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What's cooking?

A perfect storm of events has led me to explore the library collection of Chinese cooking books.  We had our kitchen renovated, and the lovely new space has me excited about cooking.  A new stove with a wok holder is a bonus!  In addition, my 28 year old son has also been exploring Chinese cooking.  He's got the added benefit of Toronto's Chinatown and its supply of mystifying Chinese vegetables.  My son and I started with Eileen Lo's The Chinese Kitchen, an older title (1999).  He bought a copy, and I borrowed the library's.  It's full of information and opinions about the best ingredients--which rice wine to use, recommended soy sauces, warnings about inferior ingredients. 

With my wok fixation, I wanted to focus on wok cooking and discovered Grace Young's The Breath of a Wok.  When Young was a child, her father taught her the importance of wok hay, or the spirit of the wok--the synthesis of flavours, textures, scents and beauty that come together when food is properly cooked in a wok. I had read Young's earlier book on Chinese cooking, The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen and liked her clear writing, family stories, and wonderful recipes.  I have tried several recipes from The Breath of a Wok; they're delicious and relatively easy to prepare on a  work night.

Recently, my son and I have become very excited about Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid.  Their new book, Beyond the Great Wall, features their travels, photographs, anecdotes and excursions together with recipes in parts of China most of us will only read about.   We loved their earlier work--Seductions of Rice, Mangoes and Curry Leaves, and Flatbreads and Flavors but this new book tops them all.

I'm going to try my hand at some dim sum recipes next.  I've got my eye on Dim Sum:  The Art of Chinese Tea Lunch by Ellen Leong Blonder.  But first, I'm going to perfect Grace Young's recipe for beef with Chinese broccoli; spicy enough for these cold winter nights.  Mmm....