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Chinese Cooking Our Legacy

by: Kathy, editor Lowe

San Jose CA: C.I. Printing 1997, $25.00, Paperback
ISBN: 0-9640044-2-9

Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Summer Volume: 1998 Issue: 5(2) page(s): 20

Available from the Chinese American Women's Club of Santa Clara County, you can purchase a copy of this plastic-covered loose-leaf from CAWC Cookbook Committee, P.O. Box 5091, San Jose CA 95150 for $28.50 including shipping. It is a revision of Chinese Cooking Our Way, a book never seen that was written some twenty-five years ago. The new revised edition has seven recipe sections: Soup, Vegetables, Meat, Poultry & Eggs, Seafood, Rice & Noodles, and Dim Sum, and a section on Home Rededies, the only cookbook I know that does.

No light-weight, the four hundred and thirty-two pages weigh in to be the best Chinese community cookbook ever. Kudos to Emily Chin Yue and her Cookbook Committee co-chairperson, Anita Kwok, and to Kathy Lowe who served as editor. Their combined efforts produced a book for anyone who cares about Chnese cuisine.

Each recipe has a name in English, a Cantonese transliteration, and the recipe donor's name. There is also an ingredient list and preparation instructions. The recipes themselves are both classic and classy, some are fusion, and most are worth trying. Every one I attempted was easy to follow and only one had a glitch. It was in the order of ingredients; they were not the same as discussed in the paragraphs of preparation.

Fried Milk with Crabmeat, contributed by Elizabeth Wong, is an example of the above but with results so good I forgot to be peeved. She suggested serving this norhtern Chinese dish immediately after the milk, cornstarch, salt, and egg whites were thickened and poured over rice sticks. A great idea! I usually make fried milk sans the egg whites and only after the milk mixture cools. Her immediate results and texture contrasts are worth knowing about.

The Quick and Easy Baked Buns made a no-effort lunch one day. Unbaked and pan-fried in half an inch of oil, the pork, scallions, coriander, and the seasonings were tasty. My guests said they were a terrific lunch.

Recipes include Shark's Fin Soup, Seaweed Soup, even Whole Wintermelon Soup. There is a Curry Tripe, and Chicken in Bird's Nest, Steamed Triple Eggs, Sea Cucumber and Black Mushrooms, Gold Coin Shrimp, Squid with Green Peas in Oyster Sauce, and Pot Stickers, to name but a few. Because some of the people may have lived in other countries, a few of the recipes reflect that, including Auntie Kathy's Apricot Mochi, and the Tofu Cheesecake.

The unique chapter of Home Remedies discusses Chinese theories about food and health, and some household herbs. Within its thirty-five pages is an herb glossary, many recipes, and advise that the recipes are part of the Chinese culture and not represented as cures. The Watercress and Fig Tonic recipe for dry cough and sore throat has no sugar, is naturally sweet, and is a sure tonic for anyone who loves figs. At the chapter's end, a handful of references provide sources used by the committee. In contrast to this fine chapter, is an all too short Celebrations chapter with nine pages crammed with different types of cultural detail. Too little attention is given to its half dozen holidays and life-cycle events.

As a cookbook, it is worth owning for the chapter about remedies reinforcing the Chinese belief that food is medicine and medicine is food. Do see the article by Y.C. Kong on Food and Medicine in this issue for more information on this topic.

We offer: Happiness to those who enjoy preparing its recipes and long may it bring them tasty food; Peace and Kindness to the households of its contributors; Honor to all CAWC members; and Wealth to the organization. May they continue and expand historical and cultural community service projects, library exhibits, work with the historical museum, Cemetery Association, Law Alliance, and the other good deeds their profits support.

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