My Grandmother's Chinese Kitchen: 100 Family Recipes and Life Lessons

Eileen Yin-Fei Lo, Author, San Yan Wong, Illustrator
Eileen Yin-Fei Lo, Author, San Yan Wong, Illustrator HP Books $25.95 (275p) ISBN 978-1-55788-505-0
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The most enchanting parts of this cookbook are the author's atmospheric essays about learning to cook at her grandmother's stoves as a child in Canton Province, bringing the rituals of pre-revolutionary China to life. Alongside elegant descriptions of her grandmother's bound feet and fields of rice, vegetables and mulberries-the latter of which she grew to feed silkworms-is a treasure trove of family recipes. Lo (The Chinese Kitchen) includes familiar Cantonese favorites like Won Ton, a time-consuming dish that's worth the work, and more obscure choices like Romaine Lettuce with Black Beans, a true winner that's mixed with a garlicky, peppery sauce that won't drown out the freshness of the produce. Other noteworthy dishes include crackling Guangfu Chicken, included in feasts ""celebrating a child's first month since birth,"" and Salted Pork with Silken Bean Curd, a traditional New Year's dish. Also included are a number of recipes for steamed buns, soups and congee, as well as a helpful chapter of ingredient notes. Though beautifully designed with old photos of Lo's family, the volume does not include any photographs of the dishes, a challenge for home cooks who aren't sure what, say, Steamed Whole Wintermelon Soup should look like after an hour or more of cooking. But that's a small objection against what is, on the whole, a cookbook worth holding on to, and even passing down.
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