The Chinese Takeout Cookbook

Diana Kuan. Ballantine, $30 (208p) ISBN 978-0-345-52912-1
Kuan is a New York food blogger who has lived in Beijing as well as Puerto Rico, where her family ran a Latin-flavored Chinese restaurant. But for this, her first collection, she sticks to the classics of mainland American-Chinese cuisine. So there is both General Tso’s chicken and chop suey among the 100 well-known favorites, as well as moo shu pork, barbecued spareribs, and three types of fried rice. Although making the dough for her scallion pancakes seem like a lot of effort, the majority of recipes are simple stir fry affairs that use a wok or frying pan and utilize the same basic handful of ingredients such as soy sauce, oyster sauce, ginger, and garlic, so it is relatively easy to create a multidish meal. Kuan helps the cook along by offering a dozen menu ideas with themes such as 1970s takeout, Chinese New Year, and Sichuan supper. She also provides brief, inviting histories on the Americanization of many of the dishes. The real question, of course, is whether those who like Chinese takeout have the desire to cook, and do those who cook Chinese need new recipes for beef with broccoli and egg foo young? Had Kuan included a fortune cookie recipe, rather than just a short history of its Japanese origins, the answer might have been made available. Ballantine is betting it already knows how the cookie will crumble. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 11/19/2012
Release date: 12/11/2012
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 189 pages - 978-0-345-52912-1
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