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Kylie Kwong Recipes and Stories

by: Kylie Kwong

Camberwell Australia: Viking Penguin Group 2003, Paperback
ISBN: 0-670-91118-6

Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Winter Volume: 2003 Issue: 10(4) page(s): 27

Extensive research by six Kwong family members are the source of fantastic tales of Great-grandfather Kwong Sue Duk and other family members. Her great-grandfather's descendants number close to eight hundred and they span five generations. Theirs may be the largest Chinese family tree in Australia. Afterall, this is by a twenty-ninth generation Kwong, and a cookbook written by the first daughter of the fifth son of the third wife. It includes her recipes and those from other relatives.

Should you wonder about the size of the Kwong clan, be advised that its Australian founder had four wives and twenty-four children. He came, lured by the promise of gold, to Cooktown, North Queensland in 1875. Later he set up a business, acquired many rental properties, and practiced herbal medicine before he died at age seventy-six in 1929.

Kylie is no stranger to recipes and cooking. In the year 2000, she and partner Bill Granger opened a restaurant on Crown Street, Surrey Hills, in Sidney. Now she owns it solo, is super-enthusiastic about it and super enthusiastic in it. Still, she found time to write this cookbook. Her wishes for readers, staff, and customers is her philosophyand the spirit of her family, namely: lots of love for food. She believes it nurtures and nourishes. Reading her one hundred seventy-eight-page book does, too.

Black and white and color photographs introduce family and food. They are the reality and the essence of the seventy-seven recipes and the tales about them. Most are hers, all are flavorful, and many show adaptations to the Kwong's new homeland. A few of the forty-seven glossary items do, too.

The Crispy-skin Chicken with Black Vinegar and Shallot Dressing uses her White Cooked Chicken recipe that appears a few pages before it. Both are super and the chicken is succulent. We wish we could eat her Steamed Pacific Oysters with Ginger and Shallots, and we will when we get to visit her homeland. They read as though they are heavenly.

Breakfast on Mrs. Jang's Home-style Fried Eggs or the Stir-fried Omelette with Prawns, Garlic Chives, and Fresh Tomato Sauce can be heaven in any country. An above-it-all lunch is tasting Uncle Jimmy's Fresh Egg Noodle Salad. And, an up-there dinner is that oyster recipe made with plump oysters and followed by Crispy-skin Pigeon with Sichuan Pepper. Add to it the Salt or Red-cooked Pork Hok along with Stir-fried Calamari with Garlic, Celery, and Shallots, some Braised Dried Chinese Mushrooms, and Choy Sum with Oyster Sauce, and a plate of Stir-fried Chicken Livers with Green Capsicum, Prawns, and Home-made Pickles; what a meal you will have.

This book celebrates cultural and culinary diversity as do many Chinese families these days. Appreciate her rich family and their diversified Chinese foods. Look at them and see a link to Australia's Chinese heritage. Taste the foods that fed this close family in the past and binds them together today. Tales about Kylie, her relatives, and their food deserve your attention; they certainly got mine.
Crispy-skin Chicken with BlackVinegar and Shallot
3 cups Chinese rice wine
6 shallots, peeled and trimmed
12 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 and 1/2 cups ginger slivers
4 Tablespoons sea salt
1 three to four pound chicken
1 quart corn oil
2 Tablespoons peanut oil
2 Tablespoons finely chopped scallion tops
1/8 teaspoon ground Sichuan pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
For the sauce:
1/3 cup finely sliced shallots
1/3 cup finely sliced ginger
1/3 cup finely sliced fresh coriander stems
1/3 cup kecap manis
1/3 cup thin soy sauce
1/3 cup black vinegar
1/2 teaspoon chili oil
1/4 cup sesame oil
1. Put six cups of water into a very large pot and add wine, shallots, garlic, ginger slivers, and sea salt. Bring to the boil and quickly lower the heat and simmer this stock for fifteen minutes.
2. Put chicken in the stock and simmer fourteen minutes, then remove pot from the heat and allow chicken to sit in it for one hour, then drain and refrigerate the chicken, very lightly covered for two hours or overnight to dry the skin. Cut chicken in half.
3. Heat the oil and lower one half chicken, breast side down. Into the oil. Deep fry it for five minutes, spooning oil over any part not submerged in oil. Drain on paper towels and fry the second half, also for five minutes. Chop each half into seven or eight pieces and put them on to a deep serving plate.
4. Make sauce by just mixing the ingredients together. Pour this over the fried chicken pieces.
5. Heat the peanut oil in a small pot. Pour this over the chicken, as well. Then garnish with greens, pepper, and salt, and serve.

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