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From the Earth: Chinese Vegetarian Cooking (Hardcover)
by Eileen Yin-Fei Lo (Author)

Editorial Reviews (Amazon)
From Library Journal
Yin-Fei Lo, an authority on Chinese cooking and author of several other cookbooks, presents dozens of delicious and unusual Chinese vegetarian dishes. Some are recipes from her childhood and family, others are the "real" versions of dishes served in Chinese American recipes, and still others are her versions of classic dishes or her own innovations, often using ingredients not traditionally available in China. The readable headnotes give a good sense of the symbolism inherent in all of Chinese cooking, and a special chapter is devoted to the vegetarian dishes created in Buddhist temple kitchens. Highly recommended.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist
The culinary tidbits that Lo includes in her salute to earth foods are almost as intriguing as her more than 200 mainly vegetable recipes. Vegetarian Buddhists may eat only three types of seafood--mussels, claims, and oysters. The turnip cakes enjoyed at the Lunar New Year are a symbol that good fortune is rising, and so on. She insists on and explains the gathering together of the right stuff and learning the right techniques; a carbon-steel wok and cleaver, for example, are the two critical pieces of equipment in Chinese cooking. The best part of the book are the dishes--some tied to tradition, others the product of Lo's imagination. The need for exotic ingredients, from buckthorn seeds to red dates, may be the only deterrent to reader-cooks. Barbara Jacobs.

A Handy Guide to Asian Vegetables

It is the fact that "Chinese cabbage" isn’t really cabbage at all that prompted Rosa Lo San Ross to write her latest cookbook, Beyond Bok Choy. The book is an attempt to sort out that and other sources of pervasive confusion about Chinese vegetables.

It is long and narrow in shape, designed to be slipped into a pocket or bag to take on an excursion to the market. The book has about 50 large, vivid photos of Chinese greens, squashes, tubers and shoots with the name of each in English and two Chinese dialects. The text and recipes describe what they are and what to do with them.

S cabbage, a crop that ascended from a European weed. Cabbage has been grown in China for at least 2,000 years, but the weed is unknown in Asia, so the cabbage must have been carried in from Europe. The tight-heading crop that has come to be known as Chinese cabbage, some botanist have concluded, is a cross between bok choy and a turnip. The crop comes in a myriad of variations, four of which Ross included in her book: flat cabbage, flowering cabbage, bamboo mustard cabbage and wrapped heart cabbage.

Along with Chinese cabbage and bok choy, Chinese broccoli is one of the most widely available Asian vegetables, and can generally be found at any farmers market displaying other Asian vegetables. The "beef with broccoli" on the menu of every Chinese restaurant in the country served with non-Chinese broccoli is but a shadow of the dish with the genuine Chinese vegetable, Ross writes.

Authentic Beef with Chinese Broccoli

1-1/2 pounds Chinese broccoli (gai lan)

For the marinade:

1 tbs dark soy sauce
1 tbs cornstarch
2 tsp dry white wine
1 pound flank steak
3 tbs vegetable oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
1 scallion, green and white parts minced
1 tbs dark soy sauce
1/4 cup unsalted or low-sodium chicken stock or water
1 tbs brandy
1/2 tsp sugar
2 tsp roasted sesame oil

1. Wash the broccoli well in cold water, separating the leaves and the tender hearts
and the stalks. Peel the thicker stalks, if necessary,. Set aside.

2. Make the marinade. Mix the soy sauce, cornstarch, and wine in a bowl. Slice the
beef o what is "Chinese cabbage"? across the grain into 1/4-inch-thick pieces about 1-1/2 inches long. Combine with themarinade and let stand at least 10 minutes.

3. Heat 1 tbs oil in a wok and stir-fry the broccoli stalks, about 30 seconds to 1
minute, then add the leaves and hearts and stir-fry another 30 seconds, tossing
frequently. Remove to a bowl and set aside.

4. Return wok to the heat and add the remaining 2 tbss oil. Over medium-high heat,
stir-fry the garlic, ginger, and scallion for 30 seconds, or until aromatic. Add the beef
and stir-fry until browned, tossing frequently. Add the soy sauce, stock, brandy, and
sugar, then the broccoli, tossing to blend and heating the broccoli. Turn off heat,
drizzle with sesame oil, and serve.

The Cuisines of Asia: Nine Great Oriental Cuisines by Technique (About: Chinese Cuisine)

Few books attempt the in-depth exploration of Asian cuisines that is found in Jennifer Brennan's book, The Cuisines of Asia: Nine Great Oriental Cuisines by Technique. Originally published in the 1980's, it remains an indispensable addition to the kitchen bookshelf.

Brennan spent many years living in Southeast Asia, growing up in Pakistan and India. Her first-hand knowledge of Asian cooking is evident as she takes us on a culinary tour of nine Oriental cuisines: Chinese, Indian, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Malaysian, Philippine, Thai, and Vietnamese.

The book includes everything from a background on the countries and their cuisines, to a detailed primer on the type of kitchen equipment you'll need to prepare Oriental food. Then, of course, there are the recipes. The recipe section is organized both by type of dish and cooking technique: one chapter is devoted to stir-frying, while another discusses curries, a third explores Oriental salads, and so forth. This method helps illustrate how local variations in cooking styles and ingredients can lend a distinctive flavor to a specific dish. For example, Indian curry has a unique flavor that distinguishes it from Chinese curry, although the basic technique for preparing curry is the same in both countries. I particularly enjoyed the section "Dressed to Fill" containing both recipes for both salads and dressings. There's everything from Indian dressing with peanut butter, a Malaysian dressing made with coconut milk, Japanese miso dressing and a basic Chinese dressing made with rice vinegar. The salad recipes are equally varied.

"There is almost no limit to the varieties and combinations of vegetables used in the
salads of the East...At first sight, the most noticeable thing about Asian salads is their
attractive presentation." (pages 215 - 216)

Another feature that sets this book apart is the lengthy section on food preparation. Everything from skinning a chicken to cleaning squid is covered here, with detailed drawings to make the explanations clearer. At the back of the book there is a glossary of ingredients commonly featured in Oriental cooking, including, where possible, substitutions for readers who may find it impracticable to visit an Asian market.

I have one small complaint with the book's organization. The section covering kitchen equipment falls between the introduction and the history of the cuisines, when it would be more logical to place it near the section on food preparation. But this is a minor point. Overall, Jennifer Brennan has done an excellent job of providing both the novice and more experienced cooks with everything they need to prepare authentic Asian dishes.

The Cuisines of Asia: Nine Great Oriental Cuisines by Technique
Author: Jennifer Brennan
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Price: $13.56
ISBN: 0312039778