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Chinese Renal Kitchen

by: B.C. Chinese Nutrition Consultants

Vancouver British Columbia, Canada: Renal Department of St. Paul's Hospital 1998, $25.00, Spiralbound
ISBN: 0-9682870-0-X


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

Tasting recipes as I read them, I knew that this cookbook for people living with and needing a special diet for kidney problems was a winner. So convinced was I that I put it to the ultimate test. I made an entire banquet for several restaurant reviewers and a few other 'foodie' friends using only recipes from those in this renal kitchen selection.

Must confess that I did cheat on a trio of ingredients, more because they were not in the house than any other reason. I used regular and not low sodium soy sauce but did use low sodium dehydrated bouillon. And, I did not use protein powder nor dry milk.

All of us were impressed with the results. The guests did not know when we were eating that these were especially healthy recipes for a population that often needs to omit or limit foods. They just ate and enjoyed; a few ate more than a patient on dialysis should. They enjoyed seconds and even thirds; no kidney patient should do that. My healthy guests with fine-tuned palates kept advising that these were especially tasty recipes. Near the end of the dinner they learned that the dishes just eaten were intended for those with special dietary requirements.

The recipes I served included a complex set of appetizers made from memory and not the book; they used seaweed, tofu, pigeon and one hundred day-old eggs, pickled ginger root, and a melange of vegetables. All other appetizers were items from the book; they included Sweet Pickled Daikon, Chilled Chicken Wings, and Ginger Chicken Wings.

Main courses were all from the book, and included Egg Wrap (around pork, shiitake mushrooms, and vegetables), Apple and Chicken Stir-Fry, Beef Rolls (the meat wrapped around carrots, celery, red and green peppers, and shiitake mushrooms), Stir-Fried Shrimps with Pear, Chicken and Wine Hot Pot, Winter Melon on Clouds served over Winter Melon with Nira (Chinese chives), Silver Pin Noodles with Shredded Chicken, and Agar Pudding made with ice cream instead of the recommended protein powder and milk substitute.

This book begins with the why's of a special diet, special needs for kidney patients, how to use the cookbook, and useful tips for cooking. It ends with metric and abbreviation details, dietary limits for people with kidney disease, recipe and nutrient analysis information, and sodium and potassium levels for some foods and condiments. There is also a page of six book resources, and a recipe index. Except for the book's last page, everything is in Chinese and English and in large type. Also, all measurements are Imperial and metric measures; no correction nor detail needed for those living in the United States.

Clearly, this book should not be limited to people on special diets. Frankly, I was overjoyed when it arrived because within its pages was a recipe I had broken many a dozen eggs trying to make. The Winter Melon on Clouds is a dish I ate many years earlier in Suzhou but that I could not, until this attempt, be replicated in my home. I served it on another of the book's recipes: Winter Melon with Nira. This attempt brought success! Might add that everyone proclaimed it one fantastic dish. They were right, it certainly was light, tempting, and unbelievably tasty. Have already made it once since and it will have a regular place in my repertoire.

Incidentally, this book can be ordered for $25.00 plus $8.00 shipping (in Canadian dollars) from Ms. Sandy Porter at St. Paul's Hospital, Nutrition Services. The address is 1081 Burrard Street, Vancouver BC V6Z 1Y6, Canada.
Winter Melon with Nira
Ingredients:
1 Tablespoon corn oil
1/4 teaspoon each minced fresh ginger, garlic, and shallots
1 Tablespoon dried shrimp, soaked for ten minutes, then drained and minced
12 ounces winter melon, peeled and seeded and cut into two-inch squares
1/2 teaspoon rice wine
1 teaspoon low sodium bouillon
1/2 teaspoon low sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 Tablespoon corn oil
1 bunch Chinese nira or chives (about one-quarter pound)
1 hot chili pepper, seeded and minced
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with one tablespoon cold water
Preparation:
1. Heat the corn oil and fry the garlic, ginger, shallots, and dried shrimp for half a minute.
2.Add the wintermelon, wine, bouillon, soy sauce, sugar and one tablespoon of water. Cover and simmer for ten minutes, then uncover, remove from the heat, and set aside.
3. Heat the remaining oil and stir-fry the nira and the chili pepper for one minute before adding the winter melon mixture.
4. Stir the cornstarch mixture, add it, and stir until the sauce thickens, then serve.

                                                                                                                                                       
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