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Fuchsia Dunlop's Top 5 Books on Chinese Food


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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

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

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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.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

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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.

'A person's integrity is never more tested than when he has power over a voiceless creature.' A C Grayling.

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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"?

Maybe I would have more friends if I didn't eat so much garlic?

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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.

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)

Maybe I would have more friends if I didn't eat so much garlic?

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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.

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

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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)
W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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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.

Maybe I would have more friends if I didn't eat so much garlic?

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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!!??

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  • 2 months later...

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.

Maybe I would have more friends if I didn't eat so much garlic?

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  • 3 months later...

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".

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