Entertaining

by: Angela Chang

Taipei Taiwan: Culture and Life Publishing Company 2000, Paperback
ISBN: 957-576-4


Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Fall Volume: 2000 Issue: 7(3) page(s): 20

With six celebrations, each its own chapter, enjoy making a Fire Pot Party, Holiday Dinner Party, Chinese New Year Party, Dumpling Party, Summer Outdoor Feast, or Hospitality Gourmet Food Box. Try one or enjoy any of the more than sixty recipes at any other meal. All are easy to make, written with lots of detail, and from the color photographs and final results, you will salivate and enjoy.

In this book, the author refers to home cooked dishes as 'lighter and less greasy, but with no sacrifice of flavor' and she says that 'home dishes have a greater variety of flavors, textures, and color combinations than restaurant cooking.' This, her third cookbook, is subtitled: The Intriguing World of Cooking. Intrigued you will be when you learn that translations in this bilingual volume are not literal but 'with consideration for different cultural backgrounds.'

That said, it is intriguing and helpful to know there are more detailed descriptions in English. One such, a cleverly tucked suggestion in the method, for Egg Dumplings in Emerald Ring, advises to prevent the egg crepe from breaking by dissolving one tablespoon of cornstarch in an equal amount of water and add this to the beaten egg; it works! Another, in Triple Crispy Salad, instructs on how to best use shredded jellyfish already prepared in bags; its advise is another success. There are ever so many others, just reading recipes is an exercise in culinary education.

There are wonderful recipes along with the wonderful ideas. The West Lake Beef Soup–meat is made wonderfully tender by soaking in vinegar. The Wine Cured Chicken uses pressed peppercorns to provide additional flavor in the curing. In the great Sauteed Wontons, their sauce is redolent of Sichuan peppercorns.

Vegetarians will adore her version of Buddhist Delight seasoned with red fermented tofu and sa cha sauce. Need calcium, then try Crispy Chicken Red Bean Dumplings with pumpkin pie filling, sour cream, milk, and egg. Have excess ham after a holiday? Delight in a new flavor, use it with ginger, orange juice, and chicken broth. Love duck but would love to make it healthier? Braised Duck made with cabbage, spinach, star anise is ever so fat-reduced but still flavorful.

Clearly those who saw the book at a signing at a Borders book store knew to scoop it up. One person there bought sixteen copies for family and friends. Wonder how many were bought at a later signing at Barnes and Noble, and one later still at the World Journal Bookstore in Flushing’s Chinatown area? This book, published in Taiwan by a native now living in New Jersey will be a hit. Can easily see why, the recipe for Braised Chicken with Walnuts is one reason. Following a clue from an article in the issue of tis magazine called Sandpot Cookery, it is even better when made in that piece of equipment than in an ordinary casserole.
Braised Chicken with Chestnuts I
Ingredients:
1/2 pound chestnuts
2 Tablespoons baking soda
12 chicken drumsticks, chopped or left whole, as desired
4 Tablespoons corn oil
3 Tablespoons Chinese rice wine
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 medium onion cut into wedges
8 shiitake mushrooms, soaked half an hour, stems removed
3 slices fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, lightly smashed with side of a cleaver
2 star anise
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 scallions, cut into one-inch pieces
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
dash ground white pepper, or to taste
Preparation:
1. Soak chestnuts overnight in baking soda and water to cover. Drain, rinse three or more times, then drain again.
2. Put two tablespoons each of the rice wine and the soy sauce and marinate the chicken for ten minutes and remove, saving the marinade.
3.Heat oil and saute the onion until soft then remove it to a dish. In remaining oil in the wok or pan, saute ginger, garlic, and star anise just until hot then add the chicken and stir-fry for ten minutes. Discard any oil remaining in the pan.
4. Add all of the other ingredients including the reserved marinade, cover and simmer for twenty minutes. Or, you can put this in a sandpot, heat the liquid but do not bring to the boil, and simmer for thirty minutes, then serve.

                                                                                                                                                       
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