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Chinese Cooking for Dummies

by: Martin Yan

Foster City CA: IDG Books 2000, $19.95, Paperback
ISBN: 0-7645-5247-3

Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Summer Volume: 2001 Issue: 8(2) page(s): 24

The slogan ‘Get Smart’ is tucked at the bottom of the rear cover. If you use this book, your knowledge about Chinese food will make you just that because it valuable and not for dummies at all. Actually, that would be anyone’s fate who fails to use it.

Mary Ann Esposito, host of PBS’ Ciao Italian says “the recipes are simple and authentic.” Sara Moulton, food editor of Good Morning America and host of the Food Network, says “Martin Yan blows away fears” and by the end of the book "you will not only be able to cook Chinese cuisine with confidence and pleasure, you will be able to cook virtually anything.”

Yan has hosted more than fifteen hundred television cooking shows, written more than fifteen Chinese cookbooks, and been showcased in at least ten others, and he has taught all over the world. He has become a very fine master of his craft and when you use this volume you will, too. If you fear cooking, get initiated away from the wok; just read his first eighty pages. They are an education in and of themselves. Then get your wok or frypan wet, bite the bullet, and try any or all of the recipes.

His Tea-flavored Eggs are better than other egg-recipes we have made; so is his Soy Sauce Chicken. We also liked his Shanghai Meatballs, and his Tofu and Spinach, and his Beef Chow Fun. In addition, we adore his Ten Martin-tested Resources for Chinese Cuisine and Culture. In them, he reported our parent organization and this magazine as "a group at the top of its game in reporting accurate and informative information." That tasted pretty good, too. Martin Yan's seriousness coupled with his sense of humor should eliminate any culinary qualms. The recipe chapter titles may prompt a giggle as they include: Crying Fowl: Poultry Recipes, Moo-ve In and Pig Out My Little Lambs: Beef, Pork and Lamb, and Healthy Tofu and Eggscellent Ideas. The recipes are all serious and easy-to-make; they are fine examples of clarity and good taste. Many are so easy a nine-year-old can make them; and we know of one who did!

Child or adult, read sentences before each recipe, note preparation and cooking times, gather the needed ingredients, measure them, and marvel at your success. The recipes are loaded with helpful hints and ideas that can improve your cooking, Chinese and all other. Let us assure you that the only dummy we know of is the one who does not enjoy yet another Martin Yan cookbook, this one!
Tea-flavored Eggs
8 eggs
1/4 cup dark soy sauce
3 Tablespoons thin soy sauce
3 scallions, minced
4 slices fresh ginger
3 Tablespoons black tea leaves
3 Tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon five-spice powder
2 whole star anise
1. Place eggs in a two-quart pot, cover with cold water, and simmer them for ten minutes. Then cool them under cold running water and gently tap each one with a spoon until hairline cracks form all over the entire shell. Do not peel them.
2. Return the eggs to the pot along with the remaining ingredients and enough cold water to cover them. Simmer on low heat for forty-five minutes, remove from the heat and cool in the cooking liquid for an hour, then refrigerate in the liquid overnight.
3. Remove the shells and leave whole or cut the eggs into quarters and serve.

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