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Nov 12, 2008 10:47 PM

Chinese cookbooks?

Hello all, again:

I have been cooking a lot (lot lot lot!) of Thai food recently, and having a lot of luck with it. It's fun to cook, very fast from the fridge to the table, and it is, of course, delicious. I'm already thinking ahead to the next cuisine I want to tackle, though.

While I've already got a backlog of cookbooks to work through (I've also toyed with Bayless' Mexican Everyday a bit), I'm very interested in learning more about Chinese cuisine, specifically Cantonese and Sichuan.

I noticed that Fuchsia Dunlop's books have gotten generally good mentions: can anyone speak specifically to Land of Plenty? And what about Cantonese cooking?

Thanks in advance!

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  1. Dunlop's Land of Plenty (Sichuan) and Revolutionary Chinese (Hunan) were COTM's earlier this year. I personally loved them both; lovely photos, wonderful stories about the recipes, pretty good pantry/techniques section. It is a challenging cuisine, but I think Dunlop makes it pretty accessible to an ambitious beginner (like me) without dumbing it down. Lots and lots of posts about them here:


    1 Reply
    1. re: The Dairy Queen

      I agree with TDQ. You can't go wrong with Dunlop! For Cantonese cuisine my favorites are:

      "The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen: Classic Family Recipes for Celebration and Healing" by Grace Young. Simon and Schuster; NY, 1999.

      "Chinese Kitchen" by Eileen Yin-Fei Lo. William Morrow & Co; NY, 1999.

      And if you are feeling really adventurous and want to take a stab at Fujian cooking:

      "Cooking from China's Fujian Province: One of China's Eight Great Cuisines" by Jacqueline M. Newman. Hippocrene Books; NY, 2008.

    2. Another really wonderful Chinese cookbook is "Breath of a Wok" by Grace Young.
      Simple, luscious dishes which bring the indigenous foods of China right into our kitchens.

      1. I do like Grace Young's and Eileen Lo's cookbooks. Another cookbook that I really like is Irene Kuo's They Key to Chinese Cooking. It really discusses cooking techniques in depth, and is a lot more comprehensive than any of Young's or Lo's cookbooks. Personally, I think this is the best first Chinese Cantonese cookbook to have. There are some Szechuan recipes in it -- however, for that, I prefer Dunlop has these recipes are not very authentic and tend to be the Szechuan food you would receive at a Cantonese restaurant.

        1. Very nice, thanks a lot! I'll grab all that I can from the library and see how they are... then, well, Xmas is coming. :D

          1. how difficult are the recipes in these books? do they require a lot of special ingredients?

            I'm looking for a couple chinese cookbooks that teach the basics of chinese cooking, but don't require me to run out to the asian market if i want to cook out of them

            my hope is to build up a stock of standard ingredients, and primarily buy the perishables from the local market, my asian, soon-to-be bride, thanks you in advance for the recommendations

            2 Replies
            1. re: turkob

              I needed several trips to my local Asian market to acquire the ingredients I needed to cook from, yeah, they required a lot of "special" ingredients that you can't find at your standard grocery. But, yeah, if you built up a stock of standard spices, no problem.


              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                What Dairy Queen said. I had to buy several ingredients that would be used only for Chinese cooking, but I got so involved in the 2 Dunlop books (Hunan and Sichuan) that I didn't mind at all. Check out the month when the 2 Dunlop books were Cookbook of the Month. Lots of good tips and info about special ingredients.

                I'd check out the Dunlop books at my local library if I were you.