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Blue Eye Dragon Taiwanese Cooking

by: Jade and Muriel Chen

Sydney Australia: New Holland Publishers Pty Ltd. 2008, Hardbound
ISBN: 9781741106022

Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Winter Volume: 2009 Issue: 16(4) page(s): 22

Big and beautiful, this mother-daughter team effort is a delight. Named after the restaurant that features their home cooking, the book features foods from the eatery that took shape in 2005 on the ground floor of the old Pyrmont Hotel.

Truly a family affair, their eatery has paintings by an Auntie, artifacts and other items by a sister and a sister-in-law, other relatives too, and many from their own homes. As it says, "All the recipes are Mum’s recipes–her life's work." Joe Fishie's color photographs bring them to life. Though Mum and Dad ran other restaurants for a quarter of a century, it is Muriel who brings Mum's special food not only to patrons at the Blue Eye Dragon, but through the book, to us all.

The recipes are easy to follow, and most are quick. All the super savory sauces that start them off are worth making; and we did want to bottle several of them. Have yet to locate the Chinese plum powder, but when I do, I will purchase lots and stop borrowing from a good friend. (Help me readers, she carried hers back from Taipei.)

Within the pages are so many recipes to savor. The Chicken Soup with Ginger, Wolfberries, Rice Wine and Sesame Oil is one of many winners. No water, just a pound of chicken thighs, a bottle of rice wine, and the other items named in its title plus a dash of salt and some sugar. Garlic Prawns with shallots and Fish Sauce are super, too. Lots of garlic and fish sauce make them masterful; as are many other recipes in this book.
Chicken Soup with Ginger, Wolfberries, Rice Wine,
1 pound chicken thigh meat
1 Tablespoon wolfberries (also called goji berries)
1/4 cup black sesame oil
2 ounces peeled fresh ginger, old and woody
20 ounces Chinese rice wine
a pinch of salt
½ Tablespoon sugar
1. Cut chicken into one-quarter inch cubes
2. Soak wolfberries in water to soften, then drain and discard the water.
3. Heat wok or pot, add sesame oil and then stir-fry the ginger until slightly dry and fragrant before adding the chicken and stir-frying it until almost cooked through.
4. Pour in half the rice wine and bring to the boil. Be careful as it is very flammable; then add the drained wolfberries, reduce the heat to medium, and add the rest of the wine.
5. Simmer for a few minutes until the chicken is fully cooked. Add salt and sugar, and serve.

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