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Chinese Cookbook Recommendation

I am looking for a great Chinese (if we may use that term) cookbook, and perferably one that emphasizes Szechuan and the spicier dishes of China. Any ideas?

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  1. Without a doubt, you are looking for Fuschia Dunlop's books: Land of Plenty (Sichuan) and The Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook (Hunan). These were Chowhound Cookbooks of the Month in March 2008, and extremely popular. You can read in much detail what people thought about them and reports on cooking from them here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/494660

    21 Replies
    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

      Caitlin is right as usual on this one, these are wonderful books - the recipes are easily executed and the food produced from them delicious and totally authentic. I can't think of any others specific to these Chinese cuisines to recommend more highly.

      1. re: buttertart

        Do you have any recommendations for Chinese cookbooks that don't specifically focus on regions known for spicier dishes?

        1. re: MichaelBeyer

          Absolutely.
          The Key to Chinese Cooking - Irene Kuo (out of print but widely available used, check ABEbooks etc)
          Classic Chinese Cooking - Nina Simonds (may be ditto)
          Wei-Chuan Chinese Cooking and Chinese Cooking II, and Chinese Snacks (Wei-Chuan is a major food company in Taiwan)
          Any of these would provide a very good starting point.
          Do not be seduced by Eileen Yin-Fei Lo's Mastering the Art of Chinese Cooking, it is a beautiful book but should never have been so titled.

            1. re: MichaelBeyer

              Any time, all in a good cause! Re my disappointment with the Lo book:
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6624...

            2. re: buttertart

              Any specific dishes you reccommnd from "Classic Chinese Cooking"? I finally got a hold of a copy, but can't seem to decide what dishes to try first.

                1. re: buttertart

                  If you have a chance I'd take any recc's from you most seriously. My "every day" Chinese repetoire has been in a rut lately, so i'm trying to hit the books and find some new inspiration.

                  1. re: qianning

                    I know the feeling. Are you using the Dunlops? (Sorry if you've posted on doing so...) They are terrific.

                    1. re: buttertart

                      I do use the Dunlops & agree they are fantastic. Also use a bunch of different Wei Chuan books.

                      1. re: qianning

                        I remember discussing Wei-Chuan with you.

                        1. re: buttertart

                          Lots of my standby/every day dishes come from those books, especially the more east/southeast styles of home dishes.

                          Unfortuantely I am the type who will go back to the same dishes over and over, unless I make an effort to look at a new book or source, even if I end up going back to books I already own to actually cook, somehow I see things that i'd missed before.

                          1. re: qianning

                            I "caught" my husband with the W-C Shanghai book, not sure what he was looking for!

                            1. re: buttertart

                              Did you dare ask?

                              Mr. QN pleaded for pork & watercress soup last week, I thought he was crazy (maybe I had too much weak pork bone soup at the girls cafeteria at Tunghai), but gave in and made it, totally yummy, why had I ignored that dish for so long?

                              1. re: qianning

                                Noticed it late last night and we were too distracted by a certain news story (I was working close to the WTC on 9/11 and had worked on the 99th floor previously). I'll find out tonight. He was probably looking for something for me to make for his birthday tomorrow.

                                1. re: buttertart

                                  Can certainly see how your attention was diverted.

        2. re: Caitlin McGrath

          I discovered Fuschia only recently, through her memoir, and tried her gung bao chicken recipe last night.

          Oh man.

          I'm so hooked I don't have the words.

          1. re: Aravisea

            The great thing about the recipes is that they are simple to execute and produce food that has the real, right taste.

            1. re: buttertart

              I found the COTM threads on her cookbooks from a few years ago and am working my way through those. The verdict from the man of the house last night was "WIN." And this was my first time trying any kind of full-on Chinese recipe, second time using a wok ever. I was amazed at how easy it was.

              1. re: Aravisea

                Exactly, these books are works of genius. I'm happy you're enjoying them!

              2. re: buttertart

                True. I just wish there were more of them--more recipes, more books.

          2. The original comment has been removed
            1. I really like Ken Hom's books. The only Martin Yan book I have liked is his Chinatown book.
              The ones i use most often:
              1. Barbara Tropp - Modern Art of Chinese Cooking
              2. Blue-Eyed Dragon - Australian book. Like a high-class place in Taipei. Amazing.
              3. Bear and Fish Family cookbook. Great, updated Chinese. Beautiful photographs as well.
              4. Shun Lee: Now you too can make the best Chinese Takeout meals. That is a compliment.
              5. Grace Leung New Classic Chinese

              5 Replies
              1. re: Westy

                Blue-Eyed Dragon is a beautiful book, but I didn't find the recipes to be very engaging.

                Like the look of that Bear and Fish Family book a lot...

                And I just rebought the Tropp.

                1. re: buttertart

                  It is not a warm and fluffy book, but Ble Eye Dragon is excellent in terms of useability.

                  Leung's book has some awesome recipes. The roast duck is great and so is "Starlight Shrimp." The shrimp dish gets rave reviews every time I make it.

                  1. re: Westy

                    I'll have a look at the Leung book too, always on the lookout for good Chinese cookbooks. Thanks.

                    Is it Mai Leung and not Grace? Can't find a Grace Leung book.

                    1. re: buttertart

                      I type corrected: Mai Leung is correct.

                      1. re: Westy

                        I got that one too, from AbeBooks. Thanks for pointing it out.