Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Authentic Chinese Cookbook Recommendations


Recommended Posts

I have many hundreds of Chinese cookbooks. The best and most useful is Pei Mei's chinese cookbook vol. 1, and the standard of books published bilingually in HK and Taiwan is remarkably high. Nearly all the books published in the west overadapt or over simplify, but there's a lot to recommend in Yan-Kit So's Classic Food of China. I deplore the current gushing tendency of such very ungifted cooks as Kylie Kwong and Grace Young.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Kenneth Lo, expatriate Chinese writer, teacher, and cook, is credited as mentor by prominent US Chinese-émigré chef-authors such as Martin Yan and Lawrence C. C. Chu. He pioneered popular English-language cookbooks about real, contemporary practice in China, including Chinese Regional Cooking (ISBN 0394738705, "used and new from $1.55" at one point on amazon) and Chinese Cooking on Next to Nothing. I posted re the first title to rec.food.cooking in 1988 (some people have copies of the posting but it's not currently in public archives). Lo, writing mostly in England, owned and partly translated an 11-volume national cookbook, one of several such titled Famous Dishes of China (Peking: Ministry of Commerce Foods and Drinks Management Department, 1963). Eloquent evocations of China itself, attention to underlying principles and folk recipes, condemnation of shortcuts like MSG (Lo was hardly the only Chinese chef to disparage MSG). I have various other titles from Lo. (For some reason, some of his later and British books have a different, more hack-work tone, and I spot also a different perception of Lo among some British readers.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Which book has authentic recipes that are also lesser known?

I'm tired of coming across the same recipes over and over again when flipping through countless Chinese cookbooks and I lose the incentive to buy another. So any suggestions for 'unique' Chinese cookbooks would be really wonderful :)

P.S. Hopefully with not too many 'exotic' ingredients that would be difficult to find in the West; Australia in particular.

Musings and Morsels - a film and food blog


Link to comment
Share on other sites


It shows. They don't work.
(I mentioned negative UK comments on Lo, and some of his later books had a different style that might conceivably fit this. Would like to learn more about it some time.)

But muichoi, you may not know it, but the categorical negative comment "They don't work" -- like many sweeping characterizations -- is very demonstrably inaccurate as I'll explain, and further, it's an assertion without data. It implies testing all Lo's books, including the two I named upthread, and The Top One Hundred Chinese Dishes (1992). These three include some of my most-used Chinese recipes (again, Chinese Regional Cooking is translations from a large national cookbook). Of the 20 or 30 recipes I tested in those books, all worked well when I tried them. (Maybe I should ask Martin Yan or Lawrence Chu to comment -- their words would carry more weight.)

Disproof of assertion by multiple counterexamples; quod erat demonstrandum.

For Sichuanese cooking, Fuchsia Dunlop's Land of Plenty (2001, ISBN 0393051773), if you overlook some fussy claims of the authentic or sole genuine way to make a certain dish (like the Guide Culinaire 100 years ago), is recipes studied and tried there, then reproduced successfully in Britain. For perceptive, incisive East-West fusion concepts I find it hard to surpass the 1990s series by husband-wife team Hugh Carpenter and Teri Sandison (Carpenter's a former Chinese-studies scholar turned cookbook author and teacher). Those books are alive with flavor, a gold mine of ideas that deserves more recognition. Amazon.com lists half a dozen of them or so, linked together.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Also BrandonPHX, since you seem to be in the US, this might be useful: a recap of something I posted here and there a few years ago on the subject of that miraculous unique spice, Sichuan "peppercorns" -- more citrus than hot in flavor.


One unusual Chinese cookbook I use has some of the most rewarding spicy stews and similar dishes, some of which (like the simply named "red cooked beef with noodles") exquisitely employ Sichuan peppercorns. (In that case, with lots of of scallions, ginger and whole garlic cloves.) This book has spoken for most of those peppercorns that I used in recent years. The book is unusual in being an oral account from a skilled Chinese cook, transcribed and translated by English speaking writers. It has been a US underground classic for 30 years.

