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81 of 86 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I was worried at first, but she pulled it off
I'm a pretty big fan of Fuchsias, having discovered her cookbooks when going through some nasty chinese food withdrawals in Texas after a move from NYC. Having been a chef, and not finding the Chinese food I craved, I set out to create, myself, what I needed. Ms Dunlop's books were by far above and beyond the other books I tried. Unlike most people, I preferred her second...
Published 19 months ago by Daniel Byrd

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67 of 72 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I wanted to love this book, but...
I am a long-time Dunlop fan (my "Land of Plenty" is falling apart at this point). Given how much I adore her Sichuan and Hunan cookbooks, I really, really wanted to love this book -- I literally ordered it within five minutes of knowing about its existence! Having explored this book for the last couple of weeks, however, I am very sad to admit that I feel quite "meh"...
Published 16 months ago by Rebecca


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81 of 86 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I was worried at first, but she pulled it off, January 25, 2013
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This review is from: Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking (Hardcover)
I'm a pretty big fan of Fuchsias, having discovered her cookbooks when going through some nasty chinese food withdrawals in Texas after a move from NYC. Having been a chef, and not finding the Chinese food I craved, I set out to create, myself, what I needed. Ms Dunlop's books were by far above and beyond the other books I tried. Unlike most people, I preferred her second book Revolutionary chinese cookbook (Hunan recipes) over Land of Plenty (Sichuan), and when her first new book in seven years was coming out I pre-ordered it asap. It arrived two weeks before its release date (!) and I opened it up to...a recipe I already knew??
General Tso's chicken, on page 122, I didn't need. First of all it's already on page 120 of Revolutionary, and I know it by heart, having cooked it about eight times a year for years. The next recipe I see is Pock-Marked Old Woman's Tofu...Hmm, I know that one too. It's on page 313 of Land of Plenty. Then I read the introduction and she's retelling a story that's in her memoir Shark's fin and Sichuan pepper! Damn, her third cookbook is a greatest hits?
Not quiet. I was shocked at first, but the Pock-Marked tofu was a new vegetarian version, the book is a lot thicker than the last two (and I needed to dig more, I guess), and her General Tso's chicken is so good, it's ok to publish it twice. She noted in the end of her memoir she was thinking of going vegetarian, and a lot of these recipes are light on meat, or none at all. But the main emphases in this book are on lighter, healthier, more cost effective Chinese recipes, not on her own personal diet.
I've already cooked a few recipes, and have read a bunch more, I'm impressed. A lot of work has gone into this book. My only complaint is I've had trouble finding some of her ingredients here, even when I wrote down the English and Chinese names of what I needed, and asked for help from my local huge Chinese grocery store. But her list is a British version of Chinese ingredients that I'm looking for in Texas...I'll make up what I can't find (read Melissa Clark's cookbooks for the fine art of making it up as you go along). Well done, Fuchsia, you've impressed me again.
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67 of 72 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I wanted to love this book, but..., April 2, 2013
By 
Rebecca (New York, NY) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking (Hardcover)
I am a long-time Dunlop fan (my "Land of Plenty" is falling apart at this point). Given how much I adore her Sichuan and Hunan cookbooks, I really, really wanted to love this book -- I literally ordered it within five minutes of knowing about its existence! Having explored this book for the last couple of weeks, however, I am very sad to admit that I feel quite "meh" about it.

Most obviously (and as other reviewers have already pointed out), many recipes are repetitions or variants of those contained in her previous books. While this might make the book more complete as a stand-alone cookbook, it gets quite tedious for those of us with complete Dunlop collections.

This book has some minor annoyances, including weight measurements for small amounts of peanuts, ginger, etc. -- I find the teaspoon/tablespoon/ballpark approach from her previous books far more practical. Also, some directions are quite strange: wilting spinach before stir-frying seemed like an interesting idea, but yielded no practical difference (in my opinion).

More disturbingly, I have found that many of the dishes in this book just don't taste that good and/or are very uninteresting. Out of the dishes I've cooked from this book so far, I'd say that about 40% were "meh" (required additional soy sauce/vinegar/sesame oil/chicken powder to be palatable -- probably wouldn't cook them again), 40% were "alright" (will cook them once in a while), and only 20% were "great" (loved it -- will add to my list of frequently repeated favorites). In contrast, I would put the breakdown for Dunlop's other cookbooks at about 5% "meh", 25% "alright" and 70% "great". For your information, the smoked tofu with celery and peanuts, cold chicken with a spicy Sichuanese sauce, tiger salad, stir-fried tofu with black beans and chili, stir-fried oyster and shiitake mushrooms with garlic and spicy buckwheat noodles all fell into the "meh" category for me. The clay bowl chicken and the stir-fried oyster mushrooms with chicken (with some extra chicken powder) fell into the "great" category. Also, everything with fermented tofu was "great" to me, but that's because... well... fermented tofu!

Given that Dunlop is a very accomplished cook, I can only speculate in what went wrong here. I think that one reason could be that this book relies quite significantly on subtle flavors of natural ingredients, and a lot of the produce for sale in the US is just not that flavorful. If the produce generally available in the UK is of higher quality and her recipes are calibrated to that, then maybe that could account for the poor results in my kitchen.

Finally, I thought I noticed a slight skew toward things like celery and bell peppers and away from things like bitter melon (my favorite vegetable!), but I realize that things like these are 100% a matter of personal preferences!

On the whole, I give "Every Grain of Rice" three stars. If this was Dunlop's only book (so that the repetitions wouldn't be an issue), then maybe I would have given it four.
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43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better and better!, January 24, 2013
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This review is from: Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking (Hardcover)
I was thrilled to see all the pictures upon opening this book! The photographs of many, many completed dishes helps with knowing great ways to present these tasty, tasty recipes. My family and I cooked our way through "Land of Plenty" and the "Revolutionary Chinese Cook Book." We preferred "Land of Plenty" and this book, "Every Grain of Rice," is a fabulous accompaniment because it has so many greens and vegie dishes. So far they have all been delicious and have not needed adjustments (which is not the case with other cook books!). Smokey Eggplant with Garlic and Spinach with Sesame Dressing are two recipes that my family wants to have a constant supply of in the refrigerator so they can snack on them whenever they can. We tried and loved the Stir-fried Black Bean and Chilli with Sichuanese Green Soy Bean Salad and Smacked Cucumber in Garlicky Sauce. In fact, we loved it so much we decided to make all of the recipes with cucumber (because it was unusual for us to cook cucumbers)in them and did not find a bad one. Finally, we use Nishiki Haiga rice instead of Thai Jasmine or the traditional short grain. It holds the sauces really well because, with haiga, the tough rice bran is removed, leaving the nutritious rice germ still attached to the kernel.
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52 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Chinese cookbook I've ever seen, January 30, 2013
By 
Howard (San Francisco, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking (Hardcover)
First, a little background on me--I'm Chinese American. I grew up in Los Angeles in an immigrant household eating a lot of Chinese food, and being exposed to lots of different Chinese food. I've taken many trips to China, and I absolutely love eating and cooking Chinese food. I probably have no less than 10 Chinese cookbooks (well maybe fewer as I've gotten rid of a bunch over the years), and I've continued to hunt for a great one. Well, this is it--this is a fantastic book filled with a variety of recipes, ranging from highly classic dishes to more modern ones (e.g., tofu with avocado? (it's delicious))

What separates this book from many other Chinese cookbooks are what's beyond the recipes. There's what I call a glossary in the back with a comprehensive set of ingredients, sauces (sometimes specific brands to buy) with detailed descriptions. Also, many recipes have suggested variations. I also really enjoy some of the background/stories on some of the recipes (e.g., some were highly extolled by current chefs)

What this isn't is a broad survey of Chinese cuisine, but there are so many recipes that are simple and delicious. I must have marked/tabbed so many recipes for cooking!

