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Food and Cooking of South China, The

by: Terry Tan

London UK: Aquamarine, an imprint of Anness Publishing, Ltd. 2008, $35.00, Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-90314163-2

Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Spring Volume: 2010 Issue: 17(1) page(s): 22 and 23

The cover says 'Discover the vibrant tastes of Cantonese, Shantou, Hakka, and island cuisine traditions, tastes, and techniques.' We did as we tried many of its seventy-five recipes. Reading about places, festivals, and cooking equipment helps. So do learning about all their ingredients; likewise the completed recipes. All offer education. There are more than four hundred photographs showing off many things; we loved them. Also loved the paragraph before each recipe, and the recipes themselves. A simple one such as the Minced Pork Rolls in Beancurd Skin is from Shantou is a Taoist festival offering making any meal more festive.

Cantonese Yam Cake is classic, its main ingredient the author says, is called taro in the United States, and is described as barrel-shaped with hairy brown skin and purple-flecked flesh. Never illustrated, the finished item tastes of yummy taro, its multiple contents (dried shrimp, shallots, Chinese sausages, rice and tapioca flours and cornstarch, scallions and seasonings) make it the best we ever had. Glutinous Rice in a Lotus Leaf is another parcel of southern scrumptiousness not to be missed.
Glutinous Rice in a Lotus Leaf
2 cups glutinous rice, soaked in four cups of water for two hours, mixed with a tablespoon of salt and steamed over boiling water for fifteen minutes
4 Chinese black mushrooms, soaked in boiling water for half an hour, stems discarded, caps minced
1 large lotus leaf, soaked in warm water for fifteen minutes
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cloves peeled garlic, crushed
7 ounces skinless and boneless chicken, diced
1 Chinese sausage, finely sliced
8 drained canned Chinese chestnuts
2 Tablespoons thin soy sauce
1 Tablespoon dark soy sauce
2 Tablespoons oyster sauce
2 Tablespoons sesame oil
2 Tablespoons minced scallion
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
chili sauce, optional and for serving
1. Put steamed rice on the prepared lotus leaf.
2. Heat oil in a wok or fry pan and stir-fry the garlic, chicken, and sausage for one minute, then add the mushrooms, chestnuts, soy sauces, oyster sauce, sesame oil, scallions, and black pepper and stir-fry for two more minutes, then pour this on top of the rice, and fold edges making a closed bundle, and putting this seam-side down on a heat-proof serving plate.
3. Steam for ten minutes. Serve with chili sauce on the side for those that want some.

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