Schrecker and Schrecker, Mrs. Chiang's Szechwan Cookbook, Harper and Row, 1976, reissued 1987. ISBN 006015828X for the reissue. Readily available on the used market and probably some libraries. amazon.com currently lists 44 copies available, starting at $4.07. A good value, in my opinion.

PS: The Chiang book includes a recipe and background info about the famous tofu dish (spelled mapo doufu). Also, comments from Eugene Wu of the Harvard-Yenching Library who claims to've had the dish when he was young, in Chengtu, from the famous pock-marked lady herself, whom the dish is named for. Quoted in support of this review and recommendation:

"You ordered by weight, so many grams of bean curd and so many grams of meat, and your serving would be weighed out and cooked as you watched. It arrived at the table fresh, fragrant, and so spicy hot, or la, that it actually caused sweat to break out. Dr. Wu says that Mrs. Chiang's version of the dish rivals that of the famous old lady. It is just as rich, fragrant, and hot. / If we had to choose the quintessential Szechwanese dish, this spicy preparation of bean curd and chopped meat would probably be it. Its multiplicity of tastes and textures first stuns, then stimulates, the senses. ..." (The writers go on about the relation of the dish to Sichuan cooking traditions.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Max, as someone experienced in chinese cooking of course you can make the Lo recipes work, and he writes interestingly, but if beginners follow the recipes they don't work. His translations have too much adaptation to be useful to the experienced and not enough technique for the beginner. Mrs. Chiang's Szechwan cookbook is excellent, I agree.

FWIW, Martin Yan's recipes don't work either IMHO.

Edited by muichoi (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Max, as someone experienced in chinese cooking of course you can make the Lo recipes work, and he writes interestingly, but if beginners follow the recipes they don't work. ... Martin Yan's recipes don't work either ...

I don't know Yan's recipes -- except a dazzling one I was introduced to by someone else, a sizzling black-bean chicken with shallots and ginger, which worked very well and has become a stand-by for me -- so I can't speak to his books. Rather, he's an example well known in North America of one of the people that have at least privately credited Lo for breaking ground in popularizing Chinese cooking methods overseas.

Not to belabor it but muichoi, first, assumption about me is again inaccurate: I began cooking Chinese recipes from Kenneth Lo, therefore tried them as a beginner. Second, presuming unknown facts about me is off the main issue. Were you to specify in which recipes you found difficulty and why, in Lo's books that I recommended (Chinese Regional Cooking, Chinese Cooking on Next to Nothing, and The Top One Hundred Chinese Dishes), and for Martin Yan's now that you've also dismissed his work, it would give substance to your arguments in readers' eyes. More than repeating "they don't work."

(Just a tip from someone who has been reading such things on the Internet, now coming up on 26 years.)


"... all about food, cooking, cookbooks, recipes and other alimentary effluvia." -- Steve Upstill, announcement on net.general Sun Jan 31 10:16:27 1982.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A fair point..unfortunately I've disposed of my copies of works by both authors. I do recall such things as recipes for beef with oyster sauce, in which a pound of sliced beef is chucked into the wok after a couple of aromatics and a little oil, then seasoned with oyster sauce. Just try it! I will revert later with other examples as you're right that I shouldn't condemn without going into detail. The Yan recipes I've seen are more riffs on vaguely oriental ingredients than genuine Chinese recipes.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Which book has authentic recipes that are also lesser known?

I'm tired of coming across the same recipes over and over again when flipping through countless Chinese cookbooks and I lose the incentive to buy another. So any suggestions for 'unique' Chinese cookbooks would be really wonderful :)

P.S. Hopefully with not too many 'exotic'  ingredients that would be difficult to find in the West; Australia in particular.

