Complete Chinese Cookbook

Ken Hom. Firefly, $35 (352p) ISBN 978-155407-943-8

Encapsulating the vast world of Chinese cookery in a single volume is no easy feat, but this book from a veteran author (Ken Hom’s Chinese Cooking) and TV host (Great Food) provides a solid introduction in 250 recipes. Hom begins with a brief but useful overview, surveying the differences between the Cantonese, Peking, Eastern and Sichuan culinary traditions, along with their signature dishes and techniques. A glossary of ingredients covers the correct way to store and prepare bitter melon, the best applications for dried mushrooms and an easy recipe for homemade chili oil. Recipes cover a wide swath of regional specialties, including Hom’s own family favorites (Kidney and Beancurd Soup) and more contemporary Hong Kong dishes (Mango Shrimp). Hom manages to make seemingly complex flavor profiles more manageable with clear instruction, simplified technique and the occasional shortcut. While there are plenty of unusual selections (Stir-Fried Liver and Spicy Sauce; or Honeydew Pudding), restaurant classics such as broth-filled dumplings, hot and sour soup, beef in oyster sauce, and chicken fried Rice will please palates. Photos. (Oct.)