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Healthy Cooking with Vegetarian Principles

by: Hong, Yimlong and Hong, Yinquo

Taipei Taiwan: Culture & Life Publishing Co. 2001 , Hardbound
ISBN: Various

Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Fall Volume: 2004 Issue: 11(3) page(s): 19

This is a series of nine books, their individual titles, copyright dates, and ISBN numbers follow:

1. Vegetarian Home Cooking © 2001; ISBN 957-630-644-2
2. Vegetarian Feast © 2003; ISBN 957-630-676-0
3. Soups & Congees the Vegetarian Way © 2002; ISBN 957-630-656-6
4. Vegetarian Cold Delights © 2003; ISBN 9570630-678-7
5. Noodles & Rice the Vegetarian Way © 2002; ISBN 957-630-652-3
6. Vegetarian Treats © 2003; ISBN 957-630-672-X
7. A Passion for Vegetarian Desserts © 2004; ISBN 957-630-685-X
8. Medicinal Cuisine for Better Health © 2003; ISBN 957-630-674-4
9. The Power of Veggie & Fruit Juice © 2002; ISBN 957-630-664-7

For reasons not clear, they were not published in numeric order; also they advise there will be a tenth, it has yet to be published, and there maybe more.

Every book, written in Chinese and English, begins with a recommendation. Several are by the host of Eastern Broadcasting’s Shih Chuan Shih Mei program where many of these recipes were first aired and shared. Others are by doctors, teachers, research and development directors, the chairman of a Taiwan gourmet association, and a Dean of a Chinese medical clinic.

Every recipe by the two Hong brothers lists ingredients and seasoning items, numbers the steps in its method, and has a color photograph of the completed dish. The recipes in Volumes 8 and 9 have each recipe's Chinese medicinal function, i.e.: clarifies lungs and supplements spleen and stomach.

Each volume has pictures of their vegetarian ingredients shown on two to four pages; they are titled in Chinese and English. Tote the book to an Asian market, or photocopy those pages and shopping is a breeze. Seeing these items, vendors and customers can be very helpful, as needed. On one book-in-hand trip, I created a bit of a stir seeking an item. Every Chinese customer and clerk wanted to know where they could purchase the book. Told then we ordered ours from the Ming Fay Bookstore at 42 Mott Street in New York City's Chinatown.

The Hong brothers are Buddhist chefs. They own the Fa Hua Vegetarian Restaurant in Taiwan and appear on radio and television where they teach and preach the value of eating vegetarian food at home and everywhere. They add Chinese medicinal ingredients to many of their dishes as a means to a healthier life. Most are readily available, but one that is not can be made at home. It is mushroom powder, and we now make our own taking the dried shiitake mushrooms we grow and a scissor. We cut them into small pieces, put them in a coffee grinder, turn it on, and then have mushroom powder. The medicinal items in Volume 8 and Volume 9 may need a trip to a Chinese herbalist, or the use of an Asian website.

Many recipes are new and different approaches to common foods, as are the noodle and rice recipes in Volume 5. Others are easy to do and offer great changes from the ordinary. There are new ways to make these starches, several tofu dishes, and other culinary treats. With more people opting for some or all meals vegetarian, these books offer worthwhile ways to vary anyone’s vegetarian diet.

The recipes below are one each from Volumes 2, 4, and 5.
Vegetarian Kidney with Celery
10 thick shiitake mushrooms soaked for twenty minutes in warm water
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 cup corn oil
1 stalk celery, Chinese preferred, minced
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 Tablespoon rock sugar, crushed
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder
1 teaspoon catsup
1. Score the mushrooms on their top surface, in both directions. Be careful not to cut all they way through them. Remove the stems from the mushrooms with a scissor, then squeeze out excess water.
2. Dip the mushrooms in cornstarch and be sure to coat them down in the scored places. Then roll each mushroom like a cigar, scored side out. Set aside for ten minutes until the cornstarch wets itself.
3. Heat the oil and fry the mushrooms cigars until golden, then remove with a slotted spoon and put them on two or three paper towels to drain. Oil blanch the celery in the same oil, and drain it. Set the oil aside for a future use. 4. Mix soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, five spice powder, and catsup.
5. Return the mushrooms to the wok or pan and dry-fry for half a minute, then add celery and toss well, and then the soy sauce mixture. Mix for half to one minute, then remove to a platter or bowl, and serve.
Five-flavored Tofu
1 pound firm tofu, cut into squares, and set on paper towels for five minutes
1 cup corn oil
1 Tablespoon minced basil
1 Tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 Tablespoon minced sweet red bell pepper
1 Tablespoon fresh coriander, minced
1 Tablespoon celery, minced
1 Tablespoon black vinegar
1 Tablespoon vegetarian oyster sauce
1 teaspoon sugar or corn syrup
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
1 Tablespoon catsup
1. Remove tofu to new dry paper towels and let set another five minutes.
2. Heat oil and deep fry the tofu in three or four batches. Drain well, and set in a paper-towel-lined serving bowl. Repeat until all are fried and golden in color.
3. Mix all the rest of the ingredients, and heat in a small pot until boiling. Remove the paper towel gently so as not to break the tofu apart, and pour the multi-ingredient sauce over the tofu and serve.
Eight Treasure Mixed-grain Rice
1 cup of five different rice grains, such as short grain, long grain, brown rice, red rice, black rice, etc.
1 teaspoon corn oil
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
10 whole walnuts
2 candied tangerines or apricots
20 to 30 fresh green peas
1. Mix the different rice grains well. Add sugar, oil, and salt and put into a rice cooker. Stir, and cook until done.
2. Grease a deep bowl with the oil and then line the bottom with walnuts, outside part to the outside, tangerine pieces, and the peas. Do so decoratively.
3. Prepare a steamer and have the water boiling by the time the rice cooker turns itself off. Then carefully spoon rice into the bowl on top of the walnuts, tangerines, and peas.
4. Put bowl into the steamer, cover, and steam for ten minutes (if you like very soft rice, leave it in the steamer for fifteen minutes. Take bowl out, and turn the contents over onto a large plate, and serve.

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