cover image Ken Hom's Quick and Easy Chinese Cooking

Ken Hom's Quick and Easy Chinese Cooking

Chronicle Books, Ken Hom. Chronicle Books, $14.95 (124pp) ISBN 978-0-87701-770-7

Purists and food snobs, look elsewhere for instructions on staging a complete Szechuan banquet. Instead, this is a bonanza for American cooks who like Chinese-style dishes and want to learn how to make a few simple ones, but not master an entire cuisine. It's a book to rely on for cooking family dinner, a book to get all spattered with peanut oil. Hom, a popular television chef who literally wrote the book on Chinese technique, deftly turns his quick, inexpensive chicken wing stock into a subtle chicken and watercress soup as well as a tomato ginger soup. A simple dish of stir-fried peppers with scallops lends itself to acceptable substitutions: clams or mussels for the scallops; asparagus, zucchini or snow peas for the peppers. Even humble ground beef can be enlivened with ginger, bean paste and chili powder for a hot and spicy rice with beef. Desserts aren't Chinese cuisine's strongest suit, so Hom wisely limits himself to such offerings as lichees with papaya sauce and fresh strawberries with orange liqueur. Some may find the estimated preparation times optimistic, and the ``shopping list'' accompanying each dish is nearly useless, but these are minor quibbles. Photos. (Oct.)