Seasonal Cooking 24 Feb 2013 05:58 pm
I’ve gotten a lot of great new cookbooks recently, but one that I’m particularly excited about is Diana Kuan’s The Chinese Takeout Cookbook. You may well have heard about it already, as it’s getting a good amount of press. In case you haven’t, as its name suggests the book consists of recipes for the familiar staples found in a typical Chinese takeout joint.
This isn’t the book to go to for “authentic” Chinese cuisine: these are, as Diana says in her introduction, Americanized dishes. But it is the book to go to if you want to learn to cook crab Rangoon, or sweet and sour pork, or mapo tofu, or whatever your own most-craved takeout dish might be.
It’s also definitely the book to go for an accessible, friendly starting point for Chinese cooking, and for relief from daunting, weightier Chinese cookbooks with recipes for things like tea-smoked duck. The dishes in The Chinese Takeout Cookbook are eminently familiar, and the recipes for them are extremely well-written and clear. The friendly presentation makes you understand that these are not complicated dishes and are well within the reach of any cook.
For Diana’s Chinese New Year Virtual Potluck, I prepared her recipe for Kung Pao Chicken (one of my own very favorite takeout dishes). It was delicious. It took well under an hour to prepare, start to finish, rice and all, even though I was making this dish for the first time. I can’t wait to try the beef and broccoli, egg rolls, and the beautiful marbled tea eggs. Highly recommended!