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Magic of Lu, The

by: Angela Cheng

Taipei Taiwan: Sanyau Books 2006, $320.00, Paperback
ISBN: 986-7997-99-9

Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Winter Volume: 2007 Issue: 14(4) page(s): 20

Lu is known as a master sauce. In this book, called a stock, its uniqueness in the Chinese culinary is spelled out. Having some in your refrigerator, means boiling it every four or five days, a task worth the effort. The book talks about making it, and details how to keep it. It explains the value of it when aged; and that it is used and reused. As an aromatic and delicious base, it is used in so many different ways be it red or clear-based, and added to any or many a dish.

Never had one? Directions are detailed and culinary uses explored with many spices. The picture shown here shows thirteen of them. Words in the book advise any one of them can be added or omitted when using it in stew-type dishes, soups, etc.

Make your own following any of the thirty-four pork recipes, fourteen ones for beef, a dozen for chicken and duck, and the seven vegetarian and other ones. For those that do, meals will be varied and more flavorful than ever before. Not fond of tofu, make the one for soybean products and become a convert, a healthier person, too. We had sliced beef shanks at a banquet and wondered what made them so tasty? Follow a recipe for lu and make them for a sandwich; even for a meatless meat. Had a Shanghai pork shank at your favorite Chinese restaurant and want to try to duplicate it; try that recipe, too. Use this book to be creative; then marvel at foods that will resemble what the Chinese make at home.
Soy-based Lu Stock
2 Tablespoons oil
4 or 5 cloves of garlic, crushed lightly
3 or 4 slices of fresh ginger
2 scallions, cut into one- to two-inch sections
2 cups soy sauce
1/2 to 1 cup Chinese rice wine
2 star anise
1 Tablespoon Sichuan pepper
1 to 2 pieces stick cinnamon
4 or 5 whole cloves
2 0r 3 pieces dried ginger
½ Tablespoon whole cumin
1 or 2 Chinese or western nutmeg
1 piece dried tangerine peel
1 or 2 pieces dried licorice root
2 or 3 bay leaves
2 teaspoon white peppercorns
1 Tablespoon rock sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1. Heat oil and saute garlic, fresh ginger, and scallions. Then add soy sauce and eight cups of water; then mix in wine and all the rest of the ingredients (which can be placed in a large mesh or cheesecloth bag). Bing to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer twenty minutes.
2. Remove all spices (they can be dried and used another time).
3. Cool and refrigerate. Then use all or some, as desired.

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