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Need Recommendation for Chinese cookbook

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

I just obtained a flat bottom wok and am really enjoying it.  I would like to get a chinese cookbook that includes basic wok technique and decent recipes.  I love szechuan and hunan style foods, spicey and hot fwiw.

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
Reply
post #2 of 17

Probably the two best books for Hunan and Szechuan are by Fuchsia Dunlop:

 

The Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook (hunan) 

Land of Plenty  (Sichuan)

 

I can go a lot deeper on this topic if you want. See also my recent blog post on Chinese Regional Cooking

 

For wok technique, Breath of a Wok by Grace Young is excellent.

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by phatch View Post
 

Probably the two best books for Hunan and Szechuan are by Fuchsia Dunlop:

 

The Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook (hunan) 

Land of Plenty  (Sichuan)

 

I can go a lot deeper on this topic if you want. See also my recent blog post on Chinese Regional Cooking

 

For wok technique, Breath of a Wok by Grace Young is excellent.


THX!  Basics are all I seek at this point.

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
Reply

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
Reply
post #4 of 17

Fuchsia Dunlop has several cookbooks. She and Grace Young are probably the best writers of Chinese cookbooks working in English right now. If you want simple, look at Dunlop's Every Grain of Rice. It's Chinese home cooking.

post #5 of 17

Thread Hijack Alert

 

I didn't really like her Every Grain of Rice. It's more Dunlop's cooking at home in a chinese influenced style rather than Chinese home cooking. So it's simplified, shortcutted and adapted.   Plus it rehashes recipes from her other two primary works. I was hoping it would go into how  the Chinese home cooks approach the meal, adapt what's at hand to what they're in the mood for and so on. How do they handle leftovers and repurpose things. More theory of Chinese cooking than just recipes such that it would reflect how the natives cook daily without being bound in a recipe. In the intro, she hints at some of those ideas but didn't flesh them out. 

 

The recipes work OK because she's talented. But it didn't really offer the insight the concept offers imho. 

 

Edited to Add:

 

Grace Young's other recent work, Stir Frying to Sky's Edge is sort of a similar idea that explores how the Chinese emigrants have adapted to cooking in their new locations around the world, the home fusion dishes that result. I think this was better in that it explained the adaptations rather than just presenting them in recipe form. 

 

Not that I'm right, these are just my opinions. 

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #6 of 17
Thread Starter 

I appreciate all of the comments.  Right now it's looking like Breath of a Wok and also Southeast Asian Flavors.

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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post #7 of 17

I think you'll enjoy Breath of a Wok. 

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #8 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by phatch View Post
 

I think you'll enjoy Breath of a Wok. 


Just ordered it and will let you know.

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
Reply

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
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post #9 of 17
Thread Starter 

@phatch: The BREATH OF A WOK is a book that's working out great for me.  The recipe on smoking chicken and soft boiled eggs in the wok is utterly compelling and the recipes all simple.

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
Reply

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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post #10 of 17

I'm glad you're enjoying it.

 

I want to return to my comment about looking for a cookbook that explores the theory of Chinese cooking. I found one. It's older and out of print, but was an influential book on Fuchsia Dunlop, Jeff Smith and other fans of Chinese food. Chinese Gastronomy by Hsiang Ju Lin. There are various printings starting in 1955 and most recently in 1982 it seems.  Very analytical and once it gets into recipes, they occur in small groups that exemplify a particular principle he wants to demonstrate.  Very educational. Perhaps a little weak on technique and if all you want is recipes, this is not the first choice for that. But theory, Oh Yes!

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #11 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by phatch View Post
 

I'm glad you're enjoying it.

 

I want to return to my comment about looking for a cookbook that explores the theory of Chinese cooking. I found one. It's older and out of print, but was an influential book on Fuchsia Dunlop, Jeff Smith and other fans of Chinese food. Chinese Gastronomy by Hsiang Ju Lin. There are various printings starting in 1955 and most recently in 1982 it seems.  Very analytical and once it gets into recipes, they occur in small groups that exemplify a particular principle he wants to demonstrate.  Very educational. Perhaps a little weak on technique and if all you want is recipes, this is not the first choice for that. But theory, Oh Yes!


Theory, for example...     8)

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
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post #12 of 17

By theory, I mean mostly how the Chinese culturally think about food.

