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Oct 4, 2006 01:25 PM

What do you think is the best Chinese Cookbook?

I'm looking for a great traditional chinese cookbook. I'd love suggestions.

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  1. Irene Kuo's "Key to Chinese Cooking" (ISBN: 0394496388) is probably still the best introduction. It is available used, and I believe that it has been re-issued.

    This is a Cantonese "view" of Chinese cuisine, so you may want to explore other books later. On the other hand, if you want to cook really good Chinese food at home this is a great place to start.


    1 Reply
    1. re: Big Bunny

      I second the Kuo book, but be prepared, Knopf did a lousy job wth binding and the book is just glued together and tends to fall apart.

      Another excellent book is Fuchsia Dunlop's Lan of Plenty a Sichuan book and then Elileen Yin Fei Lo has published a number of good books as has Mei Lung

    2. Hard to go wrong with the following:

      Occidental Tourist. A little fusion-y, but great

      Barbara Tropp's New Chinese. Very good - encyclopedic, really. Avoid her China Moon cookbook at all costs.
      New Classic Chinese Cookbook by Mai Leung. Good, if a little heavy on frying.
      Ken Hom's BBC book is very good. Straightforward cuisine.
      Of all people, Craig Claiborne did a great Chinese cookbook a while back. Foolproof recipes.
      Hot Breath of a Wok is a better in idea than in execution.


      4 Replies
      1. re: Westy

        I disagree about the Craig Claiborne book. He did it with a Chinese woman chef and I finally gave it away after years of watching it gather dust on the shelf. There may be good recipes in this book, but I didn't find any of them.

        I agree about Ken Hom. Really good East Meets West (first fusion cookbook? - published years ago).

        I have Barbara Tropp's China Moon Cookbook which is very good once you get past making all the flavored oils and spice mixes she calls for.

        I have some others that are pretty good, Bruce Cost has a good book with recipes and spice/herb descriptions.

        1. re: Westy

          I chuckled at your reference to China Moon. I attended a cooking class that Barbara gave around the time the book came out, and acquired the autographed copy. So, back at home, I made the chili-orange oil and all the other spices and flavorings and set out to cook some of the recipes. My husband pronounced the food tasteless! It seemed to us that the recipes contained so many flavorings that they canceled each other out. I think some of those flavorings, like the chili-orange oil, would be good additives on their own, but I'm afraid the book has been collecting dust ever since.

          Sarah C

          1. re: Westy

            This cookbook New Chinese by Barbara Tropp, I am quite curious to know where you found this book. I've recently looked her up on wikipedia and according to them she only wrote Modern Art of Chinese Cooking and China Moon Cookbook. I find her dedication to make Chinese food with the approach of a perfectionist while pushing the envelope on uniqueness is just fantastic. Do you know where I might find this cookbook that you've mentioned?

          2. I have "The Food of China", and I'm very happy with that book.


            1. I agree with Westy about Breath of a Wok-- I like it for history and technique. It helped me get my flat-bottomed carbon/steel wok into good working order, but the recipes have been a little disappointing. It should be used in tandem with another cookbook.

              1. Wasn't there a long thread on this subject not very long ago?

                1 Reply