by Huang Su-Huei
2006 Wei-Chuan Publishing ISBN-13: 978-0941676083
This book is another volume from the Wei-Chuan cookery book series that I introduced in my review of Chinese Cuisine Szechwan Style a while ago and most of the general comments I made about the series in that review apply to this book as well. I have nearly two-dozen of these books now and this particular volume is one of the best…
Content and Organization
This book contains just over 180 recipes organized by the type of dish. Each recipe occupies a single page is accompanied by a picture showing the finished dish. There is an excellent section describing and illustrating the less common ingredients used in the book as well as some very well designed menus for formal and family meals.
The recipe collection in this book I somewhat eclectic. There are a few classics represented but most are ‘homey’ type dishes that are largely Cantonese in character. Quite a few dishes employ ingredients, like ketchup and breadcrumbs, that most westerners would not associate with Chinese cuisine. This, however, is not an indication that the book has been designed for western tastes, but rather that it reflects an evolution in native Chinese cuisine wherein western ingredients are becoming more increasingly adopted.
The recipes are, for the most part, quite simple but a certain degree of competence in the kitchen is assumed. Generally, the instructions are pretty clear but occasionally the translation from Chinese to English is a bit shaky. Mostly, though, this is achieved a lot better than in other Chinese-English books.
The range of recipes on offer are not selected with a view to instructing the reader in any particular regional cuisine, or even the type of dish one might encounter in Chinese restaurants. However, by experimenting with dishes from different sections, one can develop a feel for the techniques and tastes that truly encompass the spirit Chinese cookery.
This is probably one of the best introductions to actual everyday Chinese cookery that you can find. A selection of books covering different regional cuisines is clearly a necessity for a decent library but this volume is a terrific introduction to the basics. It is one of the books I most often just flip through for ideas and I highly recommend it.