Customer Reviews: Chinese Cuisine (Wei-Chuan's Cookbook) (English and Traditional Chinese Edition)
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on January 22, 2001
I bought this book when I was living in Hong Kong, and given the availability of truly excellent Chinese food, cooking the same dishes at home was always a disappointment. This book makes it very easy and keeps the recipes simple and true.
Because I'm Chinese and not fascinated by the history or mysticism or "magic" of Chinese cooking, I cannot tolerate cookbooks that are filled with little details about how some great aunt escaped imprisonment, immigrated across the seas and brought this very recipe to the outside world!
Each recipe is accompanied by a full color photo -- not the most sophisticated presentation, and certainly not as slickly produced as other cookbooks -- which is incredibly useful. This shows how large or small to chop the ingredients, how thick a sauce is supposed to be, how everything looks when it's done correctly.
In addition, there is a explanatory introduction about Chinese cooking tools, techniques and ingredients. This is a very useful section, and above all other cookbooks in my kitchen, this is the most important part of my collection.
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on May 30, 2000
Several years ago I decided I would learn to cook Chinese food. I was engaged to a wonderful Chinese woman (who is now my wife). She loves good Chinese food but doesn't cook very well. I'm American, and I didn't know how to cook any kind of food, Chinese or American. I started with this book, studied it, and went to the local Asian grocery. Pretty soon, I was competently cooking real Chinese food that my wife liked a lot(and I like it too!).
The book is bilingual in English and Chinese, and every recipe has a photograph to help you arrange it and see approximately how it should look. The instructions are generally simple and well organized. The recipes tend to be on the simple side, not particularly elaborate. Where some cookbooks will call for a recipe to have 4 steps and 12 ingredients, this one may call for 3 steps and 9 ingredients.
Nevertheless some of my most reliable and delicious recipes come from this book. The Ma Po Tofu recipe is quick and excellent for example. I notice that the book is reticent to call for large amounts of spices, especially for Sichuan dishes. So just double or triple the amount of hot bean paste, garlic, etc. if you like.
One drawback I've noticed in this book and the publisher's series is the tendency for the binding to fail, allowing pages to become loose. It doesn't matter that much because if you like it as much as I do, you'll have grease and sauce on the pages anyway.
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on January 14, 1999
This book lets you make authentic Chinese dishes, from banquet showpieces to homestyle dishes.These are the most authentic recipes for Chinese dishes I have found in English. Here, you will not find, as in some other cookbooks I have seen, the chicken being boiled when the traditional recipe calls for steaming, or julienned carrots substituted for the julienned bamboo traditionally used in the dish. This book and the other, more specialized Chinese cookbooks published by Wei-Chuan (the venerated and most famous cooking school in Taiwan), are the only Chinese cookbooks I use. _Chinese Cuisine_ lets me create exactly the Chinese dishes I loved as a child, for it's the very same book that my mother used, albeit in an earlier edition, as a young wife and mother in Taiwan.
These recipes are thoroughly tested, both by the Wei-chuan cooking school and by generations of students and readers. As an American-raised Chinese who knew little to begin with about Chinese cooking methods, I have made about half of the recipes in the book and had spectacular results every time. Each recipe is meticulously laid out, step by step, and accompanied by a glorious, mouth-watering photograph of the finished dish. In each recipe, photographs also demonstrate specialized techniques called for by the recipe. I also find very helpful the introductory section of the book that describes and shows clear photographs of the sometimes unusual fresh produce and preserved foods that are used in the recipes, so that someone unfamiliar with them could walk into an Asian food store and buy them by sight, or even by pointing out the picture and Chinese name of the food to a sales clerk, as I have sometimes done. Also valuable is the introductory section setting forth sample menues for family meals as well as multi-course feasts and explaining the traditional principles that the Chinese have always used in selecting the combination of dishes for a meal.
This wonderful book, along with the other Wei-Chuan Chinese cookbooks, is the only one I recommend when westerners ask me which Chinese cookbook to get. It's the best!
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on February 16, 2007
I bought this book so that i can get more ideas and choices in my daily dishes. i've read many great feed back from here and therefore i went ahead and bought the book. I was really excited when the book arrived, but as soon as i open the cover, all my excitement quickly disappeared. There are several problemswith this book.

