Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees
By Kian Lam Kho
Published by Clarkson Potter
368 Pages

Back Cover: Create nuanced, complex, authentic Chinese flavors at home by learning the cuisine’s fundamental techniques.

Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees offers a unique introduction to Chinese home cooking, demystifying it by focusing on its basic cooking methods. In outlining the differences among various techniques—such as pan-frying, oil steeping, and yin-yang frying—and instructing which one is best for particular ingredients and end results, culinary expert Kian Lam Kho provides a practical, intuitive window into this unique cuisine. Once one learns how to dry stir-fry chicken, one can then confidently apply the technique to tofu, shrimp, and any number of ingredients.

Accompanied by more than 200 photographs, including helpful step-by-step images, the 158 recipes range from simple, such as Spicy Lotus Root Salad or Red Cooked Pork, to slightly more involved, including authentic General Tso’s Chicken or Pork Shank Soup with Winter Bamboo. But the true brilliance behind this innovative book lies in the way it teaches the soul of Chinese cooking, enabling home cooks to master this diverse, alluring cuisine and then to re-create any tempting dish they encounter or can imagine.

REVIEW: Kian Lam Kho briefly talks about how this book came about in the introduction. He moved it America and found out the only way to eat good Chinese food was to make it himself. He was unable to find a cook book to make the dishes he craved. So he started to write family members requesting their recipes. The authors says, “In this book I demystify Chinese cooking by taking a unique approach. I believe that the cuisine is easiest to learn by technique… over the years I’ve mastered techniques and developed recipes that helped me in my kitchen.”

Inside this beautiful hard back book that has over 200 pictures and 158 recipes are some pretty amazing looking meals along with practical and easy to understand instructions. The book also has a red ribbon attached inside to mark your place. Most of the ingredients in the book are easy to find and/or order on line.

The author goes on to say,…”The chapters here are organized according to cooking methods rather than the usual division by ingredients or region…I have kept the home cook in mind and have omitted some that are seldom used.”

Recipes inside this book include many classic, home-style and restaurant dishes, and ones that are for every day family dinners. The author includes some banquet type meals as well. I liked that this author included a brief history and culture talk about regional Chinese Cuisine and The Birth of China’s culinary cuisines. He includes a map and gives you the basics; it’s a wonderful overview.

I liked the Explosion in the Wok section – the author talks about how to use it, the importance of the heat levels and ingredients, great step by step photos on cooking technique. Can’t wait to try Fried Rice, Stir-Fried Lo Mein and Moo Goo Gai Pan.

In the Dipping in Oil chapter – the technique looked interesting. Can’t wait to try Crispy Chicken, Friend Sesame Port, Tenderloin, and Fried Tofu skin Rolls.

The Virtues of Slow Cooking chapter had dishes I’d like to try such as; Braised Chicken, Three cup Chicken, Braised Chicken Wings, and Blanched Shrimp and I the liked the food as medicine section too.

The Intricacy of Boiling section had dishes I’d like to try such as Blanched Asparagus, White cooked chicken, Steeped Whole Tilapia.

My family and I love soup so The Making of Hearty Soups chapter was a delight to discover. So many soups to try like the Eight Treasure Winter Melon Soup, Crabmeat and White Asparagus Soup, Pear Soup. Another chapter I found interesting is about Playing with Fire. Can’t wait to try the pancakes and Barbeque port in this section. I found the two page spread of step by step pictures of how to prepare the meat for cooking and other techniques throughout the book very helpful.

The Appetizing Cold Dishes chapter looked yummy. I look forward to trying eggplant salad, Chinese celery and pressed tofu salad and shrimp salad.

The Sweet but not Dessert chapter looks good too. It shows you how to cook with syrup, and caramel coatings. I’d like to try sesame candied walnuts, pulled Carmel apple, Sugar coated cashew nuts. I’m thrilled at the prospect of making Chinese food at home that tastes like I got it from a the restaurant.

Disclosure of Material Connection:
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging for Books. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

Nora St. Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins!
The Book Club Network blog
Book Fun Magazine


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