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Land of Fish and Rice: Recipes from the Culinary Heart of China Hardcover – October 18, 2016
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“In Land of Fish and Rice, Fuchsia distills her characteristic in-depth studies (she's a cook who learns by doing) into easy-going and understated prose and inspiringly simple recipes that really work.”
- J. Kenji López-Alt, New York Times-bestselling author of The Food Lab
“In Land of Fish and Rice Fuchsia Dunlop introduces us to the little-known region south of the Yangtze River, its long and deep influence on Chinese gastronomy, and its surprisingly subtle, refreshing flavors. Land of Fish and Rice is authoritative and absorbing, full of insight, enticing recipes, and infectious delight in the pleasures of the table.”
- Harold McGee, James Beard Award-Winning author of On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen
“Through gifted storytelling and stunning photographs, Fuchsia Dunlop highlights a rich tradition of seasonality and sustainability. Her simple and delicious flavors from the southern Yangtze inspire me and surely will inspire a new generation of cooks.”
- Alice Waters, Owner, Chez Panisse Restaurant and author of The Art of Simple Food
“Fuchsia Dunlop’s homage to Jiangnan cooking is destined to be a classic. She takes us on a rare insider’s culinary odyssey through the Lower Yangtze region sharing its rich culinary traditions. Unusual specialties like chrysanthemum leaves with pine nuts, Buddhist vegetarian tofu rolls, and fresh clam custard are gathered from years of travel and research. This is a major contribution to our understanding of Chinese cuisine. The exquisite photography is an added bonus.”
- Grace Young, author of Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge and Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen
“This is an enthralling book. Fuchsia Dunlop has fallen in love with Jiangnan, and her book makes us fall in love too.”
- Claudia Roden, author of The New Book of Middle Eastern Food
“This beautiful book spoke to me personally. My parents were from “South of the Yangtze” and just reading the recipes evoked long lost smell and taste memories that brought tears to my eyes. Fuchsia has eloquently but simply captured the rich cuisine of a region unfamiliar to most Westerners.”
- Cecilia Chiang, Author, Chef, and Founder of The Mandarin Restaurant in San Francisco
“Cookbooks turn up every few years with the promise of an everyday mastery of Chinese cuisine. Their mark is fleeting, and cooks happily return to their manila envelopes of takeout menus. This year may be different. . . . For her latest, Ms. Dunlop, a British cook and food writer who has been studying Chinese cooking since the mid-1990s, dives deep into the balanced flavors of Jiangnan. These are recipes to bring out the optimal flavors of the ingredients, and Ms. Dunlop’s approachable instructions bring readers closer to success.”
- New York Times--Best Cookbooks of Fall 2016
“Land of Fish and Rice by the revered British pro Fuchsia Dunlop is a focused exploration of the food of Jiangnan, an area famous among Chinese for its subtle cuisine ― and now revealed to us. ”
- Wall Street Journal--Featured in 2016 Holiday Gift Guide
“An exquisite and marvelously detailed work. With many of these dishes, their brilliance lies in their minimalism. So far, every recipe I’ve tried consists of relatively few ingredients, which, when combined, sparkle with flavour. ”
- Samuel Fromartz, The Washington Post
“Another masterpiece from one of my favorite authors. Dunlop is a gifted writer with intriguing recipes that work. I have every one of her titles and if the woman wrote a book about how to stir a pot of water, I would buy it. Gorgeous photographs, haunting narrative, and recipes you will not find anywhere else. . . this author is a treasure. ”
- Eat Your Books
About the Author
Fuchsia Dunlop has appeared on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” “Science Friday,” and “America’s Test Kitchen Radio,” and is a regular contributor to publications including the Financial Times, Saveur, the Wall Street Journal, Lucky Peach, and The New Yorker. She trained as a chef in China and has won four James Beard Awards for her writing about Chinese food. She lives in London.
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Firstly, the good: the food photography, as well as the general design of the book, is stunning. This would make a lovely gift for a Chinese food lover, even if one never cooks any of the recipes. As Fuchsia Dunlop has become more famous, the budget (and resulting visual quality) of her cookbooks has increased dramatically. This one's definitely a visual stunner, her best yet. The writing is classic Dunlop, as well--a mix of chatty anecdotes from her travels, well-placed historical tidbits, and practical tips on additions and substitutions. Most recipes I've tried are clear, though of course it helps if one is at least generally familiar with the tastes of authentic Jiangnan cuisine (the area around the lower Yangtze, including Shanghai, Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces). Orange mandarin chicken stir-fry, this is not.
Which leads me to the main drawback of the book: taste-wise and recipe-wise, this is probably one of her less accessible books for Western readers. When done well, Jiangnan cuisine is light but flavorful, often seafood-focused--a midpoint between the bold and hearty tastes of Northern Chinese cuisine, and the ultra-light and delicate tastes of Southern Chinese food. However, when done badly, it can be bland, oily, sugary and strange to the Western palate. Dunlop chooses her recipes carefully, providing both choices that are easily palatable to Westerners as well as more challenging classics within the Jiangnan culinary canon. That being said, there were just fewer recipes that I can add to my everyday repertoire from this book, versus her other books. Many include Chinese pickles, preserved meats, freshwater fishes, and less-common ingredients such as goose, snow vegetable, and chayote.
It's a solid choice for hardcore China foodies who want to expand their culinary repertoire; however, most of us will not be using this as a day-to-day cookbook. If you're looking for workhorse everyday Chinese favorites, choose Dunlop's Every Grain of Rice instead. If you want to stretch your Chinese tastebuds in a way that will probably offer more recipes to the average Westerner's liking, try her Hunanese book The Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook. Favorite recipes from this book included: green bok choy with dried shrimp, West Lake fish in vinegar sauce, oil-exploded shrimp, and Hangzhou sweet-and-sour pork.
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