first one is the pictures. Perhaps, this book might be one of the earlier edituion publish by wei Chaun publishing company, therefore the photo doesn't show the detail process in how to hand the ingredients. I noticed that other books that were published in the late80s and early 90's have pictures that are much more useful becuase it shows how things should look at each step. This book only have pictures of the finished product.

Second problem is their rescipes. half of the book involved simple stir fry stuff. beef with onion and Sa te souce, beef with mix snow peas, beef with veggie in oyster souce. i guess this is what home cooking is all about. you make one dish. the next one you can add a different veggetable and call it a new recipes. the souces are all the same.. (corn starch, soy, sugar and water). with a tiny bit of cooking experience and interest, anyone can come up with those stuff. the same goes with the stir-fry chicken and pork dishes. it volved the same style just different meat. I know that in chinese home cooking, most of the time you used the same source, brown soy thickened with cornstarched, either that or black bean or oyster ource which you can buy in a jar from a chinese store. I am not crazy about the veggetarian their soups dishes in this book. The dishes are too traditional. it involved ingredients that are loved by older people like my grandmother. younger generation don't usually endore these dishes.

Other reipes i found useless are the appetizers (ham, chinse BBQ pork, beef shanks, and chinse sausage, sliced hard boil eggs and roasted peanuts, cashews). first of all , the cold cut meats and nuts. can be purchased. 99% of chinese people don't eat these except when dine in restaurant. most meats are something buy from stores.

Finally, i should mention that i am chinese. i have chinese home cooking all my life. I also travel to HK and Taiwan quite frequently, so i am very familiar with many different dishes and various cooking styles. I consider myself as a rather experienced cook. I can make just about everything i've can tast. I am dissappointed that this book only have one type of cooking style, that is basic stir-frying. I know most of the stuff in the book already. the recipes are the very basic home cooking recipes. there's no new ideas. I've tried several recipes from the book, and the result was a very dissappointing. and I am not impress with this book.

It is rather difficult to make recommendation for this book. on one hand, this book contains many simply stir fry recipes useful for those who are not familiar with chinese cooking. However, you do need have cooking experience to be successful. you need to understand chinese ingredients in order to follow these recipes. If you're chinese you probably already know how to stir fry most of the stuffs from the book, and hating all the soups and appertizer becuase of the weird ingredients in them.
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on November 20, 2005
This was my first Chinese cookbook, and I've been using it almost two years now. The food is fantastic and the first few pages gives a description/introduction of cooking methods and indgredients which I thought was nice. There are so many types of Chinese food (since China is so huge), but the author managed to squeeze in a little bit of everything. I will be definately buy more Wei Chuan books in the future. One thing to note, however, is that most of these dishes are banquet family style dishes. If you are looking to make single serving dishes like "Niu Rou Mian" (Beef Soup Noodles), then buy another book. Some other classic Chinese foods that I was hoping I would get, such as fried rice and dumplings are missing from this book, although I'm sure they're present in other Wei Chuan books.

