Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees is a tutorial; a tomb of knowledge. Recipes for cooking up some delish Chinese fare do not truly begin until page 100. Page 100 people! So, the first 99 pages are devoted to teaching us the what, why, and how of Chinese cooking. Personally, I find this enticing and exciting….it allows me to explore why I enjoy Chinese food and it gives me the essential tools that I need to be successful in the kitchen. The chapters within the first 99 pages include the essence of Chinese food, the Chinese kitchen and pantry, basic ingredient preparation (key) and Chinese stocks. Each chapter that includes recipes also include further knowledge to ensure that we (I) are successful with the Chinese cooking technique being taught within that chapter. There are even detailed descriptions and pictures on how to create certain iconic dishes. Moo Goo Gai Pan, anyone? How about Salt Baked Chicken