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Martin Yan's China

by: Jacqueline M. Newman

San Francisco CA: Chronicle Books 2008, $24.95, Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-8118-6396-4

Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Winter Volume: 2008 Issue: 15(4) page(s): 20

Companion volume to his latest Public Television series, this culinary journey accompanies Martin Yan's latest and greatest TV series. The volume, packed with Yan's recipes and stunning photographs by Stephanie L. Jan and Goeffrey Nilsen, is something to salivate over and to savor. It is the best Yan volume to date among many other fascinating ones. It highlights the land of his birth and according to him, the home of his heart.

There are more than one hundred recipes, all are easy to make, and every one we tried was yummy and enjoyable. The book is in five menu parts after a super set of basic recipes and information, labeled what else: Basic. They are very instructional and items for everyone's repertoire. Before them, learn what you may not know about Chinese cooking tools, Chinese cooking techniques, Chinese ingredients, and the Chinese pantry. Martin Yan's China ends with on-line resources, menu suggestions, acknowledgments, an index, and a table of equivalents; all valuable items one can search through when pulling this book off your shelf.

Nothing is left to the imagination, even a minority group that Martin visits and cooks with-–the Mosou--are detailed (and they are a minority very few know and one not in the book reviewed following this one). Do travel with Yan Can Cook in this outstanding book. Learn as he does, that China is now better than ever. The book is loaded with Yan childhood memories. When you visit, use them to make them your own.

And, do use this book to discover the beauty, history, culture, and culinary wonders of the land of Martin's birth. Use it to enjoy many simple and simply wonderful tastes of China. Travel and taste the treats that it offers. Read and enjoy his revisiting what he calls his 'other home.' You will agree, he is a great personal guide.
Dry-fried Glass Noodles
4 ounces dried bean thread noodles (also known as glass noodles and mung bean noodles)
1 Tablespoon Chinese rice vinegar
2 teaspoons thin soy sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch
4 ounces ground meat
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 Tablespoon chili bean paste
3 whole dried red chiles
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 scallion, coarsely chopped
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 fresh hot chili, sliced, for garnish
1. In a bowl, pour enough warm water over the noodles to cover them completely, and soak until softened (about ten minutes), then drain thoroughly. Cut noodles into three-inch long pieces.
2. Mix vinegar, thin soy sauce, and cornstarch in a bowl. Add meat and stir well. Let stand ten minutes.
3. Heat wok or large fry-pan until hot, add oil and coat the sides of the pan with it. Add garlic, ginger, bean paste, and the dried chilies and cook well, stirring until fragrant, then add the meat and stir-fry until it is no longer pink, about two minutes, then add the dark soy sauce, salt, and noodles, and stir-fry for four minutes. Next add scallion and sesame oil, stir, and transfer to a bowl or platter. Serve.

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