Enjoy! Another great book from Fuchsia Dunlop!
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Homestyle Chinese Food, emphasis on good vegetables, March 28, 2013
This review is from: Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking (Hardcover)
This is a more homestyle Chinese food cookbook, laden with great photographs on nearly every page so if you are not familiar with a particular recipe, you can tell a bit about it. I wanted this book for the leafy greens, which are something I love in Chinese cooking. I had a trip to Shanghai and Beijing a decade ago, and what I remember loving about the food in China were the dark, leafy greens; a simple lunch at a factory canteen served sauteed whole bok choy and I have not been able to reproduce that simple, flavorful dish, which was completely vegetarian and yet an entire, light lunch with a bowl of steamed rice.

Though the book isn't completely vegetarian, there is an emphasis on vegetables, and some vegetarian versions of fairly famous dishes such as Ma Po Tofu ("Pock-marked Old Woman's Tofu--a hot and spicy chili-like dish usually made with minced pork, tofu, chilis and scallions.) Even some well-known chicken dishes such as Kung Pao Chicken get a vegetarian twist, so vegans can use this book (dairy not being used in Chinese food. The dishes are mainly Southern Chinese, featuring vegetables and sauces and especially mushrooms. The steamed chicken and mushrooms is a classic and one I really like.

For those not so familiar with Chinese cooking technique, there is a chapter on tools, on technique and a big glossary of terms and foods. The techniques for cutting are detailed, and that's very important. The way you cut food for Chinese cuisine, especially vegetables, affects how fast they cook and their final texture in the dish, as well as the appearance. If you can't find the ingredients in the grocery store (ours only carries the most basic sauces, noodles and tofu) you probably can find an Asian grocery nearby or in the nearest large urban area. Even our relatively rural, military-town state capital has several Asian markets that carry everything I need, so you may be equally in luck where you live.

The chapters include:
Cold Dishes
Tofu base Dishes
Meat
Poultry and Eggs
Fish and Seafood
Beans
Leafy Greens
Garlic and Chives
Eggplant, Peppers and Squash
Root Vegetables
Mushrooms
Rice
Soups
Noodles
Dumplings
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Real Chinese, January 31, 2013
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This review is from: Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking (Hardcover)
As a high school student, I worked as a hostess in a family friend's Chinese restaurant. They served the usual gloppy, Americanized fare on the steam tables of the buffet. Come closing time, however, the waitresses and staff would sit down to a real Chinese meal - a few stir fried vegetable dishes with a smattering of meat, steamed rice, and soup. The recipes in this book are much more like the staff meal than the buffet fare, and we can all be thankful for that. Gong Bao (Kung Pow) and General Tso's Chicken are here, but they are infinitely better than their fast-food versions. The emphasis is on vegetables here, with meat to add flavor, rather than being the centerpiece of the meal. This is a very sensible and economical way to eat, given that the price of meat is always going up.

A few words about authenticity - my experience of my mother's Chinese cooking tells me that adaptability and flexibility are important. She used dry sherry instead of rice wine, and gave Western vegetables like zucchini the stir-fry treatment. Once you stock your pantry with staple ingredients, like the black bean sauce and fermented tofu, you can make whatever is fresh and local to you into a fine Chinese meal.

My only gripe is that Dunlop uses Thai jasmine rice for the rice dishes. This seems very odd to me, but perhaps it is just a personal preference on her part. My mom always used short grain japonica type rice like Kokuho Rose, and so do I.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Chinese cookbook I've seen, March 22, 2013
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This review is from: Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking (Hardcover)
As a kid, I spent time in China and Taiwan. Chinese food has always been my 'comfort food,' and I have strong memories any time I smell the spices, oil and steam of Chinese cooking.

I love making my own food - especially things that many of us think you 'have to buy out,' so I've bought several Chinese cookbooks in the past. For the most part, they seem to assume that your kitchen is stocked like you just shopped for a 1950s-era Joy of Cooking party. That means that flavors are often off, and bad substitutes are often used.

