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A Spoonful of Ginger : Irresistible Health-Giving Recipes from Asian Kitchens Hardcover – April 20, 1999

40 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Part cookbook, part primer of Chinese medicine, Nina Simonds's A Spoonful of Ginger offers dietary advice, herbal home remedies, and lively, unintimidating Asian recipes for the American home cook. Try Braised Duck with Tangerine Peel and Sweet Potato as a cure for high blood pressure. Baked Black Bean Shrimp might be just the dish to get you over that bout of depression. Simonds presents the ailing reader with concoctions to relieve everything from hangovers to frostbite.

And lovers of fine food need not despair--medical advice is kept brief, presumably to make room for more delicious recipes. For example, Steamed Fish with Black Mushrooms and Prosciutto makes no claims to cure anything but hunger. And any volume on health food that features a substantial section on pork (check out Spicy Pork Tenderloin with Leeks and Fennel) can hardly be called austere or old-fashioned. With tastes from all over Asia represented, from Indian curries to Japanese miso, these 200 dishes are tasty riffs on Chinese themes that should cure even the most jaded of palates. --David Kalil

From Publishers Weekly

Diverging from what she believes is the Western tendency to regard food as the "enemy," Asian food authority Simonds (Classic Chinese Cuisine; Asian Noodles) has compiled a cookbook espousing the Asian holistic philosophy of food as a "nurturing, benevolent friend that maintains and restores health." Simonds describes the Chinese holistic approach to food and eating as one that is in sync with the seasons, matched to individual body type and specific developmental periods (infancy through mature adulthood). She also explains how the key concepts of yin and yang are applied to achieve dietary balance and harmony. Divided into soups, seafoods, poultry, meats, vegetables and "neutralizers" (rice, breads and noodles), each of the 200 recipes contains purported therapeutic properties based on traditional Chinese medicine: Spicy Garlic Lobster is recommended for impotence and improving appetite, and Red-Cooked Lamb with Sweet Potatoes will help with general weakness and anemia. Engaging anecdotes and sidebars spoon-feed nuggets of Chinese holistic wisdom (for example, ginger is believed to rid the body of toxins, and duck dishes are prescribed to alleviate dizziness from hypertension). The last three chapters are devoted specifically to "food as medicine," including immune system-fortifiers tofu and soybeans, therapeutic sweet soups (Steamed Asian Pears with Honey and Almonds, for sore throats) and constitutional tonics (Lotus Root Cooler, for detoxifying the liver). Prescribing recipes for wellness in easily palatable prose, Simonds offers a well-researched and practical guide to holistic cooking (and eating) with sensuous, Eastern flair.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1 edition (April 20, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375400362
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375400360
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #891,341 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Nina Simonds is one of the country's leading authorities on Asian cooking and is an award-winning journalist. She is the author of 11 books on Chinese cuisine and culture, including the best-selling Asian Noodles and A Spoonful of Ginger, which won both the IACP and the James Beard Foundation Book Award for health. Simonds' last book Spices of Life: Simple and Delicious Recipes for Great Health was selected by Cooking Light Magazine as their #1 choice for the best "Healthy" cookbook published in the last 25 years. She has won three James Beard awards. Her website with innovative video blogs (www.spicesoflife.com) was launched in February of 2007 and is featured regularly on The Daily Beast. Her articles have appeared at GourmetLive.com, Epicurious.com, and in the "Off Duty" section of The Wall Street Journal.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

