The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen:
Classic Family Recipes for Celebration and Healing
IACP Le Cordon Bleu International Cookbook Award
Finalist IACP First Cookbook Award
Finalist James Beard International Cookbook Award
“A cookbook of family secrets that the Kitchen God’s Wife would have been proud to write for her daughter.”
–Amy Tan The Joy Luck Club
“But even if you don’t eat one dish from this book, you’ll feel satisfied. The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen, like Diana Kennedy’s My Mexico and works by M.F. K. Fisher, is as much about a way of life as it is about cooking. That this way of life exists with such astounding vitality next door makes this book all the more valuable.”
–Patricia Unterman, San Francisco Examiner Magazine
A delicious celebration of 150 recipes for classic Cantonese family meals with warm stories of their importance to health and prosperity and detailed instructions on their preparation culled from a lifetime of lessons at the sides of Mama, Baba, grandparents, aunties, uncles, and close family friends. No other Chinese cookbook offers such a wealth of information on obtaining ingredients and their preparation, or provides such full detail behind the Chinese tradition of using foods to nourish the body and soul. The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen is a treasure, sure to become a classic reference in any well-equipped kitchen.
The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen is the culmination of 4 years of painstaking research into my Cantonese culinary heritage. In heeding my Grandfather’s advice to never forget my Chinese heritage, I hope to have honored my ancestors and family with a cookbook of our recipes and culinary lore.
Each chapter begins with its own engaging story, offering insight into the Chinese beliefs that surround life-enhancing and spiritually calming meals. In addition, my family’s vintage photographs illustrate the stories and capture the spirit of China before the Revolution.
The first part, “Mastering the Fundamentals,” provides instruction on the arts of steaming and stir-frying; the preparation of rice, panfried, and braised dishes; the proper selection of produce; and the fine art of chopping and slicing. Part Two, “The Art of Celebration,” concentrates on the more elaborate, complex and meaningful dishes—such as Shark’s Fin Soup and West Lake Duck—that are usually made with rare ingredients, and sweets such as Water Chestnut Cake and Sesame Balls. The final part, “Achieving Yin-Yang Harmony,” explores the many Chinese beliefs about the healing properties of ginseng, gingko nuts, soybeans, dong quai, and the many vegetable and fruit soup preparations that balance and nourish the body. The stories and recipes combine to demonstrate the range of Cantonese cooking from the rich flavors and honored combinations to an overall appreciation of health, well being and prosperity.
The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen extends even further to include how to care for a wok, the importance of buying, cooking, and eating rice, and how to best find the proper Chinese ingredients. Understanding how perplexing it can be to shop for authentic Chinese ingredients, I provide guidance on how to find anything. Beautifully detailed full-color photographs show finished dishes, produce, herbs, and dry ingredients which assuage all doubt as to how to cook my recipes. Nevertheless, I have also included special step by step technique photos.
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