Food almost always tastes better made from scratch, although fortunately
the process isn't quite as complicated as Dr. Sagan's description! In any
event, whether you have a culinary gourmand on your gift list, or a novice
interested in picking up some basic Chinese cooking techniques, it's never
too early to begin Christmas shopping. Here are
some gift suggestions:
For the Novice
Helen Chen's Chinese Home Cooking
Helen Chen is the daughter of Joyce Chen, a Boston restaurant owner who
introduced "Peking Ravioli" to the United States and introduced her
own line of cookware products. Chen's book, filled with easy to prepare recipes,
as well as tips on meal planning, serving, and using Chinese ingredients,
is a tribute to her mother. It's an excellent first book for any cook interested
in learning how to cook Chinese food. (One of our forum posters especially liked
the recipe for Sweet and Sour Pork, Northern style.)
For the Connoisseur
Kitchen: Recipes, Techniques, Ingredients, History, and Memories from
America's Leading Authority on Chinese Cooking
by Eileen Yin-Fei Lo
Is there someone on your gift list who would love to know how to make authentic
Moo Goo Gai Pan, or prepare Lion's Head Meatballs the way it was meant to be
made ( in a claypot with bok choy representing the lion's mane)?
This book is designed with them in mind. There are over 250 recipes in total;
besides classic dishes representing different Chinese regional schools of
cooking, the author has included several of her own recipes for the stocks and
seasonings that are so important in Chinese cooking.
In addition to the recipes (which actually don't begin until page 68), Yin-Fei
Lo illustrates the important role food plays in Chinese daily life by sharing
her experiences growing up with her grandmother, who taught Yin-Fei Lo to cook.
The book is both entertaining to read and a great resource.
For the Calorie
Smart Chinese Cooking
by Stephen Wong
Watchers Stir Fry to Szechuan
Weight Watchers International
I have two gift ideas for the person who is counting calories or on a
restricted diet. The first is Stephen Wong's Heart Smart Chinese Cooking. An
addition to the Heart and Stroke Foundation's Heart Smart Library, this book has
a wide variety of recipes, each complete with a nutritional breakdown. (See my
My second recommendation is Stir Fry to Szechuan, published by Weight
Watchers. This book contains one-hundred low-fat variations of classics such as
Szechuan Chicken and Tangerine Beef, as well as quick and easy dishes like
Crispy Beef with Water Chestnuts. Compatible with the Weight Watchers program,
the recipes are designed to be easy to prepare, and, like Heart Smart Chinese
Cooking, each contains a complete nutritional breakdown.
For the dedicated Chinese cook
Thousand Recipe Chinese Cookbook
by Gloria Bley Miller
Do you know someone who prepares Chinese meals almost every night?
They'll find inspiration in The Thousand Recipe Chinese Cookbook by
Gloria Bley Miller. A professional writer, Miller has hundreds of recipes for
everything from stir-fry sauces to preserved eggs, along with chapters on
preparing, storing, and substituting ingredients. What I love most about this
book is that Miller starts with a skeleton recipe and then provides several
variations. For example, she has a basic recipe for paper-wrapped chicken made
with soy sauce and sherry, plus several more complex variations. This book would
make an excellent gift for anyone who cooks Chinese food on a regular basis.