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365 Ways To Cook Chinese

by: Rosa Lo San Ross

New York NY: HarperCollins 1994, $17.95, Spiralbound
ISBN: 0-06-016961-3

Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Summer Volume: 1995 Issue: 2(2) page(s): 15

This one-a-day John Boswell Associates recipe book is in a series of "365 Ways" volumes, Chinese joining Italian, Appetizer, Vegetarian, Wok, Christmas, Cookies & Brownies, and others.

It is presented in the usual parts of a meal, some titled with a twist. Chapter One is Appetizers, Relishes, Pickles, and Condiments, then you go on to Soups and Stock, Chinese Fast Food, Chinese Stews and Braises, Especially Hot and Spicy, The Chinese Way with Vegetables, Banquet Dishes, Great Ways with Noodles and Rice, Chinese Light, Little Packages Big Packages, Main-Course Salads and Other Cold Dishes, and Chinese Sweets.

These chapters follow a short introduction and a couple of dozen glossary items with two or three sentences about them. After the recipes comes an index and a brief item about the author; all are in a spiral volume that is hardbound.

In this era of minimal time to cook, all recipes advise how long to prep, cook, and even chill, if needed. Most are short, easy to do and require about half an hour of your time, not counting marinating or standing moments, also listed.

For those who want to pre-prepare some things ahead of time there are recipes for chili and scallion oil, and other condiments; they are helpful. In this category, I recommend the recipe/condiment numbered twenty-eight: Chile, Black Bean, and Garlic Oil.

Most of the recipes are common but a few are creative and worth your attention. The Honeyed Ham Steak (#93) is sure to please. It pleased me after I cooked it twice as long as the nineteen recommended minutes. The Sauteed Sweet Potatoes with Soy Sauce and Ginger (#184) and the Braised Taro Root (#185) are worth trying and tasting, as is the Squirrel Fish (# 229). No rodent this, it refers to the technique and not a fish you never heard of. Duck in Lotus Leaves (#321) is luscious, also if cooked longer, at least twenty minutes more made the duck more tender and the flavors more of a meld.

In this summer season we highly recommend you try the Red Peaches (#364), and if you have a mite of Scotch in your bones, reuse the syrup for a second and third batch. We did with but an ounce of triple sec to renew the essence of alcohol missed by loss from the burgundy.

Rosa Ross' book is great for those who do not need pictures of the finished product, who like simple recipes, and for all who want to expand their Chinese repertoire with real Chinese taste. Do not expect to find unusual or lots of ingredients. No recipe uses more than a handful or so of supermarket items. Do expect to be pleased with their ease of preparation with items handy around most homes.

Note: This review appeared in the Column: Newman's News and Reviews.

Honeyed Ham Steak
1/4 cup chopped fresh ginger
1 Tablespoon honey
1 ham steak (about one-half inch thick and weighing three-quarters of a pound)
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 Tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 Tablespoon dry sherry
1. In a small saucepan, combine ginger with one cup of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until water is reduced by half and infused with ginger (about ten minutes). Strain and discard ginger, then mix the ginger-water with honey and stir until dissolved.
2. Trim ham steak of excess fat. In a skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add ham steak and cook about two minutes on each side to brown lightly.
3. Add soy sauce, ginger-honey water, brown sugar, and sherry. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until liquid is reduced to a syrupy thickness so that it will coat the ham (about five minutes.
4. Slice ham thinly, then serve.

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