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Zen: The Modern Art of Eastern Cooking

by: Ming-Dao Deng

San Francisco CA: Soma Books 1998, $27.00, Hardbound
ISBN: 1- 57959-004-7

Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Spring Volume: 2000 Issue: 7(1) page(s): 22

Guided by the four principles of Zen: Respect, Harmony, Purity, and Tranquility, Deng Ming-Dao shares recipes and thoughts about bringing out the best in ourselves and our food.

After an introduction, the marriage of Zen Buddhisim and Taoism are explained as is Zen and health and other topics. Of particular interest are the Eleven Courses of a Taoist Banquet and how they came into being and the role of each in the overall meal. In brief, they are:
1. Pickled or vinegary dishes to stimulate the digestive system.
2. Vegetables, tofu, or other neutral foods, to calm the system and neutralize.
3. Meats, fried foods, spicy foods; yang foods to stimulate and energize.
4. Tonic soups made with medicinal herbs to build vitality.
5. Stir-fried foods to balance the wetness of the soup course.
6. White fish, nutritious but neutral.
7. Vegetable dishes to neutralize the yang of the meats and tonic soups.
8. Mushroom soups to cleanse the digestive system.
9. Rice or noodles to fill the diner.
10. Fruits, cooling clensing and sweet.
11. Teas to stimulate or calm as needed for the banquet or the diners.

Though not all information or recipes are Chinese, the Sweet Red Bean Congee is wonderful as is the Pine Nut Congee. The Luohan Vegetable Stew is a fine combination of fresh and dry ingredients, and the Red Rice Stir-Fry will meet the needs of those seeking Fujianese foods and/or products in the market that tout cholesterol control such as Cholestin, which claims that it does.

Cholestin is a proprietary product that uses yeast fermented on red rice. We sugest you see the article about Fujianese foods in Flavor and Fortune's, Volume 6(2) on page 13 and beyond, and the recipe for Red Wine Paste on page 20 of that issue. Additional red rice recipes will be included in future issues.

Many other Chinese recipes are delicious as is the Grilled Quail Stuffed with Chinese Sticky Rice and an unusual versin of Spicy Pan-Fried Chinese Long Beans made with honey, basil, and mint leaves.

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