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Bamboo, A Journey with Chinese Food

by: Sallie and Gordon Hammond

Aukland New Zealand: New Holland Publishers 2007, Paperback
ISBN: 978-1741105698

Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Fall Volume: 2008 Issue: 15(3) page(s): 22

A travel and tasting delight, this book is written by author/restaurant reviewer and her award-winning photographer/husband. It welcomes readers to China and looks at five general regional locations in that country. They are: Northern, Eastern, Southern, Western, and far-western regions. Each of these have recipes enabling tastes in their areas.

Pictures of people, places, and foods are great with recipes of matching quality, many with a color photograph of the completed dish. These can almost be tasted. The recipes are well-written, preparing them is easy in most cases. However, some ingredient sizes and/or names are local and we wonder what they mean, such as 'punnet,' what is that? Before the recipes, a page titled: The Menu lists thirty-eight by meal category. A helpful page has a map in color that shows regions and their major cities.

Reading the information that begins each chapter provides a sense of lifestyle, the pictures enhance this understanding. Every recipe lists ingredients in both metric and British units and each one provides its method in a single paragraph. The one we printed below offers a typical sophisticated taste of its Eastern region.
Winter Melon Chowder
1 can abalone (two to a can)
1 box silken tofu
5 ounces dried scallops, soaked in warm water for one hour
6 cups chicken stock
1 small winter melon, peeled and diced
6 Chinese red dates
1 packet (about ten) bamboo fungus, soaked, veils removed, and cut into short lengths
1 handful honshimeiji mushrooms
1 cup green peas
1. Dice abalone and the tofu, and shred the soaked scallops.
2. Boil the chicken stock for ten minutes, add the winter melon pieces and the dates, and turn the heat down low. Simmer until the winter melon cubes are translucent.
3. Add the remaining ingredients and return to a boil for one minute. Serve in individual bowls.

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