- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Lantern; 1 edition (6 March 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1920989331
- ISBN-13: 978-1920989330
- Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 2.5 x 23.5 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 1.9 Kg
- Customer Reviews: 48 customer ratings
Simple Chinese Cooking Hardcover – 6 March 2006
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About the Author
A long-time supporter of the Slow Food movement and its aims, Kylie runs a stall at Eveleigh Farmers' Market in Sydney and helps to nurture the next generation of cooks through the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation. She has also developed a range of fair trade tableware in conjunction with Oxfam.
Kylie is the author of six books - Kylie Kwong's Simple Chinese Cooking Class, It Tastes Better, My China, Simple Chinese Cooking, Heart and Soul and Recipes and Stories - and presenter of three television series that have aired internationally.
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Top international reviews
While the recipes were relatively simple and the book lived up to it's title, more authentic publications are available from Fuchsia Dunlop ("Land of Plenty", "Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook") and Grace Young ("The Breath of the Wok", "The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen") which I would recommend over this title.
Jan 16 2009 Update: Still using it and loving it! We've tried many recipes and have our favorites.
With that, to me this is truly a book full of simple Chinese dishes with adaption to Western taste and ingredients. Having said that, that doesn't mean all dishes are adapted nor all ingredients can be found in your normal, everyday grocery stores. It helps if you live near an Asian market or oriental stores. But Kylie has made it easier by listing all the "special" ingredients right in the beginning of the book. You will need just one trip to the store to get all those authentic ingredients you need (other "normal" ingredients you can get at your grocery store).
The layout of the book is also very helpful. The book is divided into Soups, Chicken, Duck, Beef, Tofu, etc., which is very helpful if you have something in your refrigerator and want to make something with it. This is easier for me than listing the name of the dishes or categorize the dishes by appetizers, main dishes, etc. because, let's be honest, simple cooking doesn't exactly say "appetizer-main-dessert meals," and who can remember those 1000x names.
Kylie has done a great job including and adapting these Chinese dishes to be simple enough for tonight's dinner. The book is clear in explanation, easy to read, straight to the point. I have made many dishes from this book and am quite pleased. My boyfriend, who has a picky tooth, has actually requested many of the dishes I have made.
I also have The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook: 101 Asian Recipes Simple Enough for Tonight's Dinner by Jaden, and I like Kylie's Simple Chinese Cooking more because it's more authentic, covers greater amount of areas on Chinese cooking, and the dishes taste better. For the reviewer who says the recipes in this book are bland, mentioning the tofu recipe, I just want to let you know that tofu is actually kinda bland in nature. That dish's essences are in its simplicity and purity. It's a wonderful starter, kind of a comfort food for many Chinese. When you are full of those high-protein dishes, it's a bliss just to think of such pure and simple dish like this.
That being said, this book is not without fault. The degree of authenticity of the dishes in this book may disappoint readers who are looking to make truly authentic dishes (for this, I recommend Henry Chung's Hunan Style Chinese Cooking (Henry Chung's Hunan Style Chinese Cookbook) if you want authentic Chinese food. But to be fair, the purpose of this book, as stated on the title, is to create simple Chinese dishes, written to include also Western readers who do not live in Asian countries and therefore, lack the access to many ingredients. With this in mind, I cannot criticize, instead, I want to applaud Kylie for successfully encouraging many new readers to Chinese cooking, an art that requires practices, time, and experiences to acquire mastery.
The book itself is beautiful in presentation. Every dish has picture, some even have pictures to show you the skill and steps that may otherwise confuse you.
Another potential weakness of this book is, as other reviews may have pointed out, is that it's big. While that doesn't matter to me because I like to read the recipe first to capture and visualize steps that will take place, then write down the recipe on the notecard to take it with me into the kitchen, I understand it may be a minus point to other readers. But if you want a book that has pictures of the final products, actually shows you steps of how to execute those seemingly difficult skills you see at the restaurants, and won't fall apart within a few years being handled in the kitchen, this is a compromise you will have to make.
One personal disappointment though, is that the Mapo Tofu recipe in this book is not authentic :(. Kylie uses tomatoes on the dish, which I have never seen before.
All these flaws of this book can be understood, so between 3 and 4 stars, I chose to give this book 4 stars. This is not a perfect Chinese cookbook, but maybe the best out there for good and simple Chinese food. The star off is because of the degree of authenticity of the dishes in this book.
With a few potential negative points of the book, this is still a book NOT to be passed by. You have come to find this book, that means you are interested in Chinese cooking. While this book may not make you the best cook on Chinese food or the master of Chinese cooking, it's a wonderful introduction to beginners, nice addition to more experienced cooks, and helpful for experienced cooks who want to adapt Chinese cooking to everyday meals.
1) Kylie suggests specific brands when it comes to each sauce in the glossary (oyster, hoisin, etc.) These sauces are essential to the recipes, and it's so great having someone to navigate the aisles of the Chinese market with.
2) If you follow the recipes to the word, you will create a wonderful dish. Meaning, her recipes work. They are tried and true!
3) Consistency. This book uses several of the same ingredients with slight variations. You will feel like you're creating something totally different every time, but in the process you'll see how the flavors work together and get an understanding of the chemistry of flavors behind Chinese cooking. That's why this book was great for a beginner like me.
My favorites include the steamed fish with Szechuan peppercorn and sesame oil, the fish poached in soy broth, the Szechuan chicken salad, the prawn wontons in soup, stir-fried omelette with ginger and scallions, and the Mongolian beef. I can't tell you how satisfying it was to create incredibly satisfying Chinese food at home with grass fed beef and free range chicken.
I have an extensive collection of Chinese cookbooks and this one looks as if it will become a favorite...easy to follow recipes and easy to find ingredients.