A forgotten but truly excellent book is The Chinese Cookbook by Virginia Lee with Craig Claiborne. It was ahead of its time, and is out of print, but you can still find it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I second the recommendation for Mrs. Chiang's Szechwan Cookbook; I don't know why this book is not better known. The Dunlop books are wonderful, but you won't improve on Mrs. Chiang's huiguo rou, for example, and her ultra-simple Hot Pepper Flakes in Oil is a really useful condiment, particularly for dumpling lovers. Scan the secondhand shelves for this one.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Pei Mei's chinese cookbook vol. 1

Found an old copy of this for a few dollars the other day, so thank you for pointing this book out. Recipes look good and straightforward enought to make. I love the very dated photography in the book.

Good going. vol 2 is also worth getting (mum swear by it) - can normally be found floating around amazon and abebooks.

vols 3 and 4 less worthwhile.


More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...

I've always had good luck with any of Martin Yan's recipes as well as Grace Young's. The comment that 'she can't cook' is way out of line, I went to a class she did at Sur La Table a couple of years ago which was great and which has paid dividends many times over for me.

I agree with those who've mentioned Mrs Chiang's Szechuan Cookbook also. I'm particularly fond of the recipe for the sweet and sour spare ribs. I have Kenneth Lo's "Top ONe Hundred Chinese Dishes' and have only tried a couple from there but the ones I've tried have been fine. I'll have to keep an eye out to try to find a copy of Pei Mei's book.

Charles a food and wine addict - "Just as magic can be black or white, so can addictions be good, bad or neither. As long as a habit enslaves it makes the grade, it need not be sinful as well." - Victor Mollo

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

I'm talking different regional foods such as Teochew, Hakka, Fujian, Northeastern, etc. Too often do we get books (as great as they are) discussing either Western-Chinese or Cantonese-style cooking and it's becoming quite a struggle to find a recipe that focuses on something like the food from Chaoshan.

A good sign, however, is that I've noticed an increasing interest in Sichuan/Hunan cooking when I browse at bookstores. It's nice to know that people are branching out and not thinking of a 'sole' style of Chinese cooking.

I was also pleasantly surprised when chrisamirault recently posted about "Beyond the Great Wall", a new cookbook which explores, amongst others, Xinjiang (yay!), Tibetan, Yunnan cuisine -I suppose everything that's not eastern Chinese.

(check out the thread here http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=115247)

But in this thread, I'm still trying to focus on eastern Chinese cuisine (i.e. mainly 'Han' recipes, not necessarily different ethnic groups) yet different regions not so well known.

Can anybody make some recommendations?

THanks in advance :)

Musings and Morsels - a film and food blog


Link to comment
Share on other sites

i thought Sichuan food has always been popular besides Cantonese, no? having been to both provinces several times and love the food there i really can't decide which i like more.

i've recently returned from my 3rd China oinking trip... visited Fujian province for the first time which was a very interesting experience, also foodwise. 3 days of Hunanese food in Changsha were too short. Yunnan is great all round. Xinjiang was on my itinerary but the event of march 14 ruined it all. however i managed to make it to Songpan county, miraculously in time...between before and after they closed it off to foreigners. one place i know i'd never return is Wuyishan, although i quite like the tea eggs there. Shandong will be on my list next time for sure. China is too vast and diverse it's going to take me many years to see/eat it all 6 weeks at a time :biggrin:

[i've had sweet and sour pork only once in my life but it wasn't ordered by me, and not in China.]

Link to comment
Share on other sites


Here are four books that I love. None gives you exactly what you want, but they all have tempting bits of it.

All but Martin Yan's book are out of print, but they are inexpensive from the used book dealers.

Calvin B. T. Lee

The gourmet Chinese regional cookbook (ISBN: 9780399116735)

This is a low-key introduction from about 25-30 years ago, when ingredients were not readily available. You may want to make some modifications. Lots of stuff from Eastern provinces.


Yong Yap Cotterell

Chinese Cooking for Pleasure (ISBN: 094153362X)

The same but different. These two books complement each other beautifully.


