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I've been watching and enjoying random episodes of Ching-He Huang's cooking show on the new TV Food Channel. When I saw a copy of her cookbook on the Sale table at my local bookstore, I grabbed it. I'm very glad I did.
I have several Chinese cookbooks, but many of them are geared towards authenticity or east-meets-west. If I had to categorize Chinese Food Made Easy I'd say it's "30 minute Chinese meals." The recipes emphasize simplicity -- and also healthfulness. Foods that are traditionally deep fried, for instance, use only a few tablespoons of oil, and she turns to more natural sugars (like honey). There's rarely a long list of ingredients; I have most of these items in my pantry. (But then I have a good Chinese market relatively nearby, making it easy to stock up.)
So far, we've made three of her recipes: Scallops with black rice vinegar and ham; Sichuan orange beef with shitake mushrooms; and soy and sesame green beans. All were under a half hour, start-to-finish, and each were delicious. On my upcoming list: Seafood congee (which uses one of those frozen "mixed seafood" packets I see at Trader Joe's but am never sure how best to use), fast hot and sour noodle pot (on the TV show she demonstrated how to make this in less time than a ramen noodle mix), and mango chicken.
My only quibble is her portion sizes. We don't eat a lot, but the scallop recipe made a pretty light dinner. You probably do need at least one accompaniment.
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I have enjoyed this show on the Cooking Channel so I thought I'd give the book a try. As advertised the recipes in the book are easy to reproduce for us at home, we have a pretty good pantry so the ingredients are most often at hand. We've now tried four recipes out of the book with mixed results. The Chicken Chow Mein was fun and easy to whip up and is a do-again for us. The Orange Beef however was disappointing- preparing and seasoning it as directed resulted in a bland dish. We made some notations to spice this up the next time we make it and moved on to two other dishes: Five Spice Roasted Chicken pieces and Smacked Cucumber and Sesame Salad. Having learned from our previous experience we doubled the strength of the marinade for the chicken and doubled the amount of dressing for the salad while keeping the amount of salad vegies the same. Both dishes turned out to be very flavorful using our method. Each of the four dishes have been easy to prepare so the book fulfills it's promise on that level. For our tastes however the spicing level- and I'm not referring to heat- as written is just too bland for our tastes. We don't mind being a little creative in our own kitchen however so the book is a keeper and we're going to be making several more of the recipes.
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I bought the book a few months ago and since then ive looked through the pretty photography and not used it.
The food at first glance looks nice and interesting enough, but when looking at ingriedients, there doesnt seem to be something appealing.
I'm a huge fan of chinese food and anything oriental, and i do have other books. But i'm not sure what it is with this book. It just seemed to be a never ending list of ingredients to make just one meal, and then those ingredient s are seldom used in any other recipe!
If you are looking for an easy way of cooking chinese food without having to trawl through supermarkets buying lots of ingredients for EACH dish - don't buy this book it will end up on your shelf to be looked through occasionally but never used.
I would score it a 1 or 2, but because i didn't end up actually making anything in it, i didn't want to push the rating down!