cover image The Mission Chinese Food Cookbook

The Mission Chinese Food Cookbook

Danny Bowien and Chris Ying. Ecco, $34.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-06-224341-6

The recipes in this irreverent chronicle are enriched by a very personal story. “I look at this cookbook as a document of a specific time and set of experiences: the early years of Mission Chinese food, the end of my 20s, growing up as a chef,” Bowien writes. With childhood photos, interviews with mentors such as Anthony Bourdain, and a chronology that charts the ups and downs of Bowien’s cooking career, the book offers rare insight into the making of a young American chef. Bowien’s undying love for Chinese food—“What I ate when I had no money”—finds expression in his profane interpretations of the classics, a melding of tastes and cultures that is truly American. The recipes are “Chinese by way of Oklahoma, San Francisco, and New York.” The dishes are big and bold, with no regard for culinary boundaries whatsoever. An Oklahoma-inspired smoked beef brisket with smoked cola BBQ sauce sits alongside a recipe for crunchy tea-smoked eel rolls (a burrito-like snack nicknamed “the Chinito” by Bourdain), which pales in comparison to the incredibly over-the-top Beggar’s Duck, a sticky rice–stuffed whole duck that’s baked in potter’s clay, cracked open at the table, and lacquered with sauce. Bowien advises, “If you’re going to invite people over for a meal, really have them over. Be generous, be ridiculous.” Fortunately for readers, he wrote his cookbook in the same spirit. (Nov.)