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The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking: Techniques and Recipes Paperback – April 15, 1982
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There are many fine books on Chinese cooking. Among them, Barbara Tropp's the Modern Art of Chinese Cooking stands out for its grounding in the underlying philosophy of this sophisticated cuisine. Tropp explores the yin and yang, the harmony of opposites underlying all aspects of Chinese life. Relating them particularly to cooking, she illustrates how seasoning with both chiles and sugar gives a dish fullness of flavor that is more than just hot and sweet. The author gives much attention to equipment and techniques--this is an in-depth manual as well a recipe book. Ever practical, she is not too shy to advise readers about using a Western-style skillet for stir frying, along with advice on using woks, cleavers, and steamers.
The recipe section opens with assorted nibbles. Dishes range from spicy Szechuan Ma-La Cold Chicken to Rice-Coated Pork Pearl Balls, ideal for serving at parties. There are red-cooked stewed meats and juicy Pot Sticker Dumplings. Recipes are as simple as Spinach Stir-Fried with Garlic and Salt, and as complex as Pressed Birthday Duck, which takes up to four days to make and involves three cooking techniques. The dishes come from various regions of China, with an emphasis on those with bold flavors. Tropp adds technique notes to her already detailed instructions, and even recommends what serving dishes to use, whether to heat them, and the best wines to accompany dishes.
Ultimately, the wealth of information, Tropp's charming voice, and the creative touches she adds in crunchy Cinnamon Bark Chicken, Ginger-Infused Crème Caramel and other recipes make Barbara Tropp's The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking a necessary book for anyone serious about Chinese food. --Dana Jacobi --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Hailed as a culinary classic when it first appeared years ago in hardcover, it's a pleasure to see the paperback version, which will reach new audiences with its hundreds of recipes and insights on Chinese cooking techniques. Many menu suggestions and notes on techniques are included in this comprehensive guide. -- Midwest Book Review
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To fully appreciate the meals of this books, reading the first few chapters on equipment are invaluable! Her cleaver section is dynamite! I left the purchasing of a variety of cleavers to her, and just bought the one general cleaver she recommended! What a change it has made in my kitchen! Following her techniques and recommended equipment has made my Chinese cooking from an all day affair to a short, well orchestrated event.
5-stars because of the personal insight for each section and each recipe; excellent writing and editing; superb recipes (oh, the pork hunan dumplings are divine-especially when made into pot-stickers); easy to follow illustrations that are not complex or childish; and most of all-PRICE! Excellent value for the money!
Second, the way the book is laid out is a bit difficult to get used to. The way the recipes appear on the page, and finding where one ends and the next starts, aren't as clearly delineated as you find in many modern cookbooks.
Still, the book deserves high praise. It doesn't just present recipes, it discusses techniques, and what's more, it discusses the philosophy behind Chinese cooking, which is necessary to truly understand how to cook in another culture.
A great book, and an essential part of a complete Chinese cookbook collection. Just don't expect it to be a bunch of recipes from P.F. Changs or something.