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 an account.

liuzhou

Fuchsia Dunlop's Top 5 Books on Chinese Food

Recommended Posts

Interesting interview by "The Browser" with Fuchsia Dunlop in which she gives her top 5 Chinese food books.

  • Classic Food of China - Yan-Kit So
  • Food in Chinese Culture - KC Chang
  • The Food of China - EN Anderson
  • China to Chinatown - JAG Roberts
  • The Gourmet - Lu Wenfu

Apart from her own books, I'm not sure what I'd add.

The interview is at:

http://thebrowser.com/interviews/fuschia-dunlop-on-chinese-food?page=1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As an American, I'd suggest The Key to Chinese Cooking is a pretty good book for any collection. Additionally, those Time-Life Foods of the World books were an invaluable resource when I first started cooking.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I second Mitch Weinstein on Irene Kuo's The Key To Chinese Cooking and I would add Grace Young's The Breath of a Wok.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Apart from her own books, I'm not sure what I'd add.

Are her books that good? I know she gets mentioned here a lot and there are some threads about cooking with her books, but, I've never seen one. Which one of her books would you say is the best?

I took a cooking class here in Beijing a few weeks back and dropped her name, the people there seemed to think that her recipes weren't completely authentic, that they were altered a bit to suit western tastes?

Personally, I like Irene Kuo's book a lot. Mark Bittman recommended 'The Thousand Recipe Chinese Cookbook' by Gloria Bley Miller and it's pretty good too. 'The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking' by Barbara Tropp was recommended by several people, would anyone add it to the "best list"?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd first say that the recipes are as authentic as they can be allowing for ingredient availability. And where she substitutes, she spells it out. Many of my Sichuanese friends have borrowed her Sichuan book, spent hours scribbling notes and have no complaints. The Hunan book recipes taste exactly like what I ate in Hunan when I lived there in the 1990s.

I'd recommend the Sichuan book first.

In the USA, it is called "Land of Plenty: A Treasury of Authentic Sichuan Cooking" and in her native UK it's "Sichuan Cookery". Don't do what one friend did, and buy both. There are minor differences re availability of ingredients, stockists, measurements etc., but they are essentially the same.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How to Cook and Eat in Chinese by Bu Wei Yang Chao was my bible almost 50 years ago when I was a peripatetic young adult who needed a Chinese food fix once in a while, and my elders weren't there to guide me. I will freely admit (confess) that I have a very extensive collection of Chinese cookbooks which are neatly shelved in my kitchen, but rarely used, Buwei is my "go to" girl if I ever need a reminder of a procedure or ingredient.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Are her books that good? I know she gets mentioned here a lot and there are some threads about cooking with her books, but, I've never seen one. Which one of her books would you say is the best?

I took a cooking class here in Beijing a few weeks back and dropped her name, the people there seemed to think that her recipes weren't completely authentic, that they were altered a bit to suit western tastes?

Yes, that good. I'd guess I have 100+ cookery books (I know not a big library compared to a lot of contributors here), and her Sichuan book is by far the most used I have. Never eaten in China but I would say that she specifies in detail in a few places where she isn't being 100% authentic. Stuff like not using quite some many kilos of chillies :-) or making a stew with just chicken livers rather than the blood and intestines too, although she goes on to describe how to prepare those items if you want them. Hunanese book is great too. I recommend them both to anyone I can bore with about how good they are.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Also, she's an excellent writer with a sharp eye and a keen ear.

Her memoir about learning to cook in China is un-putdownable. It contains recipes as well. It's called "Shark Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China," and I can't recommend it highly enough.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ok, I've got the US version of the Sichuanese cookbook and the memoir (although I'm not a huge fan of stories about food) in my Amazon shopping cart. Is the Hunanese book worth getting as well? So many recipes, so little time... It's US$ 20 an order, plus US$ 5 a book to China so I like to fill up my cart, preferably with heavy books that would weigh down a suitcase quickly.

