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Classic Chinese Recipes

by: Ken Hom

London UK: Octopus Publishing Group 2013, Hardbound
ISBN: 978-0-600-62077-8

Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Spring Volume: 2013 Issue: 20(1) page(s): 21

The rear cover says: "Ken Hom, OBE, is regarded as the world's leading authority on Chinese Cookery." We know and agree. He is the honorary chairperson of Flavor and Fortune's parent organization, ISACC, more formally known as the Institute for the Advancement of the Science and Art of Chinese Cuisine.

This book, and others he has written have sold more than three million copies worldwide. He has worked as consultant for hotels and restaurants, cooked for presidents, celebrities, and royalty, and in 2007 received an honorary doctorate from Oxford Brookes University in England. And from the crown, Ken Hom was awarded the OBE or Royal Order of the British Empire.

This book and all else he has done are the why of his outstanding success is in the international food world. This volume, one in a series titled: Classic Recipes, showcases some of the world's most admired chefs and Hom is one; and he is noteworthy not only for his pioneering approach to food, but also for his dependable, uncomplicated and trustworthy recipes. In this one volume are seventy-five of his signature dishes, one better than the next. Each recipe is discussed after the book's brief introduction followed by a twenty-two-ingredient glossary, details about selecting a wok, how to season and clean it, information about steamers, the cleaver; and other utensils Chinese valuable when preparing Chinese food.

The recipes are in chapters titled: Soups, Meat, Poultry, Fish, Vegetables, and Rice & Noodle chapters. After them, a four-page three-column recipe index, and a short list acknowledging ten people from the Executive Editor to the Senior Production Controller of this series. Included is Noel Murphy, the book's photographer, whose color photographs appear for almost every completed dish. These pictures almost jump up and make it to your brain. They should make it to your table; and if the paper were glossy, one might even taste them. Selecting one dish to share for this review is no easy task. It would not be easy in any of the twenty-seven other books of his that line our shelves. We list some of the ones listed in another book of his, and do so in alphabetical order, accompanying this review.

While his Vegetarian Dumplings are great, as is his Sichuan Cold Chicken Salad, and the Beef and Mooli Stew, they are not chosen to accompany this review, but you might want to pick up the book and try them, too. These and most others should be made, and soon. By the way, mooli is the large white radish that some refer to by its Japanese name of daikon. It is a vegetable the Chinese often prepare with beef. Hom advises that and more. Just read the two or so sentences before each recipe and get a quick education.

Every recipe title is in English, its Chinese transliteration/pronunciation in Pinyin above it. The ingredients are listed in bold down the left side of the page, and most in metric and Imperial measures. The recipe's method is in steps below the title and its Chinese name. Each step is just that, a single step; all easy to follow. We have written the recipe in American measures below, but want to advise that most often one can follow the Imperial ones making believe they are American measures. We have rewritten the recipe in Flavor and Fortune style, as we almost always do.

Most of Ken Hom's and other author books can be found on the web by searching Google, www.Amazon.com or another bookseller. They are also listed on www.worldcat.org Do select the ones that are of interest, and if need be, go to your local library and check them out.

Now to one of the many recipes we made and adored. Do try it and many other Hom signature dishes. It easily can become one of yours.

The books we have that Hom has authored include:
Cooking of China
Easy Family Dishes: A Memoir with Recipes
Fragrant Harbour Taste
Ken Hom Cooks Chinese
Ken Hom Cooks Noodles & Rice
Ken Hom's Chinese Cookery
Ken Hom's Chinese Kitchen
Ken Hom's East Meets West Cuisine
Ken Hom's Foolproof Asian Cookery
Ken Hom's Foolproof Chinese Cookery
Ken Hom's Hot Wok
Ken Hom's Illustrated Chinese Cookery
Ken Hom's Quick & Easy Chinese Cookery
Ken Hom's Quick Wok
Ken Hom's Top 100 Stir-fry Recipes
Ken Hom's Vegetable & Pasta Book
Ken Hom's Vegetarian Cookery
Ken Hom Travels with a Hot Wok
Simple Chinese Cookery
The Taste of China
Crispy Noodles with Spicy Pork II
4 ounces dried bean thread noodles
14 ounces peanut or vegetable oil plus an additional tablespoon
8 ounces minced pork
1 Tablespoon dark soy sauce
2 teaspoons Shaoxing rice wine
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 Tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
2 Tablespoons peeled then finely minced garlic
4 Tablespoons finely minced scallions
2 teaspoons dark soy sauce
2 teaspoons thin soy sauce
1 Tablespoon chili bean sauce
1 teaspoon roasted Sichuan peppercorns
1 few chopped scallions for garnish
1. Separate and break the noodles in a paper bag; that keeps them from flying all over the place.
2. Heat a wok until hot then add the large amount of oil but not the extra tablespoon. When it is hot, deep fry the bean threads in several batches. Remove them quickly with a slotted spoon putting them on paper towels. They will puff up and triple in size.
3. Strain the oil and store it for another use, then wipe the wok clean.
4. Mix pork, soy sauce, rice wine and sesame oil in one small bowl; the dark and thin soy sauces, chili bean sauce, and the roasted Sichuan peppercorns in another.
5. Reheat the wok and add the tablespoon of oil that was set aside, and the ginger, garlic, and scallion mixture and stir-fry for twenty seconds before adding the pork mixture. Stir-fry for two minutes then add the chili bean sauce mixture in the other bowl. Bring this to a simmer, and stir as you raise the heat to high. Stir-fry it for five minutes.
6. Next, add the fried noodles, mix quickly, and ladle everything in the wok to a large serving bowl. Garnish with the scallions and serve immediately.

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