cover image Easy Family Recipes from a Chinese-American Childhood

Easy Family Recipes from a Chinese-American Childhood

Ken Hom. Alfred A. Knopf, $27.5 (336pp) ISBN 978-0-394-58758-5

Cookbook veteran Hom (Ken Hom's Chinese Kitchen) admits that Chinese cooking carries expectations of lots of preparation work, exotic ingredients and split-second timing. To offset this faulty rep, he recalls his youth in Chicago's Chinatown, where his working mother prepared family meals and where he was apprenticed to a restaurateur uncle at age 11. What he learned from both of them forms the basis for this extremely inviting menu of 150 recipes. Many are familiar and uncomplicated: Easy Shrimp with Crispy Snow Peas, Classic Kung Pao Chicken, even Traditional Chow Mein. In an appealing approach, he includes double recipes for a number of familiar dishes (among them, Chop Suey; Egg Rolls; and Lemon Chicken), offering both the Chinese-American and the Chinese versions. The Chinese version of Chop Suey features shredded pork with snow peas, shredded scallions and chili bean paste, while the Chinese-American rendition calls for cubed pork with bok choy, bean sprouts and celery. Not all recipes are a snap. Chinese-Style Roast Chicken calls for dipping a chicken in boiling water several times, drying it in front of a fan for 45 minutes, then roasting in an oven. Though it includes some dishes unfamiliar to Western tongues--Mrs. Wong's Braised Pig Snout, for example--Hom's latest collection is an excellent place to start for home cooks who want to add Chinese to their culinary repertoire. (Oct.)