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The Chinese Kitchen: Recipes, Techniques, Ingredients, History, And Memories From America's Leading Authority On Chinese Cooking Hardcover – November 17, 1999

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: MorrowCB (November 17, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688158269
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688158262
  • Product Dimensions: 10.3 x 8.3 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #94,701 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In this unique book, Eileen Yin-Fei Lo delves richly into Chinese cuisine, reflecting in its complexity the nation's culture, history, geographic diversity, and philosophies of health and living. Regardless of how many Chinese cookbooks you already own, The Chinese Kitchen is sure to bring you new information and recipes. And no one else can offer the intriguing family recipes she includes, such as her mother's lean, steamed loin of pork marinated in ginger juice and oyster sauce.

Lo grew up in Canton (now Guangzhou). Her stories about her visits with Ah Paw, her maternal grandmother, become lessons she shares with us. Lo learned about cooking and received much wisdom from this sparrow of a woman, whose feet were bound, in the old way, when she was a child, to keep them four inches long, but who fiercely brought her daughter and granddaughter into modern times. She also taught Lo about Confucius and the ancient traditions such as the Seven Necessities of rice, tea, oil, salt, soy sauce, vinegar, and firewood.

When Lo talks about ingredients in the "Chinese Larder" chapter, she provides Chinese characters in the margin that can be photocopied so you can show them at stores to be sure you get the right ingredients. Familiar recipes in The Chinese Kitchen, from Orange Beef to Moo Shu Pork, are followed by more exotic choices such as Shrimp Stir-Fried with Garlic Cloves and Hakka Bean Curd, stuffed with dried shrimp and lightly fried. An entire chapter is devoted to Buddha Jump over the Wall, a kind of a Chinese Babette's Feast. This special recipe from the Fuzhou region requires two days to make and calls for 28 ingredients, mercifully not including the fish lips, duck gizzards and other items used in the true Fuzhou version but which Westerners generally shun. This robust, country dish, combining chicken, duck, ham, and lamb in a kind of pot-au-feu, is so alluring that supposedly the Buddha himself, a vegetarian, could not resist it. It provides insight into Chinese cooking at its most complex.

Fans of Chinese tea will delight in the chapter devoted to this revered beverage. For everyone, simply reading The Chinese Kitchen will enhance enormously the pleasure of dining out in Chinese restaurants. --Dana Jacobi

From Publishers Weekly

In her newest Chinese cookbook, Canton native Yin-Fei Lo (The Chinese Banquet Cookbook) meticulously explains the history of the Chinese table from 5000 B.C. to the 20th century, documenting the influence of various imperial dynasties on China's cuisine. Seventeen chapters explore the Chinese larder, teas, wines, cooking equipment and techniques, classic Chinese dishes, rice and noodles, food-as-medicine, meats and vegetables, dim sum and the evolution of Chinese-American restaurant dishes. Yin-Fei Lo emphasizes the principles of the Chinese kitchen: selecting the freshest ingredients, eating foods in season and eating foods in harmony with their yin (cooling) versus yang (warming) properties. Anecdotes and recipe prefaces detail regional and dynastic origins of dishes, including relevant folklore, superstition and symbolism associated with them. An accessible repertoire of recipes ranges from popular regional classics, like Peking Duck and spicy Sichuan Mah Paw Dau Fu to "Western Chinese restaurant clich?s" like Egg Drop Soup and Chow Mein. Integrating her own food memories growing up in Sun Tak, China, Yin-Fei Lo conveys her culinary heritage with precision and passion, delivering a richly layered resource on Chinese cookery. (Dec.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Delicious recipes well presented.
I have not been able to get more authentic chinese home cooking than from out of my own kitchen with this book.
Amazon Customer
And I found the ingredients in my local Asian market thanks to Eileen's "Chinese Larder" section.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

