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The Breath of a Wok Hardcover – September 2, 2004
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Cooking in the New Year
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Top Customer Reviews
I have a good collection of Chinese cookbooks, including volumes by Barbara Tropp, Ken Hom, Yan Kit, and my own family (I come from a family of restauranteurs and chefs), and over the years gleaned pearls of wisdom from each, but like I said, if I had to choose only one, "Breath" might just be it. But please, don't ask me to actually do it...
What I found captivating was the history and exploration she takes us through of actual construction of woks, the hammering and shaping blacksmith approach and different ways of seasoning.
There is some chapters which are so unique, e.g. The Master Lesson in smoking from an experienced wok expert with then three recipes. This is delightful approach which continues with other experts offering techniques and recipes, e.g. Susanna Foo's Mango Chicken, a succulent dish with marinated vodkaed chicken and richen broth with asparagus, mango and candied walnuts. Yum!
The steamed portion really interests me, especially prep of dumplings, such as "Shrimp Dumplings Spring Moon".
The book is delightfully completed with an "Essentials" section replete with menus, glossary (usually with photos) metric equivalencies, sources.
One will want to spend much time savoring in all the wonders and info in this jam-packed inspiration about wok cooking and history. It will aid all who have or desire to enter this rich historical cuisine. The color photography and writing are superb and add to its richness and captivating presentation. A masterpiece!
As did the author of "American Pie" (who travelled extensively in a search for sublime pizza), the authoress of this book traveled to culinary destinations in San Francisco, New York, Hong Kong, and Mainland China, in search of Wok stores, wok makers, and elite Chinese chefs - in search of wok lore, and recipes.
The authoress then provides the reader with a helpful overview of the 3 basic types of wok (twin loop-handle Cantonese, northern-style with one handle, and the ubiquitous western-style flat-bottom wok), the best materials to buy them in (cast iron, or hand-hammered high-carbon steel), the various ways they're commonly seasoned, and how to maintain and care for them. Then she moves on to her recipe section.
Strengths ? In no particular order:
a) FRONT: The first 56 pages of this book, covering wok manufacture, selection, seasoning, and care, are very helpful and interesting. That was the material I actually purchased the book for.
b) RECIPES: Some of the recipes included appear well crafted and very tasty - I'm actually looking forward to trying several.
c) HEADNOTES: To me, a recipe is a participatory story, followed by a meal ... it's an act of communion with both the author, the more distant sources of the recipe, and with life itself. Depending on your introspectiveness and philosophical outlook, cooking can be a very deep experience. Accordingly, I'm always grateful when authors go to the trouble to include head notes for their recipes.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Beautiful book, inside and out. Very well written and clear to understand. I love the history and chronology of the author's travels while in search of authentic woks in China. Read morePublished 5 days ago by RJ
Grace has great recipes, you need to get this book if you've a wok.Published 4 months ago by Rosa Tenberge
I bought this cookbook for my mom for her birthday. My brother was getting her a wok, so I figured she would need a good cookbook to go with it. She loves it! Read morePublished 5 months ago by jessica hurley
Not as good as I hoped it would be, but a few nice recipes, so not a total loss. Still looking for the definitive wok cookbook.Published 5 months ago by Bododio