 

He gives five terms that reflect primal values of chinese cuisine, Hsien--sweet natural flavor, Hsiang-characteristic fragrance,  Nung-rich, heady, concentrated; yu-er-pu-ni-to taste of fat without being oily such as properly cooked pork belly. 

 

His very first recipes focus on the plain flavors of food, the base essence. Boiled rice, poached chicken and so on. Establish as a baseline the characteristics of the ingredients and those dishes that do that. 

 

Then, he starts to move into the flavors more. Carp in Lamb Broth as an early in the discussion of complementary flavors as an example. The introduction to this recipe:

Quote:
 We elucidate the common principle by exaggeration. The flavour of lamb is very sweet, though rank. The rankness is suppressed by cooking with wine. Carp is the richest and meatiest of all fish, and requires the support of a meat broth. The fish and lamb broth are eaten together, with a spoon. Each tastes of itself, but at the point where they meet, there is no difference. The effect is very complex, novel and amusing. The emasculated delicacy of this recipe is typical of Soochow gastronomy discussed at length in Chapter 4. The word Hsien (sweet and the character for it) is composed of the fish and the lamb. They have met. 

 

And check out this chart. It runs a couple of pages in the book but here's a section (click the image to read it in a larger format:

 

He's explaining why ingredients and techniques are used and what they are thought to accomplish as well as linking a sample recipe. So theory of the cuisine. It's this sort of understanding of a cuisine and the related technique that free you from recipes. You can look in your fridge and intuit what to do with what you have available. His explanation of the uses of ginger for example really opened my mind to the ingredient. I had simply viewed it as adding the ginger flavor to the dish. But no. It's more often used to correct a perceived flaw in the flavor. To remove fishiness in fish, the sulfurous rankness of meat, the grassiness of green vegetables. You'll often not taste the ginger at all or it might be cooked in the oil, then removed. Of course, there are times it is used for it's own flavor as well. 

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #13 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by phatch View Post

 

Then, he starts to move into the flavors more. Carp in Lamb Broth as an early in the discussion of complementary flavors as an example.

I need to checkout the glyphs for both carp and lamb broth and to learn how they combine.....on paper with brush.


Edited by kokopuffs - 6/24/14 at 10:07am

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
Reply

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
Reply
post #14 of 17

I think I really need to get Hsiang Ju Lin's book then. I do have Dunlop's Revolutionary Chinese and Land of Plenty, and I do like them very much - they are, however, very regional. I definitely need more.... 

post #15 of 17
I'll post a pic of that introduction later so you can see the characters.
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #16 of 17

I have Land of the Plenty and enjoy some of the recipes, especially since i love Szechuanese cooking. However, The Food of China by Deh-Ta Hsiung is by far my favorite chinese cookbook. I think I actually came across it at a thrift store, definitely an awesome find. It isn't just wok cooking, there are a lot of different methods used. The book is packed with information, recipes, and beautiful photos. It will definitely get you inspired to start cooking. My favorite recipe from it is the peking duck w/ mandarin pancakes, which is a combination cooking method but the wok can of course be used. 

post #17 of 17

To learn Chinese and Thai, one must eat authentically enough to learn what to cook. You must receptive to new ideas and not base your choices just on previous experience. Sometimes a recipe will lay flat without dimension on a written page and yet be a treasure. I have had many Asian mentors as many of my peers not only knew the food but cooked it at home as well. Dim sum restaurants are restaurants with roaming carts that have a tremendous assortment of many of the Chinese dishes from Guangzhou in southern China. This is great Cantonese and undoubtedly one of the world's favorites.

 

Areas of the US with the most Chinese and Thai are New York, San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland and the Los Angeles. When I get impressions of a Chinese restaurant, the number of round eyes among the patrons counts against it. If the Chinese and Thai don’t eat here than neither do I. Read the menu before you go to see if there are dishes you want to try. Many larger cities will have good places to try. For instance, Joy Tsin Lau in downtown Philadelphia PA has 274 items on the menu. See my review on Yelp. The Gourmet Kingdom (Ba shu chuan cai) in Carrboro NC has 135 items on their menu.

 

When Hong Kong was being annex by China, a mass exodus of Hong Kong’s great chefs fled and landed in Burlingame, California near San Francisco. One can find 466 listings related to Chinese Restaurants in Burlingame on YP.com.

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