cover image Chinese-ish: Home Cooking Not Quite Authentic, 100% Delicious

Chinese-ish: Home Cooking Not Quite Authentic, 100% Delicious

Rosheen Kaul and Joanna Hu. Interlink, $35 (224p) ISBN 978-1-62371-799-5

Chef Kaul and illustrator Hu (The Isol[asian] Cookbook) offer up a colorful and proudly inauthentic survey of Asian recipes. Drawing on her diverse ethnic background and experience as head chef at Etta in Melbourne, Kaul delivers on her promise of a “Chinese-ish story—vibrant, crispy, tasty, colorful, and incredibly delicious.” The recipes are enlivened by whimsical depictions of delicacies by Chinese Australian illustrator Hu as the pair measure out handy tips (their take on XO sauce is a home-based recreation as easy on the budget as it is on time) and classic favorites, including fried corn with spiced salt, and mango dessert pudding. The dishes are rich in heritage and individuality, with staples like pork and prawn wontons that employ ready-made wrappers, Beijing hot chicken based on the Nashville classic but modified with a Northern Chinese spice mix, and a slew of noodle dishes that pay homage to taste and tradition—none more so than Sichuan favorite “ants climbing a tree,” where clingy bits of minced pork evoke ants on the noodles. A solo dining section overflows with single-serve choices, and, for balance, Kaul and Hu offer up “great dishes for a crowd,” including dong po pork, which is braised in rice wine and aromatics. Hu’s illustrations amplify fanciful musings, as in the essay tracking her path away from what her parents considered an “acceptable” career and toward one in hospitality and later in art. Far-away flavors feel close to home in this delectable spread. (Dec.)