Ken Hom

The Taste of China (ISBN: 1858131499)

This is more of a journey-to-the-west type of book, but lots of good stuff from K.H.-s home village and nearby.


Martin Yan

Martin Yan's Chinatown Cooking The Companion Cookbook To The Public Television Series (ISBN: 0060084758)

This book is excellent. It shows how the various "ethnicities" have brought their cuisine to foreign lands, and developed cuisines around them.


All of these books will make you want to cook!


Food is all about history and geography.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just FYI, sweet and sour pork is a REAL Chinese dish, although much more refined than the ketchup and pineapple versions you get at cheap Chinese restaurants. Made properly, with wah mui (preserved sour plums), it can be a revelation.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

BonVivantNL: You're right, Sichuan food is one of the more popular regional Chinese cuisines, but nowhere near as popular as Cantonese in the West I don't think (at least not where I live).

Please tell me more about Fujian when you can! :biggrin:

Big Bunny: Thanks so much for the recommendations :) Martin Yan is indeed good! I have a free cookbook (more of promotion book but it had plenty of recipes) from him and it's truly wonderful and *drum roll* VARIED!

Your mention of his "Chinatown Cooking" really caught my eye -I really enjoy cookbooks complete with a mini history lesson and that book sort of sounds like it does!

It seems these regional books I'm after tend to be passed down by word of mouth rather than printed for purchase...sigh...

aprilmei: I'm aware there's a real version of sweet sour pork (thanks for the heads up anyway) but I was trying to make a point that I wanted Chinese recipes that were a little different/not so common :smile:

Musings and Morsels - a film and food blog


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Chinese regional cookbooks tend not to stay in print for long. Most of the ones I have are either from used book stores, or cut-out tables.

Now that I can (sort-of) afford it, I watch for new Chinese cookbooks as they are published.

If you can, spend time in good, old used book shops and see what comes along. In the beginning stages of building a library, random finds are valuable, and lots of fun.


Food is all about history and geography.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


  • Similar Content

    • By ojisan
      Does anyone have any thoughts about Alice Waters' new "40 Years of Chez Panisse"? Not a recipe cookbook - more of a memoir/history/picture book.
    • By liuzhou
      Note: This follows on from the Munching with the Miao topic.
      The three-hour journey north from Miao territory ended up taking four, as the driver missed a turning and we had to drive on to the next exit and go back. But our hosts waited for us at the expressway exit and led us up a winding road to our destination - Buyang 10,000 mu tea plantation (布央万亩茶园 bù yāng wàn mǔ chá yuán) The 'mu' is  a Chinese measurement of area equal to 0.07 of a hectare, but the 10,000 figure is just another Chinese way of saying "very large".
      We were in Sanjiang Dong Autonomous County, where 57% of the inhabitants are Dong.
      The Dong people (also known as the Kam) are noted for their tea, love of glutinous rice and their carpentry and architecture. And their hospitality. They tend to live at the foot of mountains, unlike the Miao who live in the mid-levels.
      By the time we arrived, it was lunch time, but first we had to have a sip of the local tea. This lady did the preparation duty.


      This was what we call black tea, but the Chinese more sensibly call 'red tea'. There is something special about drinking tea when you can see the bush it grew on just outside the window!
      Then into lunch:


      Chicken Soup

      The ubiquitous Egg and Tomato

      Dried fish with soy beans and chilli peppers. Delicious.

      Stir fried lotus root

      Daikon Radish

      Rice Paddy Fish Deep Fried in Camellia Oil - wonderful with a smoky flavour, but they are not smoked.

      Out of Focus Corn and mixed vegetable

      Fried Beans

      Steamed Pumpkin


      Beef with Bitter Melon

      Glutinous (Sticky) Rice


      The juiciest pomelo ever. The area is known for the quality of its pomelos.
      After lunch we headed out to explore the tea plantation.