I've also got one the books she mentions in 'The Browser' article in my cart, "The Food of China" by E. N. Anderson. It looks like a valuable cultural study. Food is such a huge part of the culture here. Amazon's got the 'Look Inside' feature on this book which is nice as the closet decent English-language bookstore is in Hong Kong.

Perhaps there's a thread about excellent Chinese cookbooks here, I should search for it.

Your comments are appreciated!


Edited by Big Joe the Pro (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Is the Hunanese book worth getting as well?

I'd say yes - they are quite different. But perhaps you might want to see how you get on with the Sichuan first.

I take your point about filling your cart, though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Perhaps there's a thread about excellent Chinese cookbooks here, I should search for it.

Three are a few. e.g.

Authentic Chinese Cookbook Recommendations

Chinese cookbooks What's your favorite?

Or do a Google search with:

site:egullet.org Chinese cookbook

and go through the list.

http://www.google.com/#sclient=psy&hl=en&site=&source=hp&q=site:egullet.org+chinese+cookbook&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.&fp=bb9a4fba297be287&biw=1492&bih=730


Edited by hzrt8w (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ok thanks Ah Leung. Your pictoral recipes are pretty good! They're a recent discovery for me and I made the Lemon Chicken and Hong Kong-style Curry Chicken this week to excellent reviews from the better half.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So many great books on that link from hzrt! I'd like to add Simoon's "Food in China" (A cultural and historical inquiry) which is in the same line as Anderson and Chang, in that they are not 'cookbooks' as much as sources of information.

I have loads of cookbooks, too, as many here. I do like the Wei-Chuan series -- Chinese Cuisine 1 and 2. Also Chinese Snacks.

Deh-Ta Hsiung's "The Chinese Kitchen" is a good 'ingredient' cookbook featuring recipes from specific ingredients. I like his "Regional Chinese Cooking", too.

I go for authors, too. Ken Hom comes to mind.

Dear to my heart is Calvin Lee's "Chinese Cooking", my 1st cookbook in 1958, and also Lin/Lin's "Chinese Gastronomy"

Funny thing --- about the internet and so much access to Chinese recipes. I was working on a recipe once, and forgot something, so I went back to the internet looking for it. No where to be found! Not even in my recent history! I was absolutely puzzled, until I remembered that it was one of my own BOOKS I had been reading!

I've loved collecting cookbook over the years, and have read every one. What to do with them all, tho, if we leave this place and move to a much smaller place!!??

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ok, all three of her books have been in my possession for over several weeks now and I'm very impressed. Upon seeing the cover of her memoir I realized why I hadn't paid her more attention until now; the cover of the US edition totally turns me off. I'd seen that at the bookstore and - not knowing anything about her or her work - thought, 'why would I care about this persons exploits in China?'.

Amazon's shipping to China has gone down in price?!? I ordered five books and last year that would've cost US$45 ($20 a shipment plus $5 a book). This time it was US$29-something and they arrived in less than two weeks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd add that The Wisdom the Chinese Kitchen by Grace Young is pretty authentic, and I've lately been reading the recipes at www.foodcanon.com - the blogger there combines modern techniques with traditional recipes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How to Cook and Eat in Chinese by Bu Wei Yang Chao was my bible almost 50 years ago when I was a peripatetic young adult who needed a Chinese food fix once in a while, and my elders weren't there to guide me. I will freely admit (confess) that I have a very extensive collection of Chinese cookbooks which are neatly shelved in my kitchen, but rarely used, Buwei is my "go to" girl if I ever need a reminder of a procedure or ingredient.

I couldn't agree with you more! Why is that great book out of print!? Just last year I found an older hard-cover edition to go with my falling apart paperback. PS Buwei invented the English term "stir fry".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Seriously?

Well, Wikipedia says so, so it must be true.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Similar Content

    • 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 lead 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
       

      Chicken
       

      Beef with Bitter Melon
       

      Glutinous (Sticky) Rice
       

      Oranges
       

      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 seranade we headed off again, this time to the east and the most memorable meal of the trip. Coming soon.
       
       
    • By liuzhou
      Last week, Liuzhou government invited a number of diplomats from Laos, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar/Burma, Poland, and Germany to visit the city and prefecture. They also invited me along. We spent Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday introducing the diplomats to the culture of the local ethnic groups and especially to their food culture.
       
