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Chinese Way, The

by: Eileen Yin-Fei Lo

New York NY: Macmillan 1997, $24.95, Hardbound
ISBN: 0-020860381-8

Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Summer Volume: 1997 Issue: 4(2) page(s): 16

A highly acclaimed author turns both need (her husband's) and culinary talent(her own) towards healthy Chinese recipes blessed with mei doh which translates to 'good taste.' Subtitled: Healthy Low-fat Cooking form China's Rwegions, Eileen Yin-Fei Lo provides us with recipes that are easily prepared yet still have complex flavors. Yes, Ms. Lo, you have done it again, a seventh book with great recipes, a fascinating personal introduction, details of Chinese cooking techniques, a useful glossary of ingredients, and a wonderful index.

Before each recipe, the author discusses regionality, culinary reference materials, and cultural considerations, as appropriate. The more than two hundred of them are divided into eight chapters with interesting titles: My Special Preparations, Rice and Noodles, Foods From the Water, Versitile Chicken and Other Poultry, Foods From the Land, To Confucius Meat was Pork, Soups Glorius Soups, and Tong Sui and Other Sweets.

In the very fist recipe chapter there are basic recipes for three stocks (vegetable, chicken, and seafood), eight infused oils, a rice wine vinaigrette, four creative pickles (ginger, peach, pear, and green papaya), and ginger juice, minced garlic, and basic cooked rice. Become familiar with all of them because one or more of them will appear in almost every recipe. These basics provide flavorful accents worthy of enjoyment.

I was intrigued with the poultry chapter. It has two recipes for duck, eight made with turkey, twenty for chicken, and two with vegetables but no meat of any sort. The poultry recipe for Roast Chicken is simple and only needs two large chicken breasts (no dark meat is used because it is higher in fat than white meat). The roasted meat provides for the Two Peach Chicken Salad, and for the Chicken and Mango Salad. These two terrific recipes should grace many a table this summer, including mine.

Overall, the book would be a winner if not for some health concerns. On the Roast Chicken recipe, for example, I worry about Salmonella because the final advice is to 'turn off the heat, remove chicken (from the oven), and allow to cool to room temperature.' Foods not refrigerated for several hours provide bacteria their heavenly place for rapid reproduction. Then there is her practice of adding baking soda to items such as the Stir-fried Broccoli Florets. While this custom is practiced in parts of Southern China, it is discouraged in vegetable cookery in this country, and outlawed in restaurants in many states. Baking soda makes some nutrients unavilable in the human body.

Carping aside, calories, fat, carbohydrates, sodium, and cholesterol are reported and low in these recipes because Ms. Lo uses tried and true healthy culinary techniques. These include often cooking by steaming, inclusion of small amounts of oil, and by clever use of portion control. The latter is done by listing main dishes as serving six while almost all her vegetable dishes serve four; and if high in sodium, the recipe indicates that it has a yield of eight servings. These techniques prove that you do not have to eliminate most foods, just eat them in appropriate portion size.

Overall, the book offers tasty dishes for veryone whether they think or know themselves to be fat or thin. Recipes such as Rolled Flounder with Black Mushrooms are simple, flavorful, and something that should become part of everyone's cooking plan. Mang Chicken Stir-fry will be my favorite forever, and the Mushroom Noodles will remain part of my repertoire, especially when my husband's shiitake mushroom harvest overflows.

George Lang says on the rear cover, that "to dine well on Eileen Yin-Fei Lo's healthy Chinese food is the definition of the divine." You will agree when you try her Green Papaya Salad reproduced below in the style Flavor and Fortune recipes are written.

Note: This review appeared in the column titled: A Book Shelf of Reviews.
Green Papaya Salad
1 small green papaya, about one pound
2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 teapsoon salt
1. Peel, seed, and cut papaya into quarters. Then julienne into thin strips
2. Mix it and all ingredients thoroughly and refrigerate four hours or overnight. Serve cold.

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