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Intriguing World of Chinese Home Cooking, The

by: Angela Chang

Taipei Taiwan: Life Style Cultural & Media Enterprises Co. Ltd. 2001, Paperback
ISBN: 957-0497-37-8

Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Fall Volume: 2002 Issue: 9(4) page(s): 22 and 23

Subtitled: Cooking Secrets from the Kitchen of Angela Chang, this book is her latest; it includes recipes and tips for making dumplings, noodle and rice dishes, vegetables, meats and seafood, tofu, and Chinese dessert dishes. You will find most of the secrets in the twenty pages preceding the recipes, and be advised that they address issues about cooking and eating Chinese food. For those who still do not understand the protocols and dishes, the cooking tips are very valuable. For afficionados, they are known, and already part of their repertoire. Expert Chinese cooks, do not be fooled, even the recipe for Hot and Sour Soup has a special taste when using her favorite version, spoken about, but not given as an ingredient. Her secret is the inclusion of sea cucumber; and with it she wins over my husband, for sure. That is one of his favorite Chinese foods.

Ms. Chang does simple yet clever enhancements, even for canned chicken broth. She adds a little pork loin and a few spare ribs. Some of the recipes include options, such as the one called Vegetarian Gold Coins. You can use potato or taro as one of the base ingredients along with grated carrots and onions and chopped celery. She suggests freezing these veges in plastic bags and they will be available on a moments notice, we say wait and freeze the baked items half-way through cooking the recipe.

We made them with taro and used Chinese greens instead of celery the second time around. It was not only a huge improvement but a whopping success. We also made a double batch of the coins, froze half, and now can whip up a great appetizer in but five minutes. The Sichuan Cold Noodles are another great company dish, good winter and summer, and better still as there is no need for last minute attention to detail.

Full-page color photographs of completed dishes help in understanding each recipe goal. A glossary of ingredients explains less familiar items and their Chinese characters help when shopping. They are worth photocopying and carrying to a Chinese market. Overall, information throughout the book can be of great value to novice Chinese cooks. It can also entice those who love eating Chinese food. One major flaw does exist, some pictures do not accurately reflect their recipes.
Vegetarian Gold Coins
1 cup grated potatoes or Chinese taro
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
1 egg, beaten
1 cup all purpose flour
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup water chestnut powder or all-purpose flour
1 egg, beaten well
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 cup corn oil
1. Squeeze out excess water from all the grated vegetables, one at a time, then combine them in a large bowl and mix well. Add one egg, cup of flour, tablespoon of sesame oil, and the sugar and mix again.
2. Shape this mixture into balls and put on a greased cookie sheet. Bake then twenty minutes in a pre-heated oven set to 375 degrees Fahrenheit; they will flatten into coins. (They can be frozen after this step and completed after partially defrosting them.)
3. Make batter with the water chestnut powder or a half cup of flour, the second beaten egg, and the teaspoon of sesame oil and set aside until needed. Stir just before using.
4. Heat corn oil and, one at a time, dip a flattened vegetable coin into the batter and into the oil. Do in batches of five to ten at a time. Turn and see that they get to be a light brown on both sides. Then remove and drain and do another batch until all are fried and drained. Serve immediately after frying them.

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