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Food and Cooking of Shanghai and East China by Terry Tan

by: Terry Tan

Leicestershire UK: Aquamarine, an imprint of Anness Publishing Ltd. 2012, $29.99, Hardbound
ISBN: 978-1-903141-95-5

Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Spring Volume: 2014 Issue: 21(1) page(s): 23

Big and beautiful, this volume has seventy-five recipes of foods from Shanghai, Zhejiang, Fujian, Anhui, Jiangsu, and Jiangxi. They are photographed by Martin Brigdale, and most recipes have two or three small pictures of their preparation beside the one, about one-quarter of a page, of the completed dish. The former are not as helpful as is the latter. The recipes are, however, super!

Every recipe has a paragraph before its ingredients, often a cook's tip, and always per portion information with ten nutrient amounts after them. Each food chapter has two introductory pages. Before these seven chapter, there are twenty pages about the region's geography history. festivals, customs, tools and equipment, and their classic ingredients.

The author is a great cook and does know how to share his knowledge. The recipes are detailed and delicious. We are working our way to making every one of them, most use common ingredients. We are just completing an article about unusual ingredients, seems fitting to share his Fujianese Stir-fried Kidney with Ginger and Celery. It looks magnificent, tastes yummy, is easy to prepare, and uses expensive rose wine which he says can be replaced with the best sherry one can get.

The information about some seventy ingredients on half dozen pages is as solid as is the book. They are explained and detailed, as well. We were impressed with the seven tofu types, the ten fish and shellfish varieties, eleven fresh vegetables, and the more than a dozen fruits, nuts, and seeds, among other items.

The Fish Head Casserole is made with black bean sauce, the Stir-fried Eels with Hoisin sauce, and the Liver and Kidney with soy sauce, to name three differences among his recipes. Most have variations among them. The Spare Ribs and Bitter Melon Soup says herbalists recommend it as a blood-pressure monitor and kidney cleanser. We recommend it for its intrinsic allure and lovely taste; it reduces bitterness, as explained, something the Fujianese might never do.
Spare Rib and Bitter Melon Soup
11 ounces spare ribs, cut into one-inch pieces
1 bitter melon, cut in half, seeds and core area removed and discarded, then cut into half-inch slices, or thinner if desired
2 Tablespoons thin soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon dried shrimp, soaked for an hour, then minced
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon lard
chili sauce for dipping
1. In a five-quart pot, add the ribs and boiling water to cover, then simmer for an hour until the meat falls off the bones. Then skim off any fat and reduce the liquid to three cups.
2. Next, add the biter melon, soy sauce, black pepper, dried shrimp, sugar, and lard, and then simmer for five more minutes.
3. Serve in individual soup bowls with chili sauce on the side.

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