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Jan 18, 2006 10:43 PM

china moon cookbook

  • j

What are your favorite recipes from this?!!?

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  1. 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.

    7 Replies
    1. re: oakjoan

      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.

      1. re: Candy

        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.

        1. re: KathyR

          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?

          1. re: oakjoan

            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

            1. 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.

              1. re: Nancy Berry

                Thanks for sharing this Nancy. It sounds awesome!

            2. re: KathyR

              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.

        2. Strange Flavored Eggplant. It was the only reason I bought the book.

          1. 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
            Peanut-Lime Noodles
            Wild Rice Salad with Ginger-Balsamic Dressing
            Gold Coin Corn Cakes

            Fresh Ginger Ice Cream served with Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce and Cappucino Coin Cookies

            1. 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.

              3 Replies
              1. re: torty

                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.

                1. re: lunaharvest

                  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?


                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    Thank you! This was a great share. I re-bought the book about a month ago and love it.

              2. 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.