I have received as a present the latest book from my favorite culinary publisher Phaidon. Phaidon came out with China: The Cookbook as part their bestsellers cuisine series including The Silver Spoon.
This culinary series is great in terms of content as it covers the entire culinary repertoire of a country with really great recipes. They are definitely my go to book when I need a classic recipe from a particular country or region. No other culinary book series beats them on that aspect. They are authoritative books when it comes down to showcase the culinary diversity of various regions and countries.
Although the book is very nice in terms of layout and pictures, they are still very dry. I do not believe this book is for everyone as you are not driven by a picture to try attempting a recipe. In fact, most recipes don’t have a picture as such you have to know what you are looking after or simply experiment.
China: The Cookbook features over 600 regional recipes from China. Many amongst us European believe that Chinese food is unified and Chinese eat pretty much the same thing. This idea is completely wrong and comes from what see and taste in Chinese Restaurant back home. As I have learned over years living in Hong Kong, Chinese food is extremely diversified given how the landscape, climate, terrains and local specifies shape Chinese food. Each of China main region got a distinct flavor for example spicy in Sichuan or salty in the North as well as noodles in the north while in the south we have rice.
What this books do is to bring all of these recipes from these various regions available to the reader as well as selected recipes from chef from around the world. Examples of recipes includes Dim Sum, a local HK speciality, Jiangsu’s drunken chicken, beef in Sha Cha Sauce form Chaozhou. Furthermore, this books features sections on Chinese cooking techniques, history and equipment.
I have already tried out some of their recipes and although still struggling a bit with some of techniques, it was a clear it.
China: The Cookbook enjoys stellar reviews including Ken Hom calling it a “valuable reference for many years to come” or the South China Morning Post naming it as “the definitive Chinese recipe book”. In my opinion, this will be on my shelf for many years to come as it is truly the book of reference when it comes to Chinese food.