Thursday, January 23, 2014

Book Review #20

Chinese Cooking
Rose Cheng and Michelle Morris

I like this book because the book opens up with a short cultural lesson of Chinese cooking that is frequently missing in other cookbooks, and yet short enough as to concentrate on cooking, without being wordy or irrelevant. A philosophical overview maybe irrelevant to some, but I find that as I experiment with the recipe, these provide the guidance I need.

The tool section is short and to the point. Normally, a cook book would specify so many pots and pans, and so many utensil. This one specifies a few multi-purpose tools. I really appreciate that.

The problem comes when it comes to ingredients. Chinese ingredients are unique to chinese culture, and that's kind of hard to get in rural America. There's a big picture that helpfully shows the different kind of ingredients desired, but unless there's a good Asian store in your neighborhood, there's no getting them. I'd appreciate if the writer would write equivalent substitute to the ingredients. Alas, that information will not be found here.

The dishes are varied and good. My complain about them is the same complain about other recipes: They are all hard to make, requiring many different ingredients and spices, and frankly, a bother to do. I have no doubt that they are great tasting food. I find that I'm skimping all the different exotic ingredient, and substitute what is available locally. There's nothing to it. I appreciate the pictures of the food, and although mine is nowhere close to looking the same, it's good enough for me.

If you want a good survey of chinese food, and don't mind either going to Asian store and do a lot of work, or maybe converting it to using readily available local ingredient, then this is a good cook book to have.

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