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Invitation to Chinese Cooking

by: Martin Yan

San Francisco CA: Bay Books 1999, $24.95, Paperback
ISBN: 1-57959-504-9

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

'The ultimate introduction to the world’s most popular cuisine' it says on the rear cover. That same location says 'experience the delicious possibilities of Chinese cuisine.' The first comment sells it short, the second gets closer to reality in this latest book by a Certified Master Chef. No stranger to us, Martin Yan gets better and better, book by book, recipe by recipe. Keep them coming, Martin. We appreciate them and do want more, more, more!

Yes, 'Yan Can Cook' as his twice given James Beard award for his television cooking shows attest. You can, too, trying every one of the more than one hundred and thirty-five recipes in this, his latest volume. More than that, you can master fundamentals and fancier techniques not known; and you can experience fun and flavor while so doing. Yan calls this volume a practical guide; I call it an opportunity to make fine Chinese food under the tutelage of an engaging teacher.

With dishes such as Dry Braised Shrimp, Uncle Yan's Secret Meat Sauce (made with any noodle you prefer), Cantonese Style Mussels, Five Flavor Honey Wings, and Corn and Crab Soup, you have a set of tastes and temptations to inspire the laziest of eaters. Martin knows food science, has a master's Degree from University of California-Davis, and knows how to sell savory cooking. His loyal following knows better than most, that with humor and gamesmanship, he teaches more people to enjoy the cuisine consumed by more people world-wide, than anyone else.

He will win your heart and have those at your table smiling when your warm, as he does, to his Rice Sticks with Roast Duck and Baby Bok Choy. His Spicy Ginger Beef with both fresh and pickled ginger can not be beat. The simple dish offers complex tastes and takes less than five minutes to wok-toss. Ask any Chinese restauranteur, almost all will say that Beef and Broccoli is the dish most often served at their place. Make Yan's version and your family will reorder at your place. Perhaps you should serve it with his Snow Peas with Wine Flavored Shrimp and some of Yan's Pickled Vegetables. Those three dishes and rice and there is food fit for an Emperor!

So many of the recipes are sure winners. The book will be, too, even for anyone who hates to cook. The color photographs jump out and say 'try me.' So take up Yan's invitation and be dispelled of any mysteries about the Chinese culinary. Try, taste, and be treated to the foods of a praised cuisine by a praised teacher.
Spicy Ginger Beef
1 Tablespoon dark soy sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 and 1/2 teaspoons corn oil
1/2 pound flank steak, slice thinly on the diagonal
1 and 1/2 Tablespoons corn oil
1/4 cup fresh ginger, cut into thin strips
1/2 each red and green peppers, seeded and sliced thin
1/4 cup sweet pickled ginger, cut into thin strips
1 Tablespoon thin soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1. Mix dark soy sauce, cornstarch, the first corn oil amount, and the beef, and allow to marinate for half an hour.
2. Heat wok, add one tablespoon of the rest of the corn oil and stir-fry the beef until pink, about a minute; then remove it from the wok.
3. Add the remaining oil to the wok, add both gingers and both peppers and stir-fry for one minute. Then return the beef to the pan and stir-fry another minute, then serve.

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