108 of 109 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 18, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This is one of the best books for busy people who want to eat healthy, flavorful meals. I've prepared several dishes from this book and every one is a winner. Simonds' recipes use easy to find ingredients; they are quick to prepare and, best of all, they are delicious. The flavors are crisp and clean. If your only experience with Asian food is the local carry-out Chinese outlet, you will be amazed at what Asian home cooking can taste like.In addition, Simmond provides a fascinating insight into traditional Chinese medicine. This is a wonderful companion book her excellent "Asian Noodle."
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53 of 53 people found the following review helpful By A cookbook enthusiast on March 3, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I got this book online a week ago after thumbing through it at my local bookstore. Already I've made two of the recipes in the book, and they tasted heavenly! This cookbook is a MUST for the Asian foods enthusiast. Very easy to follow instructions, and easy to find ingredients. Contains recipes from many different Asian cuisines. I bought it primarily because I was looking for good oriental soup recipes, and the soup recipe I tried last night is just outstanding (Chicken Miso Soup with Snow Peas). My 19-month old toddler just loved it, and asked for seconds. I also tried a vegetable dish with a nice sauce, and again my little girl surprised me by eagerly eating all the veggies. The sauce is very versatile, and I've used it a second time with other vegetables I had on hand. Highly recommend this cookbook!
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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful By sharon topi on July 2, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I absolutely love this cookbook! I have searched for years to find a good Asian cookbook and this is it. Next to my Joy of Cooking, I can't live without it. The recipes are delicious, simple, easy to make; the ingredients easy to find (and I live in an area where not many people seem to be into Asian cuisine, unfortunately). Even those who don't care for most Asian food will find recipes they love in this book. My children love these recipes, and they are typical McDonald's lovin' preschoolers. Two thumbs up! You must give this cookbook a try! It is definitely the best Asian cookbook I have ever tested.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By alare_vw@hotmail.com on July 14, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I love this cookbook! The first day I recieved it I cooked from it, and the food is great. It is part cookbook, part reader, and part picture book. I highly recomend this!! Anyone who loves flipping through cookbooks will have hours of entertainment and lots of tasty dishes.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Cville Dad on May 22, 2002
Format: Hardcover
So far, the recipes I've prepared from this book have garnered nothing but raves. Many of the recipes are simple enough to prepare for weeknights, using few ingredients but very fresh ones. The result is fabulous flavor that you just can't get from your local takeout joint. The section about home remedies is really neat (I have yet to use the hangover helper recipe, but I'm sure it will come in handy one day).
I got this and Ming Tsai's "Blue Ginger" cookbook around the same time. I've barely cracked open Ming's book-the recipes are gorgeous but mostly inaccessible. If you are a newcomer to Asian cooking, I think "Spoonful of Ginger" is a delicious introduction.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By JT on February 26, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Very versatile and informative. It has a little Eastern philosophy mixed in for those who are interested (I am not).
I consider myself pretty strong as amateur cooks go (favorite book to cook from is the French Laundry cookbook), and am now able to include many Asian themes in my cooking.
Favorite recipes:
* Cinnamon-braised tofu with spinach (this will keep your guests guessing for about 10 minutes about what the heck they're eating)
* Poached pears in a sweet ginger sauce (not the actual recipe name, but that's what it was)
* Yin-yang shrimp (absolutely astounding)
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Esther Schindler TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 27, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I've had this cookbook for a number of years, and I freely admit that I haven't made every recipe in the book. There are some dishes, however, that have become standbys, such as the saucy ground turkey wrapped in lettuce leaves. (In fact, I just grabbed the book so I could make those lettuce wraps as my contribution to a potluck Halloween party -- everyone says, "This is better than PF Changs!")

It's not that these are the most authentic, knock-your-socks-off recipes. If I'm ready to spend a couple of hours putting together an awesome Asian meal, I'll turn to Barbara Tropp or to The Key To Chinese Cooking. However, the recipes in this book are solidly GOOD, with an underlying sense of healthful eating, and many recipes are vegetarian (or nearly so).

However, what makes this cookbook a winner is that the recipes are straightforward enough to make during the week, after an exhausting day at work (when something to balance your energy sounds most appealing -- doesn't "hot and sour salmon with greens" sound restorative?).

Plus, there's a good chance you have most of the ingredients you need in the house already, and can whip together something more interesting than "maybe I'll just open a can of chili." That's how the book falls open to the recipe for chile chicken with cashews -- I usually have a bag of frozen chicken breasts, a can of water chestnuts, scallions, soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, cashews... it doesn't ask for a heck of a lot more. A few minutes of rummaging around in the refrigerator, and I have a meal that sounds like I planned it.

Also, the healthy stuff -- yin-yang, and advice about food-based remedies (mussels are good to strengthen the kidneys, for instance) -- is enjoyable and educational.

Nice book. I recommend it.
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