When learning a new cuisine I find it important to get different perspectives. It’s pretty much my rule in life. I don’t trust easily. I don’t take things at face value easily. I question. Then I question some more but the reward of being this way is the journey, the discovery, and learning for myself. Chinese food and cooking is a perfect example. Do I like Chinese food. Absolutely. Did I have ant idea if this would be something I could do at home? Not at all. I started with Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees which is a book more about technique than one of recognizable dishes but to try and balance that out with recipes for things I both knew and didn’t know I wanted a book that was more about the recipe. Every Grain of Rice is that book. Sure Fuchsia Dunlop takes you through plenty of technique but what’s great about her recipes and her cookbook is the simplicity and recipes.
Fuchsia is both well respected in the Chinese culinary world as well as a winner of multiple awards for her numerous books. Although, she too talks about technique and ingredients what I really love about her book is it’s simplicity. Recipes never seem to go beyond 8 items and the instructions may be no more than a paragraph or two.
Though not every recipe is photographed a large number of them are, enough to get you excited about trying your had at a few of these dishes. Then, once you’ve done one or two, you tend to kinda get hooked.
Whether it’s quick marinades, a stir fry in unites, or a low slow braise she makes each of these recipes very approachable for the home cook. My one word of advice is to make your shopping list based on the recipes you’re interested in and then google around for images of the various ingredients that you don’t recognize. If you find out there are other names for the same ingredient it can be helpful to write them down as well. A good example of this was for the Tofu Bamboo. In the recipe she also calls it Tofu Knots. When in actuality in the Asian Store I shop in they were called Bean Curd Knots. (Which by the way are my new favorite thing to eat! They are kind of like an Asian pasta! Yum!)
Maybe one of my favorite dishes so far is the Stir-Fried Greens with Dried Shrimp. This recipe is 5 ingredients and about 3 steps. The result is this amazingly delicious shrimp and cabbage dish and it took maybe 2 minutes to cook. The bulk of the time spent on this recipe was simply chopping the cabbage but I think next time I will just use my food processor. She encourages you to choose the greens you want to used for this so I went the route of Asian cabbage and LOVED IT!
So if you’re interested in expanding you knowledge of Asian recipes, techniques, and flavor combinations this is a fantastic cookbook. Oh, and one other thing I love about her book is that in the beginning she offers up “Menu Ideas”. I don’t know why this isn’t a requirement in every cookbook. I mean the author knows what will go well together so how hard would it be but what Fuchsia does is gives you 4 menus for 2,4, or 6 people and gives you vegetarian menus as well.
I loved this book so much that I have already picked up her latest “Land of Fish and Rice” as well as her book about her travels through China.
RECIPES MADE FROM THIS BOOK: