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60 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Authentic Chinese Cuisine
This cookbook, like most of Eileen Yin-Fei Lo's cookbooks, is focused on authentic Chinese cuisine and is not a Chinese takeout cookbook. As the book does not cut corners, it includes the presence of some Chinese ingredients which may be difficult to find outside an Asian supermarket. For example, the cookbook includes a number of recipes which would be considered...
Published on January 8, 2010 by Eilie

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars WARNING FOR KINDLE USERS
I have started buying the kindle versions of cookbooks, as they are far easier to use on my tablet in the kitchen than hard copies. So far, this has almost uniformly been a success. Unfortunately, sometimes the ebook version is faulty -- as is true here. Certain quantities are missing in the ingredients listings -- it looks like any time there is a fraction, for example,...
Published 10 months ago by Amazon Customer


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60 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Authentic Chinese Cuisine, January 8, 2010
By 
Eilie (Philadelphia, PA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mastering the Art of Chinese Cooking (Hardcover)
This cookbook, like most of Eileen Yin-Fei Lo's cookbooks, is focused on authentic Chinese cuisine and is not a Chinese takeout cookbook. As the book does not cut corners, it includes the presence of some Chinese ingredients which may be difficult to find outside an Asian supermarket. For example, the cookbook includes a number of recipes which would be considered banquet or special occasion foods and include ingredients such as Shark's Fin and Bird's Nest. Nevertheless, this book does include a number of everyday recipes such as Ma Po Tofu and Hunan Hot and Spicy Shrimp, which can be made after a trip to the Asian foods aisle of most supermarkets, and provides useful recipes for Chinese sauces, such as XO sauce, which are usually purchased prepared. This cookbook is definitely geared toward people who are more accustomed to traditional Chinese cooking or are interested in how Chinese food is outside the local takeout place. Mastering the Art of Chinese Cooking includes a number of beautiful pictures of the prepared food and provides a taste of what Chinese home cooking can really be like.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book, but probably not for the beginning chef who's learning how to make spagetti., January 3, 2010
By 
Serena Wu (Philadelphia, PA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mastering the Art of Chinese Cooking (Hardcover)
I've been using this book for a month now, and I really enjoy it. Asian food in general can be intimidating because it requires ingredients that are almost impossible to find if you don't have access to an ethnic grocery or aren't willing to order some of the staples off the internet. I live in San Francisco and have access to both great Chinese stores and a lot of live produce both in italian markets and in Chinatown and this book has really helped me use obscure ingredients that otherwise I wouldn't know what to do with. And the receipes are REALLY GOOD.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My holy grail traditional chinese cookbook, January 13, 2010
By 
Rudy L. (San Francisco, CA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mastering the Art of Chinese Cooking (Hardcover)
First, she had me at shark's fin soup. I ordered this book and expecting elaborate chinese dishes and the author delivered. There were dishes that I was so excited to see and just cannot put the book down. The author does not take short cuts in any of her dishes. Though you may find some recipes that you can make on a typical weekday, there are also recipes that you may want to make on special occasions as well, such as Chinese New Year. For example, she shares the techniques on how to cook abalone, bird's nest, and she even shares recipes on the most popular dim sum dishes - the shrimp dumpling! I would say that if you enjoy cooking, you should want to at least have the knowledge of how to start from scratch. This book shares many recipes that I've always dreamed of learning. I'm glad I found this book!!!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Your daily go-to cookbook, November 16, 2011
This review is from: Mastering the Art of Chinese Cooking (Hardcover)
I've had this book for nearly two years now. I use it once a week on average. Over time, I've learned to make small changes, substitutes, OMISSIONS, and so forth. I've never let a lack of a local ingredient stop me from enjoying a particular combination of ingredients. I use dry sherry for my Chinese cooking wine, and I was shown this trick by several Chinese graduate students I lived with. I will tell you this: The hot and sour soup is wonderful. The Cantonese dishes are delicate and subtle. They are simple to prepare. If you assemble and prep all the ingredients at your leisure prior to cooking for a group, you can have a nice social engagement. The Cantonese dishes remind me of my time in Hong Kong, where I ate the most wonderful and satisfying meals of my life. I am so pleased to have this cookbook, simply because it saves me the 17 hour flight to Hong Kong.