      First off, we headed two hours north into the mountains of Rongshui Miao Autonomous County. The Miao people (苗族 miáo zú), who include the the Hmong, live in the mid-levels of mountains and are predominantly subsistence farmers. Our first port of call was the county town, also Rongshui (融水 róng shuǐ, literal meaning: Melt Water) where we were to have lunch. But before lunch we had to go meet some people and see their local crafts. These are people I know well from my frequent work trips to the area, but for the diplomats, it was all new.
       
      So, I had to wait for lunch, and I see no reason why you shouldn't either. Here are some of the people I live and work with.


       
      This lovely young woman is wearing the traditional costume of an unmarried girl. Many young women wear this every day, but most only on festive occasions.
       
      Her hat is made from silver (and is very heavy). Here is a closer look.
       

       
      Married women dispense with those gladrags and go for this look:
       

       
      As you can see she is weaving bamboo into a lantern cover.
       
      The men tend to go for this look, although I'm not sure that the Bluetooth earpiece for his cellphone is strictly traditional.
       

       
      The children don't get spared either
       

       
      This little girl is posing with the Malaysian Consul-General.
       
      After meeting these people we went on to visit a 芦笙 (lú shēng) workshop. The lusheng is a reed wind instrument and an important element in the Miao, Dong and Yao peoples' cultures.
       

       

       
      Then at last we headed to the restaurant, but as is their custom, in homes and restaurants, guests are barred from entering until they go through the ritual of the welcoming cup of home-brewed rice wine.
       


      The consular staff from Myanmar/Burma and Malaysia "unlock" the door.
       
      Then you have the ritual hand washing part.
       

       
      Having attended to your personal hygiene, but before  entering the dining room, there is one more ritual to go through. You arrive here and sit around this fire and wok full of some mysterious liquid on the boil.
       

       
      On a nearby table is this
       

       
      Puffed rice, soy beans, peanuts and scallion. These are ladled into bowls.
       

       
      with a little salt, and then drowned in the "tea" brewing in the wok.
       
      This is  油茶 (yóu chá) or Oil Yea. The tea is made from Tea Seed Oil which is made from the seeds of the camellia bush. This dish is used as a welcoming offering to guests in homes and restaurants. Proper etiquette suggests that three cups is a minimum, but they will keep refilling your cup until you stop drinking. First time I had it I really didn't like it, but I persevered and now look forward to it.
       

      L-R: Director of the Foreign Affairs Dept of Liuzhou government, consuls-general of Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos.
       
      Having partaken of the oil tea, finally we are allowed to enter the dining room, where two tables have been laid out for our use.
       

       
      Let the eating, finally, begin.
       
      In no particular order:
       

      Steamed corn, taro and sweet potato
       

      Bamboo Shoots
       

      Duck
       

      Banana leaf stuffed with sticky rice and mixed vegetables and steamed.
       

      Egg pancake with unidentified greenery
       

      Stir fried pork and beans
       

      Stir fried Chinese banana (Ensete lasiocarpum)
       

      Pig Ears
       

      This may not look like much, but was the star of the trip. Rice paddy fish, deep fried in camellia tree seed oil with wild mountain herbs.
      We ate this at every meal, cooked with slight variations, but never tired of it.
       

      Stir fried Greens
       
      Our meal was accompanied by the wait staff singing to us and serving home-made rice wine (sweetish and made from the local sticky rice).
       
       
       
       
      Everything we ate was grown or reared within half a kilometre of the restaurant and was all free-range, organic. And utterly delicious.
       
      Roll on dinner time.
       
      On the trip I was designated the unofficial official photographer and ended up taking 1227 photographs. I just got back last night and was busy today, so I will try to post the rest of the first day (and dinner) as soon as I can.
    • By liuzhou
      These have been mentioned a couple of times recently on different threads and I felt they deserved one of their own. After all, they did keep me alive when I lived in Xi'an.
       