This book is different. There recipes are simple and straightforward; for the most part, the dishes here can be cooked as a weekday dinner instead of a weekend production. Heavy on vegetarian options (a big plus for me), the recipes here are simple, direct, and feel and taste real. Just as important, she gives you the kinds of tips and information you need to start improvising around a recipe, to make it yours.

If you want to cook quality, everyday Chinese at home, this is the first (and possibly only) book you should buy.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book has exceeded my expectations., July 5, 2013
By 
William Brazier (Northville, MI United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking (Hardcover)
I bought this book about a month ago. My goal was to be able to produce good tasting and healthy meals that replicated the flavor of some of the meals that I have experienced in China. This book has exceeded my expectations. The recipes are easy and often fast to make. I think that they taste exceptionally good. Most importantly I am able to meet my diet desires of moderate protein and very low carbs., along with high quality fats.

I have made 37 of her recipes to date and my goal is to do as many as possible depending of diet and produce availability. Some of the ingredients are not available in local stores but I have been able to find them on the internet with Amazon.com being my best source. Im am looking forward to producing the remaining recipes as more produce comes into season.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Chinese cook book one can find, April 2, 2013
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This review is from: Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking (Hardcover)
I've been a Fuchsia fan since "Land of Plenty". I remembered when I saw that book - being a Chinese native, I had my doubts of course - a British gal wrote a book on Sichuan cooking? A few pages in, I knew she was the real thing. I was highly impressed by the depth of her research & her courage in studying in Chinese. If I was impressed by "Land of Plenty", I was touched by "Every Grain of Rice", in the sense that the recipes in this book brought up my childhood memories - all the familiar dishes my mom & grandma made for us day in & day out. My eyes became moist when I saw dishes such as "Steamed Eggs" & "Pork with Garlic Stem" so beautifully presented & explained in detail. Also, as soon as you open the book, there's a Chinese poem that every child in China knows - "... every grain of rice in our bowls is filled with the bitterness of his labor." It immediately brought back the memory of my grandma telling me to finish each grain of rice in my bowl, or else I'd be disciplined. I'm not from Sichuan so I've always appreciated the glossary & instructions on how to make stocks & sauces, which is presented in this book too. I also LOVE all the stunning photos in this book, which I had wished "Land of Plenty" had. This book makes me want to stay home & cook all day long. If you are looking for a Chinese cook book that teaches you the REAL Chinese family cooking, look no further. This is it!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite cookbook bar none, February 24, 2014
By 
J. Seifert (Indianapolis, IN USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking (Hardcover)
I'm an American but my wife comes from China. It's really hard to find a good Chinese cookbook in English that is both authentic yet uses ingredients that aren't too exotic. Ms. Dunlop has hit a home run on both counts with this one.

Don't take the subtitle to mean "dull" or "boring" dishes. It really means "easy to prepare" or "inexpensive ingredients". I'll usually make two to four dishes at a time for dinner, and it's not unusual to not have much left over because it's all so delicious. I've probably tried 30 of the 150 or so recipes so far and I'd classify at least half as "excellent". It's so good that we've stopped going out to Chinese restaurants to eat. It's tastier and cheaper just to eat at home.

A word about finding the ingredients: while you might find most of the ingredients you need at your local supermarket, you'll need to venture to an Asian grocery store to find the remaining ones. Even then, a few ingredients have been difficult to track down for me. That's partially because I live in Indianapolis; a larger metropolitan area with better Chinese grocery stores would have a better selection than what I can find.

Every Grain of Rice also contains an extensive introduction detailing some of the equipment and cooking techniques central to Chinese cooking. These tips have been invaluable for me as a cook, even if I'm not cooking Chinese food.

This is the one cookbook that I use at least every week, and sometimes several times a week. Thanks to Ms. Dunlop, I'm known to many of my Chinese friends as the best Chinese cook they know. If you have any interest in authentic Chinese cooking, buy this book now.
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Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking
Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking by Fuchsia Dunlop (Hardcover - February 4, 2013)
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