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Everything Chinese Gourmet, The

by: Rhonda Lauret Parkinson

Avon MA: Adams Media Corporation 2003, $14.95, Paperback
ISBN: 1-58062-954-7

Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Winter Volume: 2003 Issue: 10(4) page(s): 29 and 30

Subtitled: From Wonton Soup to Sweet-and-Sour Chicken-–300 Succulent Recipes from the Far East, this volume says it provides no lengthy list of ingredients in a single recipe. Not sure what the author’s definition of lengthy is, but a few do have fourteen or fifteen items needed to make them.

The first chapter is a series of questions and answers titled ‘Let’s Get Started.’ They are a wonderful beginning and they clarify many basic queries folks have about Chinese food. The next one is about dipping sauces, then it is on to Asian Appetizers and Dim Sum, Soups and Salads, Rice and Noodles, etc. ending with a chapter about Desserts and Snacks.

In the third chapter, one recipe called Gift Wrap Beef needs attention. She wraps, but means marinates her beef with oyster sauce and a quarter teaspoon baking soda. This is a modern no-no because soda destroys the B vitamin called thiamin. Chapter Four’s Soups and Salads runs the gamut from Bird’s Nest Soup that uses four ounces of this wonderful though expensive Chinese ingredient to Chinese Potato Salad that mixes in three tablespoons of mayonnaise.

Every recipe has a side-box with a small hint and most have a paragraph under them that provide excellent additional material. The twelfth and final chapter is our favorite. All thirty of her desserts and snacks should go on everyone’s short list of things to make. The Poached Asian Pears are done with cranberry juice, a very creative idea. The Steamed Apples with Honey will flip out the kids, as will the Sweet Baked Pineapple and Banana. We recommend serving the Bowties for Kids with either or both, then call the dentist because the latter has a whole cup of brown sugar. Actually, adults will prefer the Bowties for Adults, they only have a quarter of a cup of powdered sugar. Kids at our tester table liked them, too.

The Appendices include seven menu suggestions, a Glossary of Asian Ingredients, and a good cross-referenced Index. All are very good ways to end this Canadian lady’s Chinese cookbook. She clearly knows what most people want in Chinese recipes and she provides that. She knows because she has been the 'Chinese Cuisine Guide' at www.About.com since 1998. Her recipes run the gamut from modern Hong Kong style as the Chinese Potato Salad is, to more typical foods found in local restaurants and take-out places lk the Beef with Peppers, to very upscale Chinese restaurants serving authentic Chinese food when making Bird's Nest Soup.
Chinese Potato Salad
4 potatoes, about one pound
2 eggs
3 Tablespoons mayonnaise
1 and 1 half Tablespoons soy sauce
1 and a half teaspoons chopped cilantro leaves
3/4 teaspoon hot mustard sauce (See note below)
3/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon plus a few drops sesame oil
1 cup shredded napa cabbage
1/3 cup chopped red onion
1. Boil potatoes until almost soft, then peel them bite-sized squares.
2. Hard cook the eggs, about fifteen minutes, and peel and slice them. Peel and slice the eggs.
3. Mix mayonnaise, soy sauce, cilantro, mustard sauce, and sugar then stir in sesame oil.
4. Mix potatoes, eggs, cabbage, and red onion then mix in the mayonnaise mixture. Serve or keep in a sealed container until ready to do so.
Note: For the Hot Mustard Sauce, mix one teaspoon dry mustard powder, one teaspoon rice vinegar, one-quarter teaspoon brown sugar, one teaspoon corn oil, and three drops of sesame oil.

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