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The Breath of a Wok Hardcover – September 2, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
Among Chinese cookbooks, this one is unusual. It doesn't strive for comprehensiveness or focus on a regional cuisine. Instead, it analyzes that sacred object of the Chinese kitchen: the wok. The wok's "breath" is the heat rising from the sizzling instrument as a dish is finished, but also much more, according to Young (The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen). She offers a profound meditation on the wok's spiritual place, as well as its history and uses. As such, the book may be appreciated as a work of food scholarship as well as a cookbook. Nearly half of it concerns wok arcana, from an assessment of the best wok for a home kitchen to half a dozen "recipes" for seasoning a new wok (like Mr. Wen's Chinese Chive Rub). Naturally, the majority of the recipes are for stir-fries, such as the familiar Kung Pao Chicken. Usually, Young takes great care to attribute her recipes to her sources (e.g., Mary Chau's Shanghai-Style Snow Cabbage and Edamame). Those sources are refreshingly varied, including home cooks, like the author's many female relations, and well-known names like Martin Yan and writer Amy Tan. Although this is by no means a definitive Chinese cookbook, its elegance and meditative outlook make it a welcome gift. Photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
In the 1970s the wok burst into the American consciousness, along with the flurry of interest in all things Chinese inaugurated by Nixon's memorable trip to Beijing. Today, plenty of American kitchens have a wok of some sort, but cooks may not know how to use the implement properly. Young and Richardson set out to remedy that with this comprehensive treatise on wok cookery. More than 50 pages of text cover the manufacture, selection, and the seasoning of a new wok, a process for which Chinese chives turn out to be indispensable. Once technical concerns are overcome, the wok can finally be put to use to create "wok hay," the special, unique flavor achieved by the truly practiced cook. Young's recipes reflect a very personal repertoire that originates from dishes cooked within her extended family. Recipes, sorted into groups by cooking style, use generally available staple Chinese ingredients and a wide spectrum of fresh meats and vegetables. This practical, smart, and savory collection of lore and recipes promises to set off a rebirth of Chinese cooking in American kitchens. Mark Knoblauch
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top customer reviews
If you are going to get a single book for your wok, this should be it.
The Breathe of the Wok by Grace Young and Alan Richardson- Published 2004
I came across this book at the library one day while researching Asian history and exploring for unique and breath-taking recipes. Most of the time I`m submerged for hours before I find the hidden pearls I'm looking for. Every now and then however, it does happen by chance that I'm immediately drawn to an excellent publication; such is what occurred with the breath of the wok
A Breakdown of the Breath of the Wok
This written work by Grace Young is instructional and spoken in a language that even the amateur cook will appreciate. It promotes 125 well crafted recipes with arousing stories that teach the history of Chinese wok cooking. Some traditions in the book date back 2000 years to the original Cantonese and are still relevant today! The photography is illustrative; we are put right in the middle of the action as masters of the WOK entertain with adroitness. You most certainly will praise the ability of experienced and seasoned veteran Alan Richardson for capturing the details and keeping us entangled in the moments!
What You Will Learn when you Read the Breath...
There are some obvious facts about the Chinese. They are held together by social and cultural ties; Chinese are festive! They are considered to be in accord with reality and Spirituality. They have superb cooking skills! We know that wok cooking is widely appreciated in the world and held in high esteem because it is healthy and nutritious? Whatever we haven't learned about their impressive form of artistic cooking can be gleaned by reading The Breath of the wok.
Wok Techniques used in the book
Grace Young shows intelligently how just about every cooking method can be performed with the wok. Study her book to become accustomed to wok methodology. We need to have discipline when using the wok; Grace teaches us how to become disciplined. She shows us the orderly logical arraignments that must take place to help us become proficient in these areas:
Question that will be answered when you read the Breath of the Wok:
How does one get started with wok cooking? How do I select the right equipment to use and is caring for it difficult? Which spices should I use and where can they be purchased? Are cooking methods comparable to what I'm accustomed to or should I expect to purchase all new equipment and pantry items? Is wok cooking vegan, vegetarian and gluten friendly? All of these questions and more are answered with delicacy to assure that readers understand the basics and intricacies of Chinese wok cooking.
Recipes, Recipes, and more recipes:
Careful details are poured into each recipe. A few of my favorites are, Kung Pao Chicken, Lee Wan Ching's sizzling pepper and salt shrimp, Bernadette Chan's Stir-fried Beef, Danny Chan's crab with black bean sauce, Ming Tsai's mandarin fried rice; spicy garlic eggplant. Trust me, there are many more that can be mentioned, but I'm sure you'll get the point once you purchase the book.