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Introducing Chinese Casserole Cookery

by: Lilah Kan

San Jose CA: Iuniverse.com 2000, $14.95, Paperback
ISBN: 0-595-13528-5

Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Summer Volume: 2001 Issue: 8(2) page(s): 25

For those longing for an out-of-print book, here is good news. Thanks to the author and new publishing techniques, authors can republish their out-of-print books and you can then acquire them. So it is with this popular collection of Chinese casseroles, a book so very successful, now affordable for the author to reprint it. This one comes with a classy colored cover and every delicious page it had before. The only change is in the picture of the author. Young on the title page of the original, now a beautiful mature woman.

The recipes are timeless and should be part of everyone’s repertoire no matter the season. Every meal deserves a wonderfully satisfying Chinese casserole dish. They make light the cook’s efforts in banquet cookery and ease them in every ordinary meal. The author says that “incorporating a few casserole dishes, which can be prepared in advance, will enable the cook to have a dinner party without a nervous breakdown." We would add that to incorporate one of hers brings delicious taste and texture to every meal.

There are two wonderful recipes with chicken wings that can double as appetizers. They are the Deviled Chicken Wings and the Tangy Chicken Wings. The latter has won many plaudits at our dinner parties. So did the Eight Jade Casserole; it is a harmonious mix of shrimp, chicken livers and hearts and gizzards, with squid and barbecued pork. The contents meld and offer fine taste. Those that eat this dish also are lucky because besides its wonderful taste, eight and jade are considered lucky by the Chinese.

Various sand-pot crockery containers grace the cover of this re-publication; they levitate around the author. The contents raise appreciation of culinary talent and help prepare the wonderful recipes. Try these pleasers: the Spareribs in Red Bean Curd Cheese Sauce, and the Plum Sauce Chicken with Black Mushrooms and Pine Nuts, and others. The index does not make it easy to locate every recipe as word order is sometimes changed, as in the above-mentioned chicken dish. Nonetheless, do find and try them and many others; and do find the website that sells this book; it is www.iuniverse.com
Plum Sauce Chicken with Mushrooms and Pine Nuts
3 Tablespoons corn oil
1 two-pound chicken cut into about twenty to twenty-four small pieces
6 shiitake mushrooms, soaked a half hour in a cup of warm water
1 Tablespoons thin soy sauce
2 Tablespoons dry sherry
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 cloves garlic, peeled and flattened with side of the cleaver
1 slice fresh ginger, flattened with the side of the cleaver
1/2 cup of the mushroom soaking liquid
1/2 cup plum sauce
2 Tablespoons catsup
3 dried chili peppers, cut in half
2 whole star anise
1 medium onion, cut into one-quarter-inch slices
1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 1 teaspoon cold water
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1. Heat oil in a wok and brown the chicken, one-quarter of it at a time. Drain and set aside until all the pieces are browned on all sides.
2. Put the soy sauce, sherry, sugar, garlic, ginger, mushroom water, plum sauce, catsup, chili peppers, and star anise into a casserole and slowly heat the contents.
3. While that is cooking, fry the onion in the wok, then the mushrooms. Add chicken and onions and mushrooms to the casserole and mix well.
4. Cover the casserole and simmer for forty-five minutes mixing the contents once or twice. Uncover and discard the ginger and stir in the pre-stirred cornstarch-water mixture and cook for a few minutes until slightly thickened.
5. Stir in the pine nuts and the sesame oil, mix well, and serve.

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