cover image Land of Fish and Rice: Recipes from the Culinary Heart of China

Land of Fish and Rice: Recipes from the Culinary Heart of China

Fuchsia Dunlop, photos by Yuki Sugiura. Norton, $35 (368p) ISBN 978-0-39325-438

Dunlop (Every Grain of Rice), a London-based food and travel journalist and the recipient of multiple James Beard Awards, continues her love affair with Chinese cooking in an exploration of the Jiangnan region. In this “culinary heart of China” along the lower Yangtze near Shanghai, abundant resources from fertile valleys and waters produce a “gentle way of life and glorious cuisine” and a refined “seductive harmony of tastes.” Dunlop selects 150 recipes from home and restaurant kitchens, street vendors, foragers, and farmers that feature traditional courses: appetizers, meat mains, poultry, eggs, seafood, tofu, and vegetables. Soups, rice, noodles, dumplings, along with snacks, sweet dishes, and drinks are included. There are foundation recipes for stocks and bun dough and tips for menu planning, pantry ingredients, tools, and techniques. While home cooks might find sourcing chrysanthemum leaves, lotus roots, or lily bulbs a challenge, the majority of dishes translate simply for the home cook. Her dishes will certainly impress: Tofu Ribbons, a comforting mushroom, pork, and wheat noodle dish; stir-fried sweet potato noodles; and the extravagant leaf and mud-wrapped Beggar’s Chicken entrée. Jiangnan flavors, tamer than other regions’, are achieved with a limited range of seasonings yet are perfectly balanced and attractive to modern adherents of clean eating, Dunlop argues. The Jiangnan is an exquisite “crucible of Chinese gastronomy,” and Dunlop’s scholarly homage to the region will captivate the culinary imagination. [em](Oct.) [/em]