How’s this for a fabulous first line? “The Chinese know, perhaps better than anyone else, how to eat.” Think about any little small town in the U.S. alone … no matter where you are, the one type of food you can be guaranteed to find sooner than later, is … Chinese. Really. On these here home shores (and everywhere in between), you’ll find more Chinese restaurants than McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Pizza Hut, and Domino’s combined [check out this quick Yahoo! video on the all-American history of Chinese food]. That said, American Chinese food is not exactly authentic … so if you’re looking for some real cuisine, this gorgeous cookbook promises basic, fresh, healthy, delicious, and best of all … simple.
Meet Fuchsia Dunlop, who holds the distinction of being “the first Westerner to train as a chef at the Sichuan Institute of Higher Cuisine in central China.” She speaks fluent Mandarin (which always elevates any outsider’s status), and has spent two decades researching, crafting, creating Chinese culinary delights – she’s got two award-winning cookbooks and a memoir as proof.
Her latest is another feast, done simple: “I’m not talking here about [Chinese] exquisite haute cuisine, or their ancient tradition of gastronomy. I’m talking about the ability of ordinary Chinese home cooks to transform humble and largely vegetarian ingredients into wonderful delicacies, and to eat in a way that not only delights the senses, but also makes sense in terms of health, economy and the environment.” She reminds us (more than a few times, because we need it, ahem), “With all the fuss over the Mediterranean diet, people in the West tend to forget that the Chinese have a system of eating that is equally healthy, balanced, sustainable and pleasing. Perhaps it’s the dominance of Chinese restaurant food – with its emphasis on meat, seafood and deep-frying as a cooking method – that has made us overlook the fact that typical Chinese home cooking is centered on grains and vegetables.”
Instead of picking up the phone for that next delivery or take-out, Dunlop gives you the better, healthier, tastier option of staying in. She shows you how to stock your kitchen with easy essentials (including “magic ingredients”!) – sauces, spices, and equipment. She offers a basic primer on cutting (“the first basic skill of the Chinese kitchen”) and other how-to techniques. She helps you plan your table, from beginning to (healthy) dessert, even providing sample menus for two, four, and six. Then there are the recipes … with truly picture-perfect photography for almost every dish. Just leafing through a few pages will get you salivating. Please, do pass the bib!
Published: 2013 (United States)