Friday, October 30, 2015

Book Review: PHOENIX CLAWS AND JADE TREES

9780385344685

UPDATE:  I will post more specifics later, but I have made quite a few recipes from here and while some were just okay, most were phenomenal!  As a vegetarian, I was easily able to substitute the meat for plant-based proteins, tofu or vegetables.  I would highly recommend this book.

Let me begin by saying, wow.  Like, truly, wow.  

Do you always get take-out Chinese because it seems to complicated to make at home?  But then you get it, and while you're eating you think this really doesn't seem like it's complicated to make, so you Google some recipes and try them out and...eh.  The problem probably wasn't the ingredients or the even the recipe, but simply bad technique.  

From the introduction of Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees: Essential Techniques of Authentic Chinese Cooking, Kian Lam Kho says,“In this book I demystify Chinese cooking by taking a unique approach. I believe that the cuisine is easiest to learn by technique. A dry stir-fry is no more difficult to prepare than a moist one; the key is to know which technique to use for which ingredient and for which final result. Armed with this knowledge, you can not only re-create dishes from all over China and many East Asian countries, but you can cook almost any ingredient in any fashion you’d like.”  

Instead of being broken down into chapters based on region or protein, this book focuses on different techniques in each chapter.  From stir fry, roasting and even cold dishes.  The best part are the little tidbits of information tucked into the pages of the book.  Do you know what to do with leftover oil?  Or how milky soup gets it's color without using dairy?  I also like that he includes detailed, but not overwhelming information about ingredients, equipment and hot to make different sauces to accompany the dishes like XO Sauce and chili oil.

Stir-Fried Beef with Black Pepper
Stir-Fried Beef with Black Pepper
We have recently converted to a mostly-vegetarian lifestyle.  Even though, the bulk of these dishes have meat, in reading it, I didn't seem any recipe that I wouldn't easily be able to convert to a meatless, or a faux-meat, meal.  (Side note, I'm still not overly impressed with any meatless ground meat that we've tried.  I'd rather grind up mushrooms and saute them until they are dried out and brown.  I'll let you know if I find anything worth using.)

Let's not forget the pictures.  They are just exquisite.  Most importantly, there are a lot of them!  What can I say, I'm a sucker for pretty pictures of food and this book is full of them.  I was going to list the recipes I was most interested in trying just based on the picture of it, but honestly, everything in here looks amazing.  And for the record, that's not a cop-out, that's the truth.

WOULD I BUY IT?  Do you even have to ask?  DEFINITELY!  I cook a lot of Chinese food at home.  Most of my recipes come from the internet and the results are often hit or miss.  I have a feeling that Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees won't let you down.  I'll come back (as I intended to, but haven't done yet out of sheer laziness) and update you on the recipes I have tried. 

I received a free copy of this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.  There was no obligation to give a positive review, and if you read my blog, you know I'm a tell-it-like it is kind of girl.  I mean what I say and say what I mean, that holds true for my review.



Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees

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