Customer Review

2 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars who is she trying to kid?, 9 April 2014
This review is from: Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking (Hardcover)
I think it is deliberately misleading that a table of contents is not displayed because if it had been i would never have bought this book. If you habitually throw in ginger and green onions into your cooking, you would probably have cooked at least a third of the recipes in this book already. Like chilli and broccoli, ginger chinese broccoli, eggs and tomatos and similar. Another chunk of recipes are watered down versions of those in her Szechuan cookbook with a few key ingredients left out, so they taste neither here nor there. To those unfamiliar with authentic chinese food, the cooking that results from this book may seem different and exotic enough and thus not question why the depth of flavour isn't there. My friends even substitute balsamic for chikiang vinegar, and sherry for shaojing wine and have no idea the substitution alter the dishes completely. I wonder who this cookbook is written for. To claim to be both classic and authoritative yet deliver a hotchpotch of uninspiring, incoherent selection of recipes, some overly simplified is only fine if you label it as such. And I cannot understand why the publishers keep referring to this book as food from Southern China. Its features none of the signature dishes from many southern provinces, and focus in the main on the one province the author knows, with the addition of a few Cantonese dishes like black bean chicken green veg dish and fried rice and one or two from Zhejiang province from restaurants she'd visited, plus a version of the oyster omelette allegedly from Fujian province. It's clear it also tries to be a vegetarian cookbook hence a lot of classic meat dishes are made with the meat taken out. There is actually a fine vegetarian cooking tradition in southern china, yet the author never even mentions it. Its a book that tries too hard to be all things to all people, boasting of an authority that really isn't there. It is also lazy, so it ends up serving only those who haven't got a clue
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 4 Sep 2014 12:25:10 BDT
boo says:
Disagree. This is the one of the best Chinese cookbooks on the market, just like her other books. You may habitually throw in ginger and green onions into your cooking but it doesn't mean you understand it. (And Chinese cooking doesn't require habitually throw in ginger and green onions). REAL home-style Chinese cooking IS simple, with a little meat cut into slices/slivers/dices and cooked with vegetables, accompanied by one or two main meat dishes, depending on how many are eating. She has explained it quite well in the book, if you care to read it properly. It is certainly NOT trying to be vegetarian book, otherwise why would she include recipes such as bacon with garlic shoots and broad beans with ham etc?! I have no idea why you think this book features southern Chinese cooking. She has made it clear in the introduction that this book is about traditional homey cooking and more importantly it's about how the Chinese eat. She was train as a chef at the Sichuan Institute of Higher Cuisine in Chengdu so it is understandable this book still features a lot of Sichuan dishes. It is impossible to sum up Chinese cookery in one book and compared to others she has done a wonderful job. The book is in English so obviously it is geared towards the Western market. As her other books only focus on one region (e.g. Sichuan and Hunan) I would say this is the best book so far to cover general Chinese cooking. A lot of dishes such as tomato and egg, broad bean soup with snow vegetables, and hot & sour shredded potato etc are fairly "generic" Chinese dishes that most Chinese people grew up with. You clearly got the wrong end of the stick. Fuchsia Dunlop has real understanding of Chinese cuisine and the history/culture associated, and respects it. Some recipes such as Shanghai Pak Choi rice or Hong Shao Rou need improving but overall this book is great. PS as for chikiang vinegar/ shaoxing wine, Fuchsia Dunlop always includes them in the store cupboard list but it is OK to substitute with balsamic vinegar or sherry, IF you know which type of balsamic vinegar or sherry to buy. IF you choose the right type and cook with the correct skill, the difference is minimal. Oh BTW, fried rice is not a Cantonese speciality and those dishes you thought are from Zhejiang can be seen all around the Yangtze delta region. Your comment just goes to show who is the one that hasn't got a clue.
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