china moon cookbook
This is my all time favorite and most used cookbook . My original copy was a paperback and its now in pieces. This is the Chinese food my children grew up eating, her recipes and my ones I've conceived using her "pantry items" . There are very few recipes I haven't tried but the ones my family and guests clamor for most are Chicken and bacon fried rice, Gold coin corn cakes , Wok seared tuna, dragon noodles, many mushroom buns and brined pork loin with pasilla pepper sauce. When my children left home both took bottles of Mala and Orange chili oil along with roasted Szechwan pepper salt. It's not a quicky cookbook but if you have the time and ingredients to make the pantry and cook the recipes then you will be rewarded with incredible meals that just may ruin you when it comes to eating Chinese food out side the home. Pictured below an assortment of her pickles and a bowl of Hot and sour chicken sandpot with Mandarin bread twists
I don't think it's Chinese particularly, but it's simple and very good. The other cookie recipes in the book look promising too.
Sesame Brown Sugar Shortbread -- paraphrased here
1 stick (1/4 pound) cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon untoasted blond sesame seeds
cut the butter into 8 pieces, cream with sugar until smooth. Add flour, mix well. Make a ball of the dough, roll it out 'til 1/4 inch thick--you want a rectangle about 11 by 9 inches. Then brush a little water over the dough with a pastry brush and sprinkle all the seeds over it. (I press them in a little with the back of a dry tablespoon.) Chill the dough about 1 hour in refrigerator. Cut (sharp knife!) into rectangles 1 inch by 1 1/2 inch, place 1/2 inch apart on parchment paper lined baking sheet. Then bake at 350F, middle rack of oven, for 15 - 17 minutes.
I'm glad this old thread popped up today.
I had the good fortune to dine at China Moon twenty years ago. The Thomas-Hill hearings were going on at the time, and when I couldn't seem to turn off the TV, I decided to leave my hotel room and go for a walk. ChinaMoonBistro was just across the street, so I wandered in and had a memorable lunch, transporting me far from that depressing current event. I ordered too much food, but it was spectacular.
Of course, when I saw the cookbook sometime later, I had to have it. I made a few things and, like so many others here, I decided it was too unrealistic to make all the necessary oils and sauces before tackling a recipe and put the book aside. But oakjoan's post reminded me that I had loved the chile orange oil and cold noodle dish made w/this oil (one of the dishes I had at that long ago lunch), and they weren't particularly difficult. So I took out the book this morning, and after flipping through it, have decided I'm going to revisit some of the recipes. I'm going to use the eggplant languishing in my fridge to make the Strange Flavored Eggplant. And then I'm going to make a batch of chile-orange oil.
Love these Chowhound-fueled bursts of inspiration!
I discovered the CM Cookbook in the early 90s and had the great pleasure of eating there once. Have made Strange-Flavored Eggplant many times, and Roasted Pepper-Salt is something my family refuses to live without. We sprinkle it on popcorn and when we run out, loud protests are heard! I do sympathize with those who find the prep items, such as the oils, too complicated to make and keep around. I use many of the recipes as guidelines--such as how she makes Jewish chicken soup much more delightful by adding lemongrass and ginger. Unfortunately I don't have time to make the oils, etc, and so have to improvise or leave out, but the one time I made orange-chili oil, it was out of this world. Such a brilliant and creative cook, and I was very sad to hear she had passed away. I think of her and thank her often.
I use the book mostly for inspiration. When I got it I had no access to Szechuan peppercorns so I just improvised on the oils. The pickled ginger was good but with access to it everywhere I have not taken the time again. I have made the orange pickled carrot coins on a regular basis per guest request as well as the Mandarin Breadtwists. Oddly the only recipe I probably followed to the letter was the lemon ice cream- this was a long time ago and I can still remember the taste- really good and it was my first attempt at ice cream.
