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Blissful Cooking

by: Martin Yan

Singapore : InnoForn Media Pte. Ltd. 2001, Spiralbound
ISBN: 981-04-3938-5

Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Summer Volume: 2002 Issue: 9(2) page(s): 18 and 20

This spiral book in a hard cover is in a box with five CD’s and a pair of chopsticks. Together, they are locked with three velcro tabs under Martin Yan’s smile. The book says it is a 'Full Colour Step By Step Cookbook' that teaches and entertains. It does so in three parts: Asian Delights, Simple Pleasures, and Exquisite Joys.

Yan, an enthusiastic Chinese TV and in-person cooking teacher, is showman, ambassador, and an excellent salesman of Chinese cuisine. The recipe book is in Chinese and English. It and the CD’s, offer his enthusiasm for recipes that are Chinese and others--some of the best of East/West cuisine.

We offer kudos to him, his staff, and the photographer(s); and special thanks to the food stylists and others who creatively designed so many details including wonderful tips placed in small boxes at the bottom of most pages. The culinary hints are appropriate to one or more ingredients and they help novices handle unfamiliar things. They also assist sophisticates and old hands as they learn new tricks.

Some recipes are very special. For example, the Shao Mai, creatively positioned, one to a plate, each on its own crisp lettuce leaf sitting pretty. You will be standing tall when your guests bite into them. We adore the one where the outside is a beancurd sheet, and not wonton dough. That texture raises dim sum to banquet height. The Taro Cakes are the best in the business. Martin pre-prepares one ingredient in the microwave, pays them more attention in a steamer, and finishes them off in the wok. This three-part preparation gives a hundred-fold pleasure. The Grilled Eggplant with Savory Mushrooms are another multiple culinary technique, this one grilling and sauteing for a texture and taste finale that might bring the house down. Only the Paper-baked Fish disappoints. Its picture is out of focus, its flavor out of sorts.

Yuan Tang Shrimp and the Shark’s Fin Mushroom Chowder recipes and dozens of others make many other goodies. When asking my family what they might like, bet my hubby would vote for the Beef Brisket with Achar or the Fragrant Lamb Chops with Vegetables. Both outstanding entries. My son might go for the Golden Melon Treasure, his wife votes for Silk Melon with Crabmeat, and a son-in-law would request the Beer-flavored Lamb Stew. As to the grandchildren, one teen would request Quail with Fermented Bean Curd, while the others would holler for the Pan-seared Fillet with Spicy Sauce. As for yours truly, I say my favorite is, hands down, the Mushroom with Preserved Eggs and the Three Layered Custard. When we put them all together, you have a phenomenal Banquet that proves Yan really can cook! Makethis meal, be thrilled with the ease of preparation, the pleasure of the diners, too!

Acquisition of this book may require contacting the publisher by e-mail at: innoform@magix.com.sg or writing to them at 221 Henderson Building, Singapore 159557. And Martin, tell your fans that they should not miss this goody!
Grilled Eggplant with Savory Mushrooms
1 large eggplant, cut into three equally thick slices, from stem to end
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 Tablespoon corn oil
1 can abalone mushrooms, drained
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup seasoned or regular rice vinegar
1/4 cup rice wine
1 Tablespoon oyster sauce
1. Season eggplant slices with salt and pepper, then brush with the oil.
2. Mix mushrooms and the five remaining seasonings and simmer over low heat until almost all the liquid is absorbed. Stir often.
3. While that is cooking, grill the eggplant slices over medium heat for four minutes per side or until the eggplant is tender, not overly soft.
4. Put eggplant on a platter and pour mushrooms over it.

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