      Rou jia mo (ròu jiá mò; literally "Meat Sandwich") are Chinese sandwiches which originated in Shaanxi Province, but can be found all over China. Away from their point of origin, they tend to be made with long stewed pork belly. However in Xi'an (capital of Shaanxi), there is a large Muslim population so the meat of choice is more usually beef. In nearby Gansu Province, lamb or mutton is more likely.
       
      When I was living in Xi'an in 1996-1997, I lived on these. I was living on campus in North-West University (西北大学) and right outside the school gate was a street lined with cheap food joints, most of which would serve you one. I had one favourite place which I still head to when I visit. First thing I do when I get off the train.
       
      What I eat is Cumin Beef Jia Mo (孜然牛肉夹馍 zī rán niú ròu jiá mò). The beef is stir fried or BBQd with cumin and mild green peppers. It is also given a bit of a kick with red chill flakes.
       
      Here is a recipe wrested from the owner of my Xi'an favourite. So simple, yet so delicious.
       

      Lean Beef
       
      Fairly lean beef is cut into slivers
       

      Chopped Beef (sorry about the picture quality - I don't know what happened)
       

      Chopped garlic
       
      I use this single clove garlic from Sichuan, but regular garlic does just fine.
       
      The beef and garlic are mixed in a bowl and generously sprinkled with ground cumin. This is then moistened with a little light soy sauce. You don't want to flood it. Set aside for as long as you can.
       

      Mild Green Chilli Pepper
       
      Take one or two mild green peppers and crush with the back of a knife, then slice roughly. You could de-seed if you prefer. I don't bother.
       

      Chopped Green Pepper
       
      Fire up the wok, add oil (I use rice bran oil) and stir fry the meat mixture until the meat is just done. 
       

      Frying Tonight
       
      Then add the green peppers and fry until they are as you prefer them. I tend to like them still with a bit of crunch, so slightly under-cook them
       

      In with the peppers
       
      You will, of course, have prepared the bread. The sandwiches are made with a type of flat bread known as 白吉饼 (bái jí bǐng; literally "white lucky cake-shape"). The ones here are store bought but I often make them. Recipe below.
       

      Bai Ji Bing
       
      Take one and split it. Test the seasoning of the filling, adding salt if necessary. It may not need it because of the soy sauce. 
       

      Nearly there
       
      Cover to make a sandwich  and enjoy. You will see that I have used a bunch of kitchen paper to hold the sandwich and to soak up any escaping juices. But it should be fairly dry.
       

      The final product.
       
      Note: I usually cook the meat and pepper in batches. Enough for one sandwich per person at a time. If we need another (and we usually do) I start the next batch. 
       
       
      Bread Recipe
       
       
      350g plain flour
      140ml water
      1/2 teaspoon instant yeast

      Mix the yeast with the flour and stir in the water. Continue stirring until a dough forms. Knead until smooth. Cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap and leave to rise by about one third. (maybe 30-40 minutes).
       
      Knead again to remove any air then roll the dough into a log shape around 5cm in diameter, then cut into six portions. Press these into a circle shape using a rolling pin. You want to end up with 1.5cm thick buns. 
       
      Preheat oven to 190C/370F.
       
      Dry fry the buns in a skillet until they take on some colour about a minute or less on each side, then finish in the oven for ten minutes. Allow to cool before using.
    • By Chris Hennes
      I just got a copy of Grace Young's "Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge"—I enjoyed cooking from "Breath of a Wok" and wanted to continue on that path. Does anyone else have this book? Have you cooked anything from it?

      Here was dinner tonight:

      Spicy Dry-Fried Beef (p. 70)

      I undercooked the beef just a bit due to a waning propane supply (I use an outdoor propane-powered wok burner), but there's nothing to complain about here. It's a relatively mild dish that lets the flavors of the ingredients (and the wok) speak. Overall I liked it, at will probably make it again (hopefully with a full tank of gas).


    • By liuzhou
      We are all used to unami now. Maybe it's time to consider gan. Particularly found in teas, but also in other foods. An interesting article from a great magazine.
       
      Going, going gan
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×