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Art of Chinese Cookery, The (by Shih)

by: Joan Shih

Silver Spring MD: Joan Shih 2001, $26.95, Hardbound
ISBN: 0-9712869-0-6

Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Fall Volume: 2003 Issue: 10(3) page(s): 27

Self-published by the owner/director of 'The Chinese Cookery school,' this book provides recipes at eight different levels, healthful ones included. The intent is to help with techniques, ingredients, and menu planning. If you live in the capital region, you may recognize the author, a chemist who worked at the National Institutes of Health, and lectured there. She has been on the 'CBS Morning Break Show,' 'NBC's Fred Thomas in the Morning,' 'Eye on Washington,' and 'Cable Fairfax Magazine.' For the rest whose abodes are further afield, perhaps you saw her featured in Travel and Leisure, The Saturday Evening Post, and Newsweek, to name but a few magazines where her articles are published.

This book has eight levels of instruction, the same ones used at her school. Level I is basic, II advanced, and III, IV, and V are Gourmet. Levels VI and VII are Sichuan and Hunan, respectively, VIII is Vegetarian. Most of the levels have five meals. The Basic set begin with Steamed Rice; it ends with Fried Rice. Gourmet III starts with Eight-Treasures Rice Pudding and ends with Peking Duck.

One can sense the author’s enthusiasm and her expertise. Martin Yan wrote an endorsement, he is enthusiastic, too. Anyone following the lessons from beginning to end can become a fine Chinese cook. They will become enthusiastic, too.
Pearl Balls
4 black mushrooms, soaked in very hot water for fifteen minutes
1 Tablespoon finely chopped water chestnuts
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger
1 Tablespoon finely minced scallion
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
1 and 1/2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
dash of ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 and 1/2 pounds lean ground pork
1/2 teaspoon corn or another vegetable oil
1. Soak rice for two hours in two cups of warm water.
2. Squeeze mushrooms of excess water, remove stems and chop the caps.
3. Mix mushrooms with water chestnuts, ginger and scallions and set aside. Then, mix salt, sesame oil, soy sauce, sugar, and black pepper, and set this aside separately.
4. Sprinkle cornstarch on a tray and drain rice and put it evenly over the cornstarch.
5. Mix pork and the soy sauce mixture, then add the mushroom mixture. When thoroughly mixed, shape this mixture into one-inch balls and put them on the tray of rice rolling them, one at a time, until they are covered with the rice. Put the rice-covered balls on an oiled sheet of foil.
6. Put in steamer and steam over rapidly boiling water for forty-five minutes. Remove to a serving plate and garnish, if desired with parsley leaves, then serve.

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