You'll find the hotter, Sichuan dishes to be delightful. Of course you can cut back on the heat. The rice preparation is fool proof. We do have a clay pot, and it is fun to use, but you can use an enamel coated iron skillet as the companion for your wok. I now scramble eggs and a few other ingredients for breakfast in my well-seasoned wok. It is quicker than using a non-stick omelet pan and is much cleaner.

Here's the deal - the book is excellent. I have about 30 cookbooks. This is in my top three. I use this book the most. It is true that I have had professional training and ran a resort as a younger man, but I haven't been in this business for years. My wife has no training, and she has no problem with the dishes. If you are completely unfamiliar with the basics of cooking, this book can present challenges. However, pick up the simple dishes, like "Chicken with Chicken Legs". You don't need fancy special mushrooms - just substitute come cremini or even those canned mushrooms. Just get in there an COOK! Buy this book, and NEVER have soy sauced American Chinese food again.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mastering the Art of Chinese Cooking, February 27, 2011
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This review is from: Mastering the Art of Chinese Cooking (Hardcover)
I am enjoying this book and anticipate that I will continue to do so for a long time.It is not a complete Chinese cooking book in itself but supplements my collection. Of particular interest to me are many recipes for condiments and the boxes of additional information about a product or a method. It provides background information and history about cooking methods and specific dishes. The information about raw ingredients and equipment is detailed and helpful. The recipes are easy to follow with well set out lists of ingredients and clear methodologies. They are also delicious. The book is a large one. It is attractive and has many interesting photos.

Much is good about this book but I do have reservations. I find it frustrating that the photos of markets were not labeled with their location. I like to know where these places are. The author describes taking students to Chinese markets to familiarize then with products and buying in this way. While this no doubt works well in her cooking classes, I find her constant apparent praising of her own methods irritating and unhelpful, although a reader unfamiliar with these markets may gain valuable information. My final niggle is the inclusion of shark's fin recipes. The harvesting of shark's fins is unsustainable and cruel. Chinese cooking can stand tall without this exploitation.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, but time-consuming, July 28, 2010
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This review is from: Mastering the Art of Chinese Cooking (Hardcover)
Bought this book for my husband after he heard about it on NPR's best books of 2009 list. It's a great book that breaks Chinese cooking down into steps with lots of explanations. Everything he's made from it has been spectactular. However, keep in mind that it involves a lot of steps - many of the recipes call for several homemade stocks, oils, etc. It's worth it, just know what you're getting into.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic work, May 3, 2012
This review is from: Mastering the Art of Chinese Cooking (Hardcover)
This is a very stately, scholarly-looking book that sets out to teach the serious enthusiast of Chinese cookery how to master its many techniques and how to understand and appreciate the art.

From the start it is clear that the author is only going to show you how to produce traditional, authentic Chinese food rather than a western-constructed equivalent that can be found in many recipe books. There is no value judgement here, as there is scope for both to co-exist but you should be clear of your requirements and expectations in order to avoid disappointment.

This is a book that may become a very close companion to you, should you choose to study it and benefit from its wonderful knowledge as it is like having a very experienced teacher at your side.

The key building blocks, or ingredients, that go together to to produce various dishes are first examined in detail, as you need to learn about exactly what makes them tick and how they function together to work in harmony. Here the difference between an average meal and a great meal can vary tremendously by the careful selection of ingredients and spices. Then it is time to look at the various cooking utensils, such as woks and steamers, and to learn how even things like a humble cleaver or spatula can vary.

The book is broken into many smaller lessons, which makes it less daunting to learn a small bit at a time, and you can also dive straight in for a specific piece of knowledge as required. However you are strongly recommended to take the book from start to finish, even if you consider yourself a bit of an expert with Chinese food. You can never be too experienced to possibly learn something new or different. This reviewer is impressed at the level and quality of information being given to the reader as it gives a greater understanding to why certain things are "just needed" and it sheds light on many of the strange, yet curious ingredients that you might have have seen in a Chinese supermarket but not known how they are used.

