Now you're cooking!
Cooking resources at your library, kitchen suggestions and tips, and more.
CHINESE, PART 1
A common complaint heard in southern Oregon is “It’s so hard to find good Chinese food around here”. Use the books listed here for starters and some of the best Chinese food you’ll ever have will come from your kitchen. Using some of the recipes in these books has allowed me to produce dishes that are as good as anything I’ve had in good Chinese restaurants in the Bay Area, where I lived for many years. This segment is part 1 focusing on Chinese, following parts will come in the near future.
Chinese cookbooks range from easy preparation to more difficult. This part will be about some that are very user friendly for cooks of all ability levels. All the books listed in this segment use ingredients that are easily obtainable, which is extremely important in areas that don’t have large Asian grocery stores. One point I can’t stress enough, don’t make substitutions unless you can’t find an ingredient. Rice vinegar, oyster sauce, rice wine, and sesame oil are examples of basic ingredients that should not be substituted for. Once you get started cooking Chinese, you’ll find yourself using these and other basic ingredients frequently.
A very good starting point is China Express by Nina Simonds. She has written several excellent cookbooks, primarily about Chinese cuisine. As is the case with many ethnic cuisine books, she begins with chapters on ingredients, equipment, and techniques. I like China Express so much that I bought a copy. One of my favorites from this book is Spicy Tangerine Pork.
Everyday Chinese Cooking is by Leeann and Katie Chin. Leeann is a chef and restaurateur whose restaurants are very successful and winners of numerous awards. This book is great for those who want to make good Chinese food with ingredients available in most large supermarkets. You’ll find recipes for familiar dishes along with dishes you may not be aware of.
Ken Hom is a Chinese-American (grew up in Chicago) who has written numerous cookbooks and produced TV series on PBS and BBC. His Easy family recipes from a Chinese-American childhood is another good choice for Americans who are not familiar with Chinese cooking. Two others of his that fit this category are Ken Hom’s quick wok and Ken Hom’s Top 100 stir-fry recipes
Kylie Kwong is a chef and restaurateur in Australia. Her Simple Chinese Cooking lives up to its title. One difference in this book is that some recipes include photos of the various steps. She uses some terms that are not common in the U.S. One example is pork fillet, which is sold in the U.S. as pork tenderloin.
Another book that is appropriately titled is Helene Siegel’s Chinese cooking for beginners. The recipes are very easy to follow and, as with the others on this list, the ingredients are easily obtainable. One thing you’ll notice about Chinese cooking is that, similar to other Asian cuisines, there are core ingredients that show up in many recipes. As mentioned earlier, don’t substitute for them. Once you get going with Chinese cooking, you’ll use them frequently.
KITCHEN TIP: Peeling ginger with a knife is inefficient. Before you go out and buy a ginger peeler, remember that you probably have several in your utensil drawer. The best way to peel ginger is using a teaspoon.