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Chinese Cuisine by Huang Su Huei

Reviewed By

Sue Dyson and Roger McShane

Chinese Cuisine by Huang Su Huei was first printed in January 1972 and then revised and reprinted in October 1974. Another revised edition was printed in May 1976 and various printing continued with the sixteenth revised printing being in 1978.
For the time, this book represents a brave attempt to bring the true range of Chinese dishes to the West. The author ranges across a number of the diverse cuisines of this complex country including recipes from areas such as Shanghai, Beijing, Sichuan, Hunan and Canton.
The book is divided along the traditional appetiser, main course line, however the table of contents is really an index based on ingredients such as chicken, duck, pork, shrimp and so on.
However for those of you who tire of the usual approach to Westernised Chinese food, this book is a delight. When you look at the first recipe and photograph you are rewarded with a Seven-Star Appetizer Plate consisting of Bob-bon Chicken, Braised Beef Chuck, Kidneys in Pepper Sauce, Duckling Gizzards, Salted Jellyfish, Vegetarian Chicken and Walnuts. Considering the year in which this book was published, this was a very brave venture!
Purists will today decry the use of MSG in many of the recipes, however this was considered essential at the time (and still is in many parts of China for bringing out the flavour in the food). If you are anti-MSG then simply omit it and add more salt. If you are against salt as well then you shouldn't be trying to emulate these recipes.
Stand-out recipes in this book include the Cold Salted Chicken appetizer, Szechuan (Sichuan) Pickled Salad, Spicy salted Jellyfish Salad, Pearl Balls and Hot and Sour Soup. Our only disappointment is that we would like more context concerning when the dishes are prepared, why certain ingredients are used and other factors relating to the culture and cuisine.
This book is a valuable contributor to an understanding of the vast array of cuisines and dishes that are mistakenly bracketed together as ‘Chinese' food.
   - Independent commentary on the Web since 1996

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