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Delightful Chinese Cooking

by: Eng Tie Ang

Seattle WA: Ambrosia Publications 1999, $13.95, Paperback
ISBN: 0-9627810-6-1


Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Spring Volume: 2000 Issue: 7(1) page(s): 19 and 20

Born in Indonesia of Chinese parents, Eng Tai Ang now lives in the state of Washington. Educated in Brazil and now living and teaching in Seattle, she shares traditional Chinese recipes that are as varied as China itself. She is no novice author. She has published other books, they are about tofu, Vietnamese, Brazilian, and Thai cookery, even one titled: The Chinese Lantern Festival.

On the back cover, this book is touted as 'Authentic, Quick, and Easy.' That is mostly true for the more than one hundred forty recipes gleaned from all over China. Actually, they are no idle set of recipes, rather they are traditional in taste but developed with less fat and oil, fewer eggs, and reduced amounts of salt and MSG.

Ms Eng, as she is called by her students, starts off designing condiments and sauces that you can make at home including three different vegetable pickles, black bean, garlic, ginger, hot hoisin, hoisin with tomato, plum sauce, sweet and sour sauce, and more. For those who want them less salty, this is a great idea, and the ones we tested were very good.

Eight chapters follow this one and range from Appetizers and Snacks to Desserts. There are line drawings of cleaning squid, filling and wrapping wontons, shelling and removing veins from the shrimp, and wrapping spring rolls. There are six quick and easy three-item menus and nine equal-size vegetarian menus. There is also a handful of elegant longer menu suggestions, a list of essential ingredients for stocking a Chinese kitchen, a glossary, and an index.

The author lists eight recipes as her favorites, and we prepared half of them. The Hot Mustard Sauce required four ingredients including sesame oil and vinegar. Both were excellent additions for tanginess and aroma; both items we will use when wanting them again. It was clear why Almond Chicken Salad was her favorite but why it was included among traditional Chinese recipes remains a puzzle. The Chicken Spring Rolls were a snap to prepare, their extra long instructions allowed no error, not even for a novice or one who never saw a spring roll before. The Candied Bananas were delicious and healthier than most. Egg whites instead of whole eggs did that for the latter, light beer and Grand Marnier for the former.

This book is easy to use, no recipe takes more than a page, some only a half, and the type is comfortably large, each ingredient list emboldened. In most recipes it is OK to have the preparation in one paragraph, but in one recipe, it did drive me nuts. That was in the Chicken in a Bird's Nest. Though terrific and tasty, the sixteen ingredients and thirty-four line method were a mite more than quick or easy, particularly in her one-method-paragraph part.

Would like to call your attention to several winning recipes. The Pickled Broccoli Stalks is one. Another is the Scallops with Asparagus. Two soups are also in the 'you must try them' category. We did adore the Oxtail Soup and the Spinach Soup with Soy Bean Paste. For those who can barbecue during all seasons, do try the Peppered Barbecued Chicken. For others, you are in for a treat come spring. Enjoy the Chicken with Lotus Salad, it is perfect and piquant; another great goodie!
Hot Mustard Sauce
Ingredients:
6 Tablespoons English dry mustard powder
6 Tablespoons water
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
Preparation:
1. Stir the mustard powder and water and let rest for two minutes. The more this is stirred, the stronger up to a point, the mixture becomes.
2. Add the vinegar and sesame oil and stir well, then serve.

                                                                                                                                                       
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