Believe it or not I actually had the pleasure of being a one day a week line cook at China Moon in 1990. I have tremendous respect for the food that was created in that lovely cafe. And the China Moon Cafe Cookbook was quite accurate in relicating the cafe dishes. I too love the ginger ice cream with dark chocolate sauce and the carrot coins.
I have left all my cookbooks in California while taking care of my elderly mother and soooo miss the carrot coin recipe and the five spice sping roll (chicken and peanuts included if I recall). I have searched around the net to try and find a version there of to no avail. I would be grateful should anyone have time and inclination to share either or both of these recipes here.
And yes Barbara passed away from a long waged battle with cancer in the late 90's. She was a truely unique culinary talent and a wondeful mentor to many women chefs in the bay area.
LunaHarvest, thank you for bringing this thread up--I missed it before. China Moon was one of my favorite little spots back in the day, long before I was a Chowhound or even knew what a Chowhound was and most definitely before I ever dreamed I could re-create any of her dishes in my own kitchen. I saw a used copy of China Moon Cookbook recently and snapped it up instantly, though I haven't yet tried to cook anything from it. These carrot coins sound delicious--and I have a boat load of carrots from my CSA to use up, so I think I'll start with that! I would love to know some of your other favorites.
Orange-Pickled Carrot Coins (paraphrased)
Makes 2 1/2 cups
1 lb carrots, trimmed & peeled. Cut on a slight diagonal; 1/16th inch thick
2 tsp fresh ginger, in a fine julienne
1 serrano chili (red or green) OR 1 small yellow wax chili sliced into ultra thin rings OR 1/2 to 3/4 tsp dried red chili flakes
3/4 cup unseasoned Japanese rice vinegar
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
2 1/2 tsp salt (kosher)
1 small orange, scrubbed
Pour boiling water over carrots; enough to cover them. Let sit for 1 minute, stirring occasionally to separate slices. Drain then quickly plunge carrots into icy water until chilled. Drain.
Combine ginger, chili, vinegars, sugar and salt in a saucepan (non-aluminum). Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring so that salt and sugar dissolve. Stir in carrots, making sure they are sufficiently pushed down into the brine. Remove from heat.
Grate the zest from the orange (avoid the white pith) into the pan, using the small flat holes of a 4-sided grater. Stir and taste and adjust as necessary.
Transfer to a storage container. Let sit (uncovered) at room temp until cool.
Seal and refrigerate overnight. Serve cool or at room temp (and this is a direct quote because it's hilarious) "pinching the carrot coins into a jaunty-looking mound" (who ever thought carrots could be jaunty-looking?!). Top with several strands of pickled ginger and a ring or two of pickled chili.
Regarding the spring roll recipe (and it's 10 spice, not 5, if I've zero'd in on the right recipe), it's quite long, 3 1/2 pages and refers to you at least 4 other sub-recipes in the book. Would you kindly please drop me a note to the email address in my profile so I can ask you a question about it?
As the other posters attest, you either "get" Barbara Tropp or you don't. To appreciate her, you have to do the shopping, make the infused oils and the stocks, learn the methods, and read all the notes about technique. It takes time and a huge pantry, but if you do it, it will pay off with some of the best food you've ever eaten... And your own house will smell like the China Moon Bistro while you're at it.
My Personal Favorites from The China Moon Cookbook:
Cold Chicken Salad with Toasted Coconut, Peanuts and Crispy Rice Sticks
Cold Poached Salmon Tiles with Ginger-Black Bean Vinaigrette
Wok-Seared Tuna ( This one is easy!)
Stir-fried Shrimp with Lemon and Almonds
Spicy Orange Scallops with Fresh Rice Noodles
Gold Coin Crab Cakes
Stir-Fried Spicy Beef wiht Summer Tomatoes and Purple Basil
Spicy Beef Salad with Crispy Rice Sticks and Fried Peanuts
Cold Tomato Noodles
Wild Rice Salad with Ginger-Balsamic Dressing
Gold Coin Corn Cakes
AND MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE DESSERT EVER:
Fresh Ginger Ice Cream served with Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce and Cappucino Coin Cookies
When I first bought this cookbook, I made lots of the flavored oils, etc. she requires for her recipes. Some were really good and others I screwed up in some way (heated oil too much or not enough - over or under flavored).