85 of 88 people found the following review helpful By Christina C. Shankar on October 4, 2000
Format: Hardcover
When you make these wonderful dishes, you will know what Chinese food really tastes like, not the brown garlic-ginger tasting stuff you get at a take-out place around the corner. This cuisine has everything going for it - a heavy reliance on vegetables, using meat in a supporting role, and healthful cooking techniques like stir frying and steaming.
The author has very thoughtfully created a glossary with the names of culinary exotica in both English and Chinese characters, so that I can make a copy of the page, point like an idiot at the words for my friends at the Asian market and they will show it to me.
The recipes ALL WORK. I cannot tell you how satisfying it is to pick up a cookbook, place my time and ingredients and trust in the author's hands and have a wonderful meal to show for it. Trust this author. She will teach you, entertain you, and you will know how marvelous real Chinese food is. It would take an active campaign of sabotage to ruin one of her recipes, they are so easy to follow. (but then again, I really like cooking.) This is a cookbook that I will simply never part with, and I will use until its pages are stained with soy sauce and fall out. The recipe alone for Mah Gu Gai Pin is worth the price of the book.
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43 of 43 people found the following review helpful By J. Lee on April 21, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book has authentic recipes. But they may be 'authentic' in a way that I suspect most normal Americans (and many Chinese in China to some extent) will be unable to really embrace. What I mean by this is that these are authentic Cantonese aristocratic recipes; i.e. food for the kind of people that can afford servants, or at least have a stay at home mother or father who has enough time to devote multiple hours to cooking dinner each day. Even when the recipes venture into other areas of Chinese cuisine, it holds that same kind overly epicurean complexity.

I grew up with my grandparents cooking Cantonese food for me, and though preparations can get quite complex in the Chinese kitchen, dinner rarely feels like a burden. This book simply calls for too many ingredients, oftentimes obscure ones, oftentimes in trifling amounts. Currently I live in Beijing and the agricultural market is right down the street, but generally speaking I can hardly motivate myself to go gather all the many ingredients in these epic recipes. I feel in many ways that Ms. Lo neglects an important, but certainly not all encompassing, concept in Chinese cooking, which is straightforwardness and letting good ingredients speak for themselves.

To compare, Ms. Lo's recipe for Mah Paw Daufu (not a Cantonese dish) has 22 ingredients listed. Whereas in the "Land of Plenty" cookbook the Ma Po Doufu calls for 12 ingredients. Both recipes create a wonderful dish, but as the recipe in "Land of Plenty" is much less complex I use it 95% of the time. Having grown up with Chinese food and having lived in China for 3 years I would say that "Land of Plenty" is more 'authentic' in that its the home style cooking that most Chinese people do.
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49 of 50 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 6, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book for my husband for Christmas and we can't stop cooking from it! Every recipe we've tried has been delicious and authentic. While we are not novice cooks, we knew little about Chinese ingredients and next to nothing about Chinese cooking techniques. But the recipes are so clear and easy to follow, that once we stocked our pantry, we were producing wonderful tasting and visually pleasing dishes that put our neighborhood Chinese restaurants to shame.
Although the recipes generally require a fairly long list of ingredients (it is not unusual to need a few different types of soy sauce and vinegar), and you will need access to a good Asian market, you will be able to use the ingredients you buy in many different dishes. The book opens up a new world of flavors and textures, and the author manages to inform and entertain with information on Chinese history and culture along the way.
This is one of the best cookbooks I've purchased, and I buy a lot of cookbooks. Highly recommended.
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58 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Jane Avriette on July 13, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My chinese girlfriend (I'm just a "white guy") and I have decided to start cooking chinese. She has experience with some of the dishes and techniques, my experience is is limited to knowing how to make stir-fry in a wok.
This book offers no-nonsense approaches to traditional chinese dishes. No corners are cut, everything is the way the author thinks it should be (and who am I to argue?).
Novice cooks beware: this book is not for you!
It is a beautiful book. The art with which it was put together is stunning.
Technically, it is outstanding. With illustrations and pictures of the techniques, commentary on proper techniques and cultural commentary.
We are having great fun with it already.
If you know how to cook, and can build up enough courage to go and make Peking Duck, this book is definitely for you.
Chinese cooking is fantastic. This book makes a worthy addition to any intermediate - advanced kitchen.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By siehomme on August 3, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book because I was tired of the simplified, Americanized recipes of many Chinese cook books and because I wanted a little history with my recipes. I was not disappointed on both counts. Ms. Lo speaks with authority and warmth in these pages, and, being a purist when it comes to Chinese cookery, gives you the real deal when it comes to the cuisine of China. Here you'll find not only Cantonese dishes but those from Shanghai, Szechuan, and other regions. The instructions are clear (if sometimes daunting) and there are many beautiful photographs accompanying them. I've made several recipes and have been very happy with the results, and I plan on making many more. Many of these recipes are not of the quick-n-easy variety, but the extra time and effort are worth it.
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