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Exploring China, A Culinary Adventure

by: Hom, Ken and Huang, Ching-He

London U.K.: BBC Books 2012, $25.00, Hardbound
ISBN: 978-849-90498-8

Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Summer Volume: 2013 Issue: 20(2) page(s): 18

This volume accompanies the BBC TV series of the same name and is the culmination of its two authors'once-in-a-lifetime culinary journey exploring their homeland heritage. They cook with local families and top chefs, share ideas with them and each other, and bring back the recipes they loved the most. One hundred are shared in this book and on the TV programs that accompanied it. We have yet to see this series in the USA.

The authors tell stories of old and new foods, reflect on childhood memories, and discover delicious food in contemporary China. Ken Hom is the author of more than thirty cookbooks, more than twenty were listed in Volume 20(1) of this magazine. In addition, Hom has done many television series since his first in 1984. Having earned many culinary awards, and an honorary doctorate from Oxford Brookes University in 2008, Hom also has an honorary OBE for his services to the culinary arts in the U.K.

His co-author, Ching-He Huang, also has hosted quite a few TV cooking series; and written a handful of Chinese cookbooks. She is known for her cooking skills and her recipes. Both have had many of their books reviewed in this magazine. Those that have, can be found on magazine's website in its index at www.flavorandfortune.com

This particular volume represents yesterday's and today's fine Chinese food. Their travels and tales report old and new recipes in pictures and text that tantalize taste buds. Everyone can learn about the places they visit and the best their cultural heritage offers. We suggest you try many of them as we did, even the many vegetarian foods they report about. Taste their Guangdong, Fujian, Yunnan, Sichuan, Kashgar and the Silk Road, Bejing, Chongking, and Taiwanese foods. Learn about dishes from China's small towns and mega-cities. Learn some of the foods of the many minorities in China. Taste many of the one hundred dishes reported from their travels. They will comfort, satisfy, and send delights as does the Dai-inspired rice noodle soup below.
Yi Jin's Dai-inspired Rice Noodle Soup
1/2 pound round dried rice noodles
1 and ½ Tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh garlic
2 Tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh ginger
2 teaspoons dried red chili flakes
4 ounces minced pork
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 ounces fresh ripe red tomatoes, cut into quarters
2 pints chicken stock
1 and 1/2 Tablespoons thin soy sauce
2 teaspoons Chinese Shao Xing rice wine
3 Tablespoons finely minced scallions
1. Soak rice noodles for twenty-five minutes in warm water, drain, and boil in salted water for five minutes, then drain and set aside.
2. Heat a wok or frypan and when hot, add oil, then the garlic, ginger, and chili flakes and stir-fry for half minute, then add the pork, and salt and pepper, and stir-fry for three minutes.
3. Add the tomatoes, the stock, soy sauce, and the rice wine and reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for five minutes, then uncover and add the rice noodles and simmer for three minutes more. Stir in the scallions, and after one minute, serve.

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