Explore Chinese cuisine with excellent teaching cookbooks

Chinese cookbooks 

Browsing the EYB Library, it is easy to become overwhelmed. If you are looking for a cookbook to use as a springboard for learning a particular cuisine, you probably have hundreds from which to choose. Finding one that strikes the correct balance between history, instruction, and authenticity can be a challenge. For someone learning Chinese cuisines, a recent article cuts through the confusion and provides details on seven books perfectly suited for learning Chinese cooking

The tomes are from trusted names like Carolyn Phillips, whose All Under Heaven is touted as "an excellent roadmap to the cooking of each of China's regions." Fuchsia Dunlop likewise gets a shoutout for her recent release, Land of Fish and Rice.  This book isn't as comprehensive as Phillips' work, but it dives deep into the cuisine of one area, China's southern Jiangnan region, which includes Shanghai.

Not all of the recommended books are recent publications. The Breath of a Wok from Grace Young and Alan Richardson, published over a decade ago, also receives accolades. It is "the place to start if you like to approach cooking as a poet might, understanding the soul of a cuisine, or if you really want to geek out." Eileen Yin-Fei Lo's 2006 work, My Grandmother's Chinese Kitchen, is described as being a good choice for someone who is a 'nervous beginner', because it is a sweet and personal book and not at all intimidating. The article recommends three additional books as good instruction manuals for learning about Chinese cuisine. 

4 Comments

  • obbigttam  on  4/21/2017 at 9:39 PM

    Whilst there are some great books recommended in that article, I'd add Charmaine Solomon & Ken Hom to that list. The Complete Asian Cookbook is the first book I learned to cook from, and whilst not focused solely on Chinese cuisine it does take a rather large section of the book. Ken Hom's Chinese Cookery from 1984 was a great teaching cookbook, as is his more recent effort (2011) Complete Chinese Cookbook.

  • ellabee  on  4/21/2017 at 10:21 PM

    If I were starting into Chinese cooking today, I'd probably start with Every Grain of Rice. But an equally good introduction would be The Key to Chinese Cooking by Irene Kuo. Despite its age (published in 1977 and never revised), it remains a model of clarity and well-presented instruction. Because it was *the* Chinese cookbook for many years, there are still many out there in the used market and in libraries. This article is an over-written but worthwhile appreciation: https://food52.com/blog/19289-how-america-lost-the-key-to-chinese-cooking.

  • ellabee  on  4/21/2017 at 11:08 PM

    Regrettably, the Food52 article has pushed the price of The Key to Chinese Cooking to ludicrous levels. I got a perfectly good used one for $15. within the last two years; in time, the price should return to earth. Meanwhile, look in libraries.

  • sir_ken_g  on  4/22/2017 at 8:48 AM

    The Joyce Chen Cook book is good. I wooed by Chinesisch wife with that book, and gave a copy to our kid when they opened their first apartment.

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