- Hardcover: 532 pages
- Publisher: Knopf; 1st edition (September 12, 1977)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0394496388
- ISBN-13: 978-0394496382
- Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 7.2 x 9.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.5 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #113,396 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Key to Chinese Cooking Hardcover – September 12, 1977
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Top Customer Reviews
If I were marooned for life on a well-stocked desert island, this would be one of my two cookbooks, Julia being the other one. As wonderful as Italian food is, and as great as Marcella Hazen's Italian cookbook is, Chinese cuisine (with its many regional diversities) is far richer and with far more subtleties -- only French cuisine is its equal. Haunt the used book stores, or on-line sources, and try to get this unparalleled book.
Kuo got everything right. In an era when no one had heard of dim sum or regional Chinese cuisine, she included long sections about ingredients, techniques (including improvisations when you lack authentic equipment), and cooking styles. Every technique introduced includes introductory recipes, such as steamed lemon chicken in the steaming section. There are also lots and LOTS of recipes for every conceivable category, and it probably goes without saying that they're uniformly excellent. The book falls open to spicy pork with peanuts; hot and sour soup; tangerine peel chicken; shrimp fried rice.
But what sets this apart is the writing and instructional style. Kuo has become my touchstone for friendly, technical writing. She knows the reader hasn't deep-fried a duck before, so she gives careful detailed steps that somehow manage to both reassure you and keep you moving. It's never too much information, making you feel as though a task is daunting. I was lucky to find this book when I still a cooking beginner, because I credit the author with making me unafraid to try new recipes and techniques.
My only criticism is that her estimates of serving portions are unreliable. Sometimes she'll say that a recipe serves 4, when served with rice, and we get just a meal for two. That's the case for one of our favorites, chicken in black bean sauce. (I must have a dozen such recipes. This is the one I use.)
Overall though - this is one of my favorite cookbooks. Highly recommended.
Result: I did, and my friends there finally began to enjoy and even compliment my Chinese cooking. And one friend whose mother never taught her to cook learned staying weekends at my apartment, reading the cookbook (she was an English major), and then following the clear directions. I gave her a copy for her wedding present. She is now a good cook, too!
The thing of the book is, Irene Kuo is a gifted teacher, and a very good writer to boot. If you like cookbooks, you could read this one just for sheer enjoyment. She presents, then totally demystifies key concepts that I had suspected I was missing but couldn't guess at. She gives you confidence. And yes, the recipes are very authentic, though they don't cover every region's cooking. It's so helpful that she lists the ingredients with their Chinese names, though in China these names can vary a tiny bit regionally, and so I'm thinking they may in the States, too (I still live abroad.)
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I've had this book for 25+ years, and I still go back to it constantly. A great range of dishes that cover various cooking techniques, from simple to complex--and with great... Read morePublished 19 days ago by K. F.
The key to Chinese cooking is my bible to Chinese cooking. Recipes are authentic and superb.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
I owned the book before and left it with my daughter. I cannot possibly say enough wonderful things about this book and the technique it teaches used in Chinese cooking. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Stephanie Gurland
I got my first copy of this book shortly after the first publication was released. I think it is the best English language Chinese cook book available. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Michael D. Fabing
I haven't tried any recipes yet, but I do cook Chinese food frequently, and have other Chinese cookbooks. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Adele B. Parsons
This book taught me to cook. Not just to cook Chinese food, but to cook any kind of food. I have been using this book since I was 13 years old and I still use it all the time at... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Steve S.
Very good cookbook. I learned a lot about the skills, techniques and unfamiliar ingredients used in Chinese cooking. I made lots of the recipes. They turned out so wonderfully! Read morePublished 10 months ago by hairyfishpaws
my Mother naught this book for me in the early 80's. Wore it out and now of puns another copy. Authentic Chinese.Published 11 months ago by URMyDitka
style of cooking was from the eastern part of china and use of sugar in most dishes. i wouldn't put her is the same class of Julia as advertised.Published 11 months ago by Gordon Quan