on 22 July 2007
When I became a vegetarian, the one thing I knew I was gong to miss was good chinese food. Despite the Chinese having a reputation for vegetarianism, most of the vegetarian food I have had in Chinese Restaurants has been dismal and that is being kind.
Likewise with most books dealing with Chinese vegetarian recipes. Most of them have been written from a meat-eater's point of view and to be honest, the recipes are far from inspiring. I think even the most inexperienced of vegetarian cooks can chop a few vegetables and throw in some blackbean sauce.
But along comes this book and all the tables are turned. One thing that most people fail to realise about Chinese Vegetarian Dishes, is that they are not just bits of tofu thrown into shredded vegetables, but there is a tradition of Mock meats: that is, turning soya and gluten products into acceptible meat substitutes. This book deals with the proper Chinese Vegetarian Kitchen and discusses Mock Meats in depth and the recipes are ones you will want to experiment with.
However, as with most books targetting the American vegetarian Market, there is little consideration for the UK Market, in which it is nigh on impossible to find wheat gluten: you will have to make your own and find a way to incorporate it into your recipe. But if you are familiar with making your own seitan, it should not be too much of a trauma - it wasn't for me.
If like me, you have missed "real" Chinese Food, then like me, get this book and get one for your friend too - they may thank you for it!