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Chinese Cooking at Home...It's Easy

by: Tommy and Tina Yen

Video Tutors Institute 1993, Spiralbound

Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Fall Volume: 1994 Issue: 1(1) pages: 15 to 16

Three videos and a spiral book combine and "search to bring the best we can offer" and "what chefs have known forever" says the first video. They also advise that each dish will turn out perfectly every time. Bet they will if you have a VCR in your kitchen as you attempt any of the twenty-four recipes prepared before your eyes. The only problem I had was that I never saw the Chef's eyes or his or her face in this nuts and bolts, easy-to-follow, step-by-step guide edited by Nancy J. Teppler.

The recipes, eight per video, include super simple items such as Lemon Chicken, Sesame Steak, Orange Beef, Egg Roll, Cashew Chicken, and Fried Shrimp. There are a few slightly more complicated items including Shrimp and Lobster Sauce and Kung Pao Chicken, and even one titled Chinese Burritos.

That last one and where I purchased this set leads me to believe that these videos were cooked, and book written, in the west or southwest of this country. However, I'm guessing because neither the book nor the videos have any indication of where they were taped or published. That leaves anyone who wants to adhere to the paragraph on the rear cover in limbo, where does one get prior permission to copy or use these materials?

For beginners, these videos are well done with English easy to understand, no accent discernible. Each recipe begins by listing ingredients making each video self-standing. Other things are less careful, such as no explanation as to why there is no honey in the Honey Spareribs, why they deep fry in a wok with no ring tempting a disaster, why they need to use so much salt in some recipes (Orange Beef), so little in those spareribs, and why they are using butter in their rendition of Curry Chicken.

Incidentally, those burritos are quite interesting and Vietnamese in character. All the ingredients are cooked first and then put into an uncooked spring roll or tortilla sheet and then eaten immediately thereafter. The Shrimp with Pineapple is interesting, too, as it is made in the new Hong Kong style of cooking where mayonnaise, mixed with sugar, is added after all the foods are cooked. It is interesting in another manner as well, as the the instructions and the video say to fold the mayonnaise mixture into the shrimp while the illustrative material shows it drizzled on the top of them.

This set is available by mail from San Francisco's China Books and Periodicals. If you are a beginner, know nothing about Chi-nese cuisine and have a VCR, this set of four items may be a good way for you to begin.

Jacqueline M. Newman, Flavor and Fortune's editor, is a Registered Dietitian and a Fellow of the American College of Nutrition. She researches Chinese and other Asian food habits, has written three books and many dozen articles about them, and reviews books for many professional association journals.

Note: This review appeared in the column: Newman's News of Things both Printed and Pictured.

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