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Feb 6, 2013 10:02 AM

Is there an equivalent to Mastering the Art of French Cooking...

...for Chinese cooking? I am reading "Dearie" and thinking about this. Anything even close? If not, what's your favorite Chinese cookbook?

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  1. Not an equivalent, but try browsing the works of Kenneth H.C. Lo and even Martin Yan.

    1. I like "The Complete Chinese Cookbook" by Ken Hom.

      1. When my mom gifted me with my first wok (a nice carbon-steel job from a tiny little local Chinese grocery) back in 1974 (& it's still going strong!), she at the same time gifted me with "Madame Chu's Chinese Cooking School" by Grace Zia Chu. It's been my "go to" ever since & I HIGHLY recommend it for both beginners & experienced cooks. A terrific book. Many years afterwards I found a copy of her "The Pleasures of Chinese Cooking" - another little interesting tome, but not as helpful or informative as the former.

        Unfortunately, both books are out of print, but both can be found on any used book site (Amazon, abe books, etc., etc.) for more than reasonable prices.

        1. how about The thousand recipe chinese cookbook by gloria bley miller. it's been in print for 40 years -so something must be right in it!

          9 Replies
          1. re: rmarisco

            Yes! A terrific book. Eileen yin-fei lo is another comprehensive author. I used Barbara Tropp's Mastering the Art of Chinese Cooking for quite a while, but her vision of Chinese food with new, modern, Western ingredients may disqualify her as comprehensive (although delicious). And many chowhounds are devoted to the works of Fuchsia Dunlop.

            1. re: sr44

              Equating Barbara to Julia might quite apt. Both were trying to present the cuisine in a way that their American readers could use. Both were dealing with limits on what was available.

              By the way, BT's title is 'The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking, Techniques and Recipes', 1982.

              I started with Chang's Encyclopedia, the one with the yellow dust jacket (1970). That has many recipes, but is sparse when it comes to explaining techniques.

              1. re: paulj

                My bad. I didn't check the book itself. But it uses enough foreign ingredients in a comfortable way to get you started.

                Now that I think of it, Joyce Chen's cookbook got me started. There's not a lot of recipes, but they're good.

                1. re: sr44

                  Yes, I agree. I don't much care for Ms. Tropp's take on Chinese cooking. Too "fusion" for me. Julia Child was old-school traditional - she just managed to present things in a more clear, modern manner.

                  1. re: Bacardi1

                    One difficulty in comparing Child and Tropp is that American/English cooking already contained many of the same techniques and ingredients as French classic. e.g. Bechamel is just another name for white gravy or cream sauce. 'wok hei' on the other hand is virtually impossible to a achieve on an American stove.

                    1. re: paulj

                      "Wok hei" is just as difficult to explain to people who have not (or cannot) taste it.

                    2. re: Bacardi1


                      "Don't Buy Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking
                      You will never cook from it"

                      "Snobs like me may also be amazed that more than a few recipes suggest using frozen or canned vegetables and canned salmon, a nod to the era in which the book was written and edited, when farmers markets were not even gleams in the most forward-thinking cook's eyes...."


                  2. It's hard to find one book that's comprehensive enough to cover all aspects of Chinese cooking. There are many variations on dishes and cooking styles depending on region because China is a very large country, after all.

                    With that said, we've been cooking out of Fuchsia Dunlop's books a lot when we want to cook Chinese food. Her recipes are mainly focussed on Sichuan and Hunan cooking, so in a way it's like Mastering the Art of Sichuan/Hunan cooking. What I like about her books is that they try to stay as authentic as possible, but she also offers alternatives for the more esoteric ingredients that may be harder to procure outside of the region.

                    I highly recommend her latest: Every Grain of Rice. It's more home-style cooking, which I find easier for beginners since the recipes are not too complicated. Most things are basic dishes that I grew up eating, but no one really thought to write a recipe for, like tomato and eggs.


                    1 Reply
                    1. re: PandanExpress

                      Many of us have been cooking from Every Grain of Rice since last June. We love the book. Here's the reporting thread...