Unlike many other books, this one tends to focus on the methods of cooking such as steaming and stir-frying, focussing a lot of knowledge and recipes around a particular skill-set at a time. All the time you are being introduced to additional ingredients, hints and tips, techniques or just golden nuggets of information, enabling you to build up your knowledge as you read through. It is due to this approach why it is recommended to read the book sequentially!

At the same time you start to gain an appreciation as to the wide regional differences within Chinese cookery as it concerns certain tastes, ingredients and styles. The deeper you get into this book the finer granularity of the knowledge you will receive.

The book concludes with a great index as befits such a tome. This reviewer cannot praise this book enough. It is a book designed for serious study instead of being just a recipe book for a typical family meal. The price might appear high compared to other books, but the quality of knowledge and its overall format are unsurpassed. Short of being born of Chinese extraction and learning at your mother's side, this might be the only way of working towards attaining a true and authentic understanding of Chinese food preparation, enjoyment and the greater culture-at-large.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is a masterpiece, November 28, 2012
By 
Craig (Rochester, NY, United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mastering the Art of Chinese Cooking (Hardcover)
This is my favorite book in my kitchen. The recipes are delicious, and there is a ton of information beyond the how-to directions. The quality and detail put into every page of this book make it a prized possession. I had never cooked Chinese dishes prior to making the recipes in this book, and now I feel confident making oils, stocks, stir-frying, and shopping at Asian markets.

This book, however is not for everyone. The recipes are complex, involved, and often require ingredients you wont have on hand unless you've created a Chinese pantry. My first 6 months of owning this book I never attempted any of the recipes because they were intimidating. They often call for homemade oils, stocks, or sauces made in bulk from other parts of the book. I found that I had to plan my week to really utilize this book: Shop on Monday, make the stock and oil on Tuesday, create the dish on Wednesday. But it's always been worth it.

Chinese cooking had to become a hobby of mine to properly utilize this book, but it's been extremely rewarding, and the food is amazing.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars OMG, this is a dream come true for learning Chinese cooking!, August 4, 2010
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This review is from: Mastering the Art of Chinese Cooking (Hardcover)
I write this review as one who has been stir frying for many years, but never had a real Chinese cookbook, nor ever learned from anyone how to cook Chinese in an authentic way. I heard about this book on The Splendid Table podcast as a recommendation for the book to get to really learn how to cook authentic Chinese. I ordered it immediately, and holy cow, the lady on the show was right!

I have no idea how it compares to other books about learning to cook Chinese, but this is exactly what I've been wanting for years but never bothered to look for.

It's not just recipes - it's the philosophy of various kinds of Chinese cooking set in the cultural context from which it came, with lucid, informative, and fun reasonings and descriptions of what individual ingredients do, why they're used, and how they are working with the other ingredients to bring out flavors, textures, and aromas.

From the basics of how to make broth and cook rice to highly advanced dishes, she covers a huge range of styles from different geographies, and makes it all sing with her word pictures and personal stories and observations.

It's also beautifully made - this is a seriously heavy hardback book with glorious full-color photographs. A work of art by itself.

Highly recommended for anyone who wants to learn how to cook in a Chinese style, or who just wants to know more about the hows and whys of Chinese food.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars WARNING FOR KINDLE USERS, March 25, 2014
By 
Amazon Customer (Ann Arbor, MI USA) - See all my reviews
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I have started buying the kindle versions of cookbooks, as they are far easier to use on my tablet in the kitchen than hard copies. So far, this has almost uniformly been a success. Unfortunately, sometimes the ebook version is faulty -- as is true here. Certain quantities are missing in the ingredients listings -- it looks like any time there is a fraction, for example, 1/4 cup, the ebook simply lost the imput. It will say just "cup", instead, and you have no idea whether that means 1/4 or 1/3 or 5 3/4 or what. I think the recipes are probably still mostly usable, at least to anyone familiar with Chinese cooking, but they're not going to be exact (and the author obviously likes exactitude).

The recipes *look* delicious, and if you have the hard copy, they probably are. Alas, the kindle copy is not as useful.
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Mastering the Art of Chinese Cooking
Mastering the Art of Chinese Cooking by Eileen Yin-Fei Lo (Hardcover - October 28, 2009)
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