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China the Cookbook

by: Lum Chan
Fong, Diora

London UK: Phaidon Press Limited 2016, Hardbound
ISBN: 978-0-7148-7224-7

Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Fall Volume: 2017 Issue: 24(3) page(s): 18

This book has seven hundred and ten recipes written in standard style. Its methods are detailed and wordy; and they are in chapters titled: Appetizers and Salads; Soups; Fish & Seafood; Poultry; Meat; Vegetables, Tofu, and Eggs; Rice, Congee, & Noodles; Desserts; Guest Chefs. All recipes are one or two to a page, and titled in Chinese and English. Each one tells its region of origin, the cooking time needed, number served; and the needed ingredients, often in both ounces and grams. Its project editor is Michelle Meade, the many photographs are by D.L. Aiken, both tended to carefully.

An introductory chapter discusses the history of the Chinese food culture, regional cuisines including China’s eight great ones and others, their twenty-three cooking techniques, and twenty-one equipment items; all on twenty-two pages. At the book’s end are a hundred and sixty-three Chinese and English Glossary items discussed on fourteen-pages, the same number of pages have a three-column cross-referenced Index, a single page gives a forty-three item Bibliography. One more page provides recipe notes.

The recipes are detailed, many are unusual such as one for goat and eel, another for unusual mushrooms. Each of three of the chapters (Fish & Seafood; Meat; and Vegetables, Tofu & Eggs) include more than one hundred recipes.

Some of the photographs, all in color, are of places in China, and most all are of its completed dishes. Some are not where expected as they are where the Chinese eat them including some of the forty-three soups in the Desserts chapter; the Chinese do eat many soups at the end of their meal.

Mushrooms with Peach Kernels

2 ounces/50 G dried black mushrooms
1 cup (15 ounces/150 G)) peach kernels
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil and extra for deep frying
2 teaspoons sesame oil
½ ounce /20 G ginger, about an inch in length, half sliced, half chopped
1 cup (8 FL ounces/250 ML)vegetable broth
1 teaspoon thin soy sauce
½ teaspoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cornstarch
steamed rice, to serve


1. Put the mushrooms in a bowl, cover with cold water, and soak for at least twenty minutes or until softened. Remove the mushrooms, squeeze dry, and discard the stems.
2. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil, add the peach kernels, and blanch for four or five minutes until the skins begin to wrinkle. Drain and rinse under cold running water. Peel and dry the peach kernels throughly using paper towels.
3. Put the peach kernels into a wok or deep saucepan, add enough vegetable oil to cover them, and deep fry over medium-low heat for 5-10 minutes until the kernels are crunchy. Use a slotted spoon to carefully remove the kernels from the oil and drain on paper towels. Discard the vegetable oil.
4. Heat the sesame oil over medium heat. Add the ginger slices and stir-fry for one minute until fragrant. Put in the mushrooms and vegetable broth, bring to the boil, reduce to low heat and simmer for one hour. Stir frequently to prevent burning. Transfer the mushrooms to a bowl.
5. Heat the remaining two tablespoons oil in the wok over high heat, then add the chopped ginger and stir-fry for one minute until fragrant. Mix the mushrooms and peach kernels, add the soy sauce, sugar, and salt. After mixing the cornstarch with one tablespoon water, stir everything into the wok. Bring to a boil, stir for thirty seconds to thicken the sauce, then transfer to a serving plate and serve with rice, if desired.

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