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My Shanghai

by: Sandy Lam

Singapore : Times Editions-Marshall Cavendish 2004, Hardbound
ISBN: 981-232-832-7

Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Spring Volume: 2006 Issue: 13(1) page(s): 25 and 26

Successful recording artist, Ms. Sandy Lam is a smash in musicals, sings the theme song in Les Miserables in Chinese in Shanghai, has sell-out concerts in Hong Kong, collaborates with the Hong Kong Philharmonic, etc. Here, she authors a fascinating cookbook subtitled: Through Tastes and Memories. It helps you wander through her birthplace city with her eyes and her tastebuds.

Enjoy her recipes and those of Jerome Leung, Paul Hsu, Susumu Fukui, Qian Shixian, and her Shanghai Uncle Li. They mix with early and more recent family and personal pictures, perhaps fifty-fifty, and they are beautiful.

Not all the recipes are Chinese, though most are. The ones I made, or those a friend prepared and I tasted, were wonderful. The stories before and between them fascinate. They bring back memories of my favorite Chinese city. Some tastes are special there. We experienced them before and more recently, and we recommend you go and delight in them, too.

I could almost inhale this book's wafted aromas, nearly taste its memorable meals. Lam's visual and verbal images bring old and new Shanghai to life. Her recipe contributors add variety and value. I particularly liked Chef Qian Shixian's comment saying "If it can be done in one step, do it in one, not two." That needs heeding by pros and amateurs alike. His crabmeat with Tofu is an almost one step illustration of how great and easy fine culinary marriages can be. What may or may not be super is Madam He Shuiying’s twenty-year-old dumpling emporium, that was run with her husband. It has to be different now as the couple is in semi-retirement. Their daughter now runs Jiajia Tang Bao Dian, and we are told that the lines are longer than ever. Use the recipe provided; it can shorten them.

Crabmeat with Tofu, not a dumpling, but a casserole is simple and simply yummy. Pork Chops with Potatoes are terrific. Snow Cabbage with Green Soy Beans and Beancurd Sheets are something noodle-lovers can lust for. These are among the fifteen recipes that are Sandy's. There are others by those named Leung, Qian, Hsu, Susumu, and Uncle Li. Never mind; delight in reading about Lam's food life and culinary Shanghai. And do try to prepare some of the book's tastes; they can titillate.
Crabmeat with Tofu
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons crabmeat, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon millet or rice wine
1/3 pound tofu, diced
1 Tablespoon chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon salt mixed with one tablespoon cornstarch
ground white pepper, to taste
1. Heat a wok, add the oil, and after half minute, quickly fry the crabmeat and stir-fry just for a minute.
2. Add wine, tofu, and the stock and simmer for two minutes.
3. Add salt-cornstarch mixture, and stir in. Then put it in a preheated bowl, add the pepper, stir, and serve.

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