      Interspersed with the tea plants are these camellia trees, the seeds of which are used to make the Dong people's preferred cooking oil.

      As we climbed the terraces we could hear singing and then came across this group of women. They are the tea pickers. It isn't tea picking time, but they came out in their traditional costumes to welcome us with their call and response music. They do often sing when picking. They were clearly enjoying themselves.

      And here they are:
      After our serenade we headed off again, this time to the east and the most memorable meal of the trip. Coming soon.
    • By liuzhou
      It sometimes seems likes every town in China has its own special take on noodles. Here in Liuzhou, Guangxi the local dish is Luosifen (螺蛳粉 luó sī fěn).
      It is a dish of rice noodles served in a very spicy stock made from the local river snails and pig bones which are stewed for hours with black cardamom, fennel seed, dried tangerine peel, cassia bark, cloves, pepper, bay leaf, licorice root, sand ginger, and star anise. Various pickled vegetables, dried tofu skin, fresh green vegetables, peanuts and loads of chilli are then usually added. Few restaurants ever reveal their precise recipe, so this is tentative. Luosifen is only really eaten in small restaurants and roadside stalls. I've never heard of anyone making it at home.
      In order to promote tourism to the city, the local government organised a food festival featuring an event named "10,000 people eat luosifen together." (In Chinese 10,000 often just means "many".)
      10,000 people (or a lot of people anyway) gathered at Liuzhou International Convention and Exhibition Centre for the grand Liuzhou luosifen eat-in. Well, they gathered in front of the centre – the actual centre is a bleak, unfinished, deserted shell of a building. I disguised myself as a noodle and joined them. 10,001.

      The vast majority of the 10,000 were students from the local colleges who patiently and happily lined up to be seated. Hey, mix students and free food – of course they are happy.

      Each table was equipped with a basket containing bottled water, a thermos flask of hot water, paper bowls, tissues etc. And most importantly, a bunch of Luosifen caps. These read “万人同品螺蛳粉” which means “10,000 people together enjoy luosifen”

      Yep, that is the soup pot! 15 meters in diameter and holding eleven tons of stock. Full of snails and pork bones, spices etc. Chefs delicately added ingredients to achieve the precise, subtle taste required.

      Noodles were distributed, soup added and dried ingredients incorporated then there was the sound of 10,000 people slurping.

      Surrounding the luosifen eating area were several stalls selling different goodies. Lamb kebabs (羊肉串) seemed most popular, but there was all sorts of food. Here are few of the delights on offer.

      Whole roast lamb or roast chicken

      Lamb Kebabs

      Kebab spice mix – Cumin, chilli powder, salt and MSG

      Kebab stall


      Different crab

      Sweet sticky rice balls

      Things on sticks

      Grilled scorpions

      Pig bones and bits

      And much more.
      To be honest, it wasn’t the best luosifen I’ve ever eaten, but it was wasn’t the worst. Especially when you consider the number they were catering for. But it was a lot of fun. Which was the point.
    • By liuzhou
      Chinese food must be among the most famous in the world. Yet, at the same time, the most misunderstood.

      I feel sure (hope) that most people here know that American-Chinese cuisine, British-Chinese cuisine, Indian-Chinese cuisine etc are, in huge ways, very different from Chinese-Chinese cuisine and each other. That's not what I want to discuss.

      Yet, every day I still come across utter nonsense on YouTube videos and Facebook about the "real" Chinese cuisine, even from ethnically Chinese people (who have often never been in China). Sorry YouTube "influencers", but sprinkling soy sauce or 5-spice powder on your cornflakes does not make them Chinese!
      So what is the "authentic" Chinese food? Well, like any question about China, there are several answers. It is not surprising that a country larger than western Europe should have more than one typical culinary style. Then, we must distinguish between what you may be served in a large hotel dining room, a small local restaurant, a street market stall or in a Chinese family's home.

      That said, in this topic, I want to attempt to debunk some of the more prevalent myths. Not trying to start World War III.