I don't have China Moon Cookbook anymore. It got lost in some move or other. I remember there were some great noodle dishes. This was at least 10 years ago.
I had China Moon and another by Tropp and donated both to a fund raising book sale. I dislike having to make several other recipes to make the one that I want to make and while many of her dishes were god, I found myself turning to some of my other Chinese cookbooks more often. That is one of the reasons I rarely use the Bayless Mexico One Plate at a time. You have to make his essential sauces to make the recipe.
I am usually loathe to give up a cookbook, but I was not unhappy to offload China Moon. Having to make several different sauces, oils, and sludges before making a recipe that called for a teaspoon of each said preparation is silly. It would be fine if one is cooking frequently from that one cookbook, but most people are not, so I found her approach extremely unrealistic and I just got mad at the book instead of having a desire to use it.
It's funny, I made several of the oils she uses in her recipes and, after using them a couple of times, they sat on the shelf for at least a year until I tossed them out. When I first bought the book I was totally into the pre-prep. That lasted about a month.
Sad to say, though, Barbara Tropp died of cancer a year or so ago. There was one flavored oil, with orange peel and chiles that was really great and I'd love to get the recipe again. Jeff? Are you up for posting it?
Here's the recipe:
Chile Orange Oil "China Moon"
3 large Oranges w/unblemished skins
1/2 cup Chile Flakes, dried red
3 tablespoons Fermented Black Beans, coarsely chopped, DON'T RINSE
1 large Garlic clove (to 2) peeled and lightly smashed
2 cups Oil, Corn or Peanut
1/4 cup Sesame Oil, Japanese (I use Kadoya)
Choose oranges with unblemished skins that have been kept as free as possible of waxes and dyes, then wash them carefully with light liquid detergent, warm water and an abrasive sponge. The effort may seem kooky, but it makes a difference. So too will a sharp vegetable peeler that will pare off the flavorful skin (zest) and not the bitter white pith.
Wash the oranges as described above. Peel away the thin layer of orange zest (leaving behind the white pith) and finely mince it.
Combine the minced zest with all of the remaining ingredients in a heavy, non aluminum 2 to 2 1/2 quart saucepan. Rest a deep-fry thermometer on the rim of the pot. Over moderately low heat, bring the mixture to a bubbly 225 degrees to 250 degrees, stirring occasionally. Let bubble for 15 minutes, checking to ensure the temperature does not rise. Remove from the heat and let stand until cool or overnight.
Scrape the oil and seasonings (we call these the "goop") into an impeccably clean glass or plastic container. Store at cool room temperature.
Be creative with the "goop" made from the seasonings as well as the oil. A spoonful into noodles or meat loaf is a tasty revelation.
__China Moon__ by Barbara Tropp
re: Nancy Berry
Is there any traditional cuisine that eats a lot of oil-boiled citrus peel? Sounds delicious, but I wonder whether it is prudent to eat much of it. Orange peels contain a number of potent compounds and I wonder how they (and any residue from chemical treatments) fare after being boiled in oil for 15 minutes.
When I bought the book, I had a little more leisure in my life and made a lot of the oils, etc. They were fabulous, and the recipes came out stunning. These days I use Asian grocery equivalents (sushi ginger, chile oil and the like), and get very good results. I particularly like her noodle and fish dishes.
I've never tired of this cookbook, although I don't grab it that frequently now that I have a baby and cook in 20-min increments.
However, two of the blended sauces she makes for the tuna and salmon dishes, one with roasted red peppers and the other with black beans, are now a regular part of my repertoir, very easy to prepare and they dress up a simple piece of grilled fish beautifully.