Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Sep 12, 2005 07:04 PM

Best Chinese Cookbook?

  • v

Any ideas? Looking for cookbook for authentic preparation and technique. So, no Yan Can Cook stuff please. I already have The Mandarin Way by Cecilia Chaing (tho it's more meoir than anyhting). Mainly interested in Cantonese, Shanghainese cuisines. Thanks!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Virginia Lee's book written with Craig Claiborne is still the best. Her food is awesome.

    6 Replies
    1. re: FLEUR

      I donated that to the Red Cross book Sale. It is mediocre at best and the recipes are chock full of MSG. I would recomend The Key To Chinese Cooking by Irene Kuo, she used to teach at the China Institute in NYC, Almost any cook book by Eileen Yin Fei Lo (except her low fat book- it was not low fat, just low to no food) and Classic Chinese Cooking by Mai Leung. If you can lay your hands on a copy of Joie Warner's Chinatown Cookobook there is one of the best Lemon Chicken recipes I have ever had in it and incorporates fermented black beans into the dish. And, of course books by the late Ken Hom.

      1. re: Candy

        I second the recommendation of Kuo's The Key to Chinese Cooking. I'm not sure if it's still in print, but even if it's not it's worth a little digging to find it.

        1. re: Candy

          I suspect you might be thinking of Ken Lo - when you say the "late". Ken Hom is still quite alive and living in France. By the way, Irene Kuo's book is one of his favorites.

          1. re: Gordon Wing

            You are right. I got addled there for a moment. My only complaint about The Key to Chinese Cooking outside of it being out of print is the publisher did a cheap glue job oon the binding and it comes apart. I am on a second copy and may have to resort to putting a big rubberband around the book.

            1. re: Candy

              I remember my dad's had a rubber band around it! I also remember enjoying looking through his copy of "How to Cook and Eat in Chinese," which IIRC had some kind of backstory that it was attributed to a woman but actually dictated to her by her husband. Very detailed on techniques.

            2. re: Gordon Wing

              Speaking of Ken Hom (alive, thank goodness!), he has a great cookbook that cannot be called "Chinese" - it's "East Meets West" and contains recipes mixing various types of cooking with Asian...for example, one thing I make all the time is a chicken wing recipe mixing Mexican and Asian - it's very soupy and sloppy to eat but fantastic. Sort of a casserole. I'll copy it here if anybody is interested.

              Don't know if this book is still available - I bought it at least 10 years ago.

              Btw, I agree that Craig and Virginia's book is lame....I traded it for scrip from a local used bookstore.

        2. The best Chinese cookbook we've found is "The Complete Book of Oriental Cooking" by Myra Waldo. We've made many of the recipes over the years (all were terrific), but the Velvet Chicken on Page 132 is our favorite.

          1. For authentic Chinese cooking, I use and highly recommend the bilingual (English and Chinese) cookbooks published by the Wei-Chuan cooking school in Taiwan. These are the books that my mom used as a young wife and mother in Taiwan (albeit in earlier editions, since that was a long time ago -- sorry mom! ;- ) ).

            Two titles, _Chinese Cuisine_ and _Chinese Snacks_, are my two workhorses that I use all the time, and they do contain Cantonese and Shanghainese as well as other regional dishes.

            However, the Wei-Chuan series also includes _Chinese Cuisine: Cantonese Style_ and _Chinese Cuisine: Shanghai Style_, which you might want to check out because of your specific interests.

            In the Wei-Chuan cookbooks, every dish has a glossy color photo, and many have step-by-step photos of special techniques.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Browniebaker

              Hello, BB, we've been missing your mooncake eating exploits!

              I agree with you on the Wei Chuan series. I can't personally attest to their usefulness in cooking, but the photos are some of the best posed food porn out there. If nothing else, the pictures will motivate you!


              1. re: Gary Soup


                Great to hear from you personally! I've been lurking on the message boards of your super website and enjoying it lots.

                Whenever I see the mooncake thread ("Do you actually eat them?") you started on another website, I think of you and wonder whether you've bought any mooncakes this season. Mine are tempting me from the fridge daily, and I almost broke in and ate a piece, but the thought of explaining to my family keeps me honest.

                My best wishes to you,


              2. re: Browniebaker

                Second this. My mom uses this series too and I learned to cook chinese food from it.

                1. re: Browniebaker

                  I *love* the "Chinese Snacks" cookbook! It's one of my favorites and I use it all the time. "Chinese Cuisine" is a good one too, but for many of the other Wei Chuan cookbooks, I feel they're not really authentic, but rather a Taiwanese take on those cuisines.

                  1. re: PekoePeony

                    Oh, I agree that some of the books are Taiwanese takes on foreign cuisines. I wouldn't dream of using the Wei-chuan cookbooks on Korean, Japanese, Thai, and Mexican cooking!

                2. Well, two cookbooks I really like are Eight Immoral Favors by Johnny Kan (old style Cantonese like we had thirty years ago. a lot of the dish in this book has been discussed on the Bay Area Board as to where we can get it now, but sadly it is not). The Time Life Chinese cookbook for the lovely pictures of the food, the recipes are good but the pictures are great for us cooks for display our dishes for our guest. The cooking teacher who develop the recipes is Florence Lin who wrote a few books under her own name which has a lot better recipes but not great pictures. But both books are out of print but still available on the net.

                  I also like Grace Young's first cookbook where she discuss dishes from her Mother and GrandMother real comfort food. Lastly I like to read a Chinese Cookbook Every Grain of Rice (the name of author is not coming ot my mind) the stories are just wonderful and takes me back to the good old days. I sorry to say I do not remember the recipes as I never get pass the stories.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: yimster

                    I agree with all your choices -- they bring back memories of my dad's cooking. Ellen Blonder is the co-author of Every Grain. She also authored Dim Sum, both are filled with memory-evoking stories and recipes.

                    1. re: Sarah

                      Thanks for remembering Ellen Blonder name. We have over two hundred cookbooks so it would have been a while before I will find it or I would have check Amazon.

                  2. The "Hong Kong & China Gas Chinese Cookbook" is very good.