      When I moved to China from the UK 25 years ago, I had my preconceptions. They were all wrong. Sweet and sour pork with egg fried rice was reported to be the second favourite dish in Britain, and had, of course, to be preceded by a plate of prawn/shrimp crackers. All washed down with a lager or three.

      Yet, in that quarter of a century, I've seldom seen a prawn cracker. And egg fried rice is usually eaten as a quick dish on its own, not usually as an accompaniment to main courses. Every menu featured a starter of prawn/shrimp toast which I have never seen in mainland China - just once in Hong Kong.

      But first, one myth needs to be dispelled. The starving Chinese! When I was a child I was encouraged to eat the particularly nasty bits on the plate by being told that the starving Chinese would lap them up. My suggestion that we could post it to them never went down too well. At that time (the late fifties) there was indeed a terrible famine in China (almost entirely manmade (Maomade)).

      When I first arrived in China, it was after having lived in Soviet Russia and I expected to see the same long lines of people queuing up to buy nothing very much in particular. Instead, on my first visit to a market (in Hunan Province), I was confronted with a wider range of vegetables, seafood, meat and assorted unidentified frying objects than I have ever seen anywhere else. And it was so cheap I couldn't convert to UK pounds or any other useful currency.
      I'm going to start with some of the simpler issues - later it may get ugly!

      1. Chinese people eat everything with chopsticks.

      No, they don't! Most things, yes, but spoons are also commonly used in informal situations. I recently had lunch in a university canteen. It has various stations selling different items. I found myself by the fried rice stall and ordered some Yangzhou fried rice. Nearly all the students and faculty sitting near me were having the same.

      I was using my chopsticks to shovel the food in, when I noticed that I was the only one doing so. Everyone else was using spoons. On investigating, I was told that the lunch break is so short at only two-and-a-half hours that everyone wants to eat quickly and rush off for their compulsory siesta.
      I've also seen claims that people eat soup with chopsticks. Nonsense. While people use chopsticks to pick out choice morsels from the broth, they will drink the soup by lifting their bowl to their mouths like cups. They ain't dumb!

      Anyway, with that very mild beginning, I'll head off and think which on my long list will be next.

      Thanks to @KennethT for advice re American-Chinese food.
    • By liuzhou
      Your wish is my command! Sometimes! A lot of what I say here, I will have already said in scattered topics across the forums, but I guess it's useful to bring it all into one place.
      First, I want to say that China uses literally thousands of herbs. But not in their food. Most herbs are used medicinally in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), often in their dried form. Some of the more common are sold in supermarkets, but more often in pharmacies or small specialist stores. I also often see people on the streets with baskets of unidentified greenery for sale - but not for dinner. The same applies to spices, although more spices are used in a culinary setting than are herbs.
      I’ll start with Sichuan peppercorns as these are what prompted @Tropicalsenior to suggest the topic.
      1. Sichuan Peppercorns
      Sichuan peppercorns are neither pepper nor, thank the heavens, c@rn! Nor are they necessarily from Sichuan. They are actually the seed husks of one of a number of small trees in the genus Zanthoxylum and are related to the citrus family.  The ‘Sichuan’ name in English comes from their copious use in Sichuan cuisine, but not necessarily where they are grown. Known in Chinese as 花椒 (huājiāo), literally ‘flower pepper’’, they are also known as ‘prickly ash’ and, less often, as ‘rattan pepper’.
      The most common variety used in China is 红花椒 (hóng huā jiāo) or red Sichuan peppercorn, but often these are from provinces other than Sichuan, especially Gansu, Sichuan’s northern neighbour. They are sold all over China and, ground, are a key ingredient in “five-spice powder” mixes. They are essential in many Sichuan dishes where they contribute their numbing effect to Sichuan’s 麻辣 (má là), so-called ‘hot and numbing’ flavour. Actually the Chinese is ‘numbing and hot’. I’ve no idea why the order is reversed in translation, but it happens a lot – ‘hot and sour’ is actually ‘sour and hot’ in Chinese!
      The peppercorns are essential in dishes such as 麻婆豆腐 (má pó dòu fǔ) mapo tofu, 宫保鸡丁 (gōng bǎo jī dīng) Kung-po chicken, etc. They are also used in other Chinese regional cuisines, such as Hunan and Guizhou cuisines.

