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Sweet Mandarin Cookbook (by Helen and Lisa Tse)

by: Helen and Lisa Tse

Latham MD: Kyle Books 2-14, $24.95, Hardbound
ISBN: 978-1-909487-07-9

Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Fall Volume: 2015 Issue: 22(3) page(s): 15

This volume has one hundred detailed recipes written in standard style most with color photographs taken by Gareth Morgans. It has nine chapters written by this set of twins who Gordon Ramsey calls 'Culinary Jewels,' and many agree.

Some are classic, others contemporary all can be gluten- or dairy-free, easy to make, and creative. They are in chapters titled: Stocks & Sauces; Soups & Appetizers; Poultry & Eggs; Meat; Fish & Seafood; Vegetables; Noodles & ice; Desserts & Exotic Cocktails. They follow an introduction that describes eight tips for basic Chinese cooking, fifteen pantry items, and five utensils. Should you forget the recipes three pages with three columns each lists them in the index.

The recipes are diverse, more simple than believed, and very creative. The one with the oddest name is the most complicated but needs less than half an hour to cook. These author-twins did win Gordon Ramsey/'s best of ten thousand restaurants in his Channel 4 competition; all use ingredients in many well-stocked major supermarkets, none use MSG, and all are dishes you will want to make often.

The author's are British-born. Lisa is Head and executive Chef in their restaurant, and both lecture in schools and colleges. Both have a respected following on their website at www.sweetmandarin.com You can cook from this book. Do not be fooled, the recipes look difficult but are not, they just sound that way. They are easy, the only difficulty is picking just one to share in this column. Many have graces our table, er picked a popular Peking Duck variation loved by all. It is east to make and pleases many because it includes dusk, chicken, and quail. It takes less than half an hour to prepare it, an hour and ten minutes to cook it, then it only needs to turn the oven lower during the cooking time.

Make it and wow your guests! Ssimply ignore its dumb name.
Peking Duckenail
1/2 cup plum sauce OR cook your own: by mixing three plums, 1/2 slivered red chili, 3 Tablespoons sugar 1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder, 1 teaspoon white vinegar, and 1/4 cup water and simmering them for ten minutes, then cool, and set aside
2 ounces chopped cooked chestnuts
2 ounces dried soaked minces shiitake mushrooms
1/2 cup cooked sticky rice (as made below)
1 ounce Chinese sausage, diced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon shao xing wine
2 boneless duck breasts with skin left on
2 teaspoons salt
2 chicken thighs, boneless and skinless
2 quail fillets, boneless and skinless
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
2. Mix stuffing of chestnuts mushrooms, cooked rice, Chinese sausage, salt, sugar, five-spice powder, sesame oil, and wine and divide into six portions.
3. Pound each chicken thigh, then top with a portion of the stuffing, and put it on the duck breast. Next arrange the quail on top of it with another portion of the stuffing, and put these under the stuffed duck breast. Now roll these three items tightly in aluminum foil and bake on a cookie sheet for half an hour.
4. Remove the foil, reduce the oven temperature to 425 degrees F and cook for another half an hour before turning the oven to broil. Now cook for five to ten minutes.
5. Remove to a wooden board, slice carefully, and serve with the purchased or prepared plum sauce on the side.
To prepare the sticky rice: Soak the rice overnight or for three hours, then drain and reserve all the liquid. Next, add two tablespoons oil and stir it with the rice in a heated wok or fry pan until the rice has absorbed all the oil. Follow this adding one cup of the soaking liquid and stirring the rice until all of it has been absorbed. Now add more soaking liquid two tablespoons a a time until the rice has stopped absorbing any more liquid. Now, remove from the heat source and let this rest for half an hour before mixing in the other ingredients; and then divide it into six portions. Use as indicated above

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