Have you ever had really good Chinese food and wondered what the secret is? Have you ever walked the aisles of an Asian food store and wondered what on earth do you do with tangerine peels and tripe? Chef Kian Lam Kho walks you through Asian cooking in a very approachable way in his cookbook, Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees.
Rather than this just being a collection or recipes this is all about technique and flavor. Kian Lam Kho helps you understand the regions, techniques, and ingredients to achieve an authentic flavor. This beautifully photographed book shows you calling it Chinese cuisine is as crazy as lumping French, German, Italian, etc. as European cuisine. The diversity of Xinjiang to Sichuan to Mongolia is wonderfully complex and delicious.
He then spends a good amount of time in the beginning of the book with written explanation and photos showing you the tools, how they are used, the ingredients, how they are prepared, and what a well stocked pantry looks like. Who knew thins like dried tangerine peel , Cassia Bark, and licorice are common ingredients?
He then walks you through how to make key sauces and bases. These are the building block of the dishes he will teach you. Understanding how to use this flavors to make the dishes come together gives you the flexibility to make your own Asian inspired dishes. Knowing where you can substitute and where you need to stick to the specific ingredients is what a good cookbook and recipe should teach you.
If you are wanting a recipe for sweet and sour pork or broccoli beef this isn’t the cookbook for you. If you are wanting to learn how to cook with Asian flavors and create unique Asian inspired dishes based on what is fresh and local than this is the prefect book to start with. So far I have cooked Red Cooked Beef and Barbecued Pork Lo Mein. Both of these dishes showed me I have a lot to learn but gave me enough flavor and interest that I can’t wait to keep working through this book and become a better Asian inspired cook.