      Red Sichuan peppercorns can come from a number of Zanthoxylum varieties including Zanthoxylum simulans, Zanthoxylum bungeanum, Zanthoxylum schinifolium, etc.

      Red Sichuan Peppercorns
      Another, less common, variety is 青花椒 (qīng huā jiāo) green Sichuan peppercorn, Zanthoxylum armatum. These are also known as 藤椒 (téng jiāo). This grows all over Asia, from Pakistan to Japan and down to the countries of SE Asia. This variety is significantly more floral in taste and, at its freshest, smells strongly of lime peel. These are often used with fish, rabbit, frog etc. Unlike red peppercorns (usually), the green variety are often used in their un-dried state, but not often outside Sichuan.

      Green Sichuan Peppercorns

      Fresh Green Sichuan Peppercorns

      I strongly recommend NOT buying Sichuan peppercorns in supermarkets outside China. They lose their scent, flavour and numbing quality very rapidly. There are much better examples available on sale online. I have heard good things about The Mala Market in the USA, for example.

      I buy mine in small 30 gram / 1oz bags from a high turnover vendor. And that might last me a week. It’s better for me to restock regularly than to use stale peppercorns.

      Both red and green peppercorns are used in the preparation of flavouring oils, often labelled in English as 'Prickly Ash Oil'. 花椒油 (huā jiāo yóu) or 藤椒油 (téng jiāo yóu).

      The tree's leaves are also used in some dishes in Sichuan, but I've never seen them out of the provinces where they grow.
      A note on my use of ‘Sichuan’ rather than ‘Szechuan’.
      If you ever find yourself in Sichuan, don’t refer to the place as ‘Szechuan’. No one will have any idea what you mean!

      ‘Szechuan’ is the almost prehistoric transliteration of 四川, using the long discredited Wade-Giles romanization system. Thomas Wade was a British diplomat who spoke fluent Mandarin and Cantonese. After retiring as a diplomat, he was elected to the post of professor of Chinese at Cambridge University, becoming the first to hold that post. He had, however, no training in theoretical linguistics. Herbert Giles was his replacement. He (also a diplomat rather than an academic) completed a romanization system begun by Wade. This became popular in the late 19th century, mainly, I suggest, because there was no other!

      Unfortunately, both seem to have been a little hard of hearing. I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked why the Chinese changed the name of their capital from Peking to Beijing. In fact, the name didn’t change at all. It had always been pronounced with /b/ rather than /p/ and /ʤ/ rather than /k/. The only thing which changed was the writing system.

      In 1958, China adopted Pinyin as the standard romanization, not to help dumb foreigners like me, but to help lower China’s historically high illiteracy rate. It worked very well indeed, Today, it is used in primary schools and in some shop or road signs etc., although street signs seldom, if ever, include the necessary tone markers without which it isn't very helpful.

      A local shopping mall. The correct pinyin (with tone markers) is 'dōng dū bǎi huò'.
      But pinyin's main use today is as the most popular input system for writing Chinese characters on computers and cell-phones. I use it in this way every day, as do most people. It is simpler and more accurate than older romanizations. I learned it in one afternoon.  I doubt anyone could have done that with Wade-Giles.
      Pinyin has been recognised for over 30 years as the official romanization by the International Standards Organization (ISO), the United Nations and, believe it or not, The United States of America, along with many others. Despite this recognition, old romanizations linger on, especially in America. Very few people in China know any other than pinyin. 四川 is  'sì chuān' in pinyin.
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Create New...