Another thing I thought was interesting: This book is in both Chinese and English. If you read Chinese, you'll notice the Chinese versions of many recipes tell you to use msg, and to reuse oil, whereas in the English version, msg is omitted and oil is often thrown out and replaced. I guess the author or publisher took local preferences into consideration...
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on October 26, 2005
What's unique about this Chinese cookbook (as well as others in this series) is that it caters to the Chinese palate(rather than adapted for the Western palate). One finds favorite authentic homestyle recipes that one would not find in restaurants or other Chinese cookbooks that cater to an American audience. In fact, the book is written in Chinese with English translations. The fact that this series includes English translations makes it possible for first generation (and beyond) Chinese Americans (who can't read Chinese) to make dishes that they remember from mom's traditional home cooking. Recipes are easy and there is a picture for every dish.
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on February 1, 2004
This book is a good introduction to the Wei-Chuan series for anyone with basic kitchen skills. It includes clear explanations of techniques and ingredients, with no pandering or dumbing-down to appeal to western tastes. As a Japanese-American in L.A. who cooks a lot, I may have a slight bias, as a.) i've been happily eating and preparing different Asian cuisines for some time, and b.) all ingredients are easily available and can be bought fresh at local stores. I'm particularly fond of the soups and the great tofu recipes.
But don't be discouraged if you're limited by your local grocer...the sauces and techniques are authentic enough to make up for any creative substitutions you might try.
I can't stand foo-foo cookbooks and food snobbism. But like others who like to cook, I often end up giving away books by the latest "hot" chef that have been given to me by well-meaning friends and family. This book, though, is a real find (and a great gift).
If you're looking for authenticity and substance in Chinese cooking, Wei-Chuan is the way to go.
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on September 18, 2002
My mother (who is Taiwanese) has a couple books by the author and when I started to stock up on my own collection of cookbooks I bought this.
The recipes are excellent, with a photo of each completed dish. There is also a side comment in most of the recipes that tell which style of Chinese cooking the dish hails from (Peking, Cantonese, Taiwanese, etc.)
Many recipes I hadn't even heard of or tried even though my mother makes a LOT of Chinese food. This really excited me because of the opportunity this presents to me. I was even surprised to see a recipe for shrimp that I had tried once in a restaurant that I enjoyed. I was under the impression that I would never be able to find a recipe for that!
On the other hand, this book is not for the faint of heart. The book has no "Americanized" recipes and incorporates many dishes that Americans would find repulsive. Soup with chicken feet in it, anyone?
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on January 22, 2004
I had this book for more than three years, originally took from my sister who owned this book for another 7 years (I am an international student from Taiwan, but before coming to the US, I never cooked.) The ingredients the book use are easy to find, no something that I have no ideas about (believe me, not every Chinese knows what those ingredients are and what they are for), and the steps are easy to follow (each dish has 5 steps the most). Most importantly, the final dishes taste exactly like they should. And if you don't have all the ingredients the book asks, don't worry, just be creative, add something similar. Believe me, the dishes in this book are those you can have when visiting Taiwan and China.
Stop the yuckie Chinese take-outs, start cooking the authentic and easy Chinese dishes.
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on May 20, 2002
I am an American-born and raised Caucasian and have never lived overseas. I do have a large circle of Chinese friends, all of whom were raised in China, Hong Kong or Taiwan. I love Chinese food and am tired of the 'American restaurant' style of Chinese food. I wanted to be able to cook the food that is served at my friends' homes. I have finally found a book that has recipes that I can follow that can get me there. I try these recipes on my friends now and frequently get 'This is great. This is how my mother used to make it.' or 'Now I don't have to go to Chinatown to get good food. I'll come to your house'. I will say that I have to study the book. It may not for a complete beginner to Chinese cooking. The different techniques, ingredients and recipes may be too much for someone who is only used to frying hamburgers. But the recipes are easy to follow. The pictures show step-by-step procedures which are extremely helpful. I carry this book with me to Asian markets when buying some ingredients. I may not know the correct name for a food item, but when I show them the cookbook the shopkeeper always get me the correct ingredient. I also found that the section on techniques was extremely helpful. I have 4 books from this series and love all of them. The 2 'essentials' are Chinese Cuisine and Chinese Snacks. I plan to soon buy a couple more of the series. There is drawback -- I have started to serve some of this food to other American raised friends and now they too have raised their standards on Chinese food and don't like restaurant food. Ignorance was bliss.
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