Tuesday, August 30, 2016

All Under Heaven by Carolyn Phillips

I was 12% into this book when I knew I wanted a copy for myself. I was 20% into it when I realized I needed to preorder multiple copies for everyone I know who cooks Chinese food.

I've got several Chinese cookbooks and had sworn off ever buying any more. My favorite, The Key to Chinese Cooking by Irene Kuo, never lets me down and has a lot of variety packed into it.

However, All Under Heaven was written with the same sort of clear instructions and approachable style. Additionally, it looked at the usual Chinese regional cuisine divisions (Sichuan, Hunan, Cantonese, etc.) more closely than I'd ever seen.

This means than you don't just read about Cantonese or Southern Chinese cooking, but also get to try typical Hakka dishes or try that of Taiwan's military families who came from different provinces and then gave everything a big stir to create their own distinctive cuisine. Some of the dishes sound like a familiar twist on our favorites like Silk Road Fajitas, until you realize that this is a traditional Northwestern Chinese dish. Some have a technique that I can't wait to try, like Shaved Noodles with Meat Sauce where you use an ultra-sharp knife to shave noodles off a block of pasta dough.

I loved Carolyn Phillips' writing, especially the accessible headnotes to each recipe. Her explanation of the different regions was always personalized at the end so that we got to share a little of her life in China too.

This book was provided in a terrible Kindle version by NetGalley. I assume the garbling of the recipes is because of NetGalley's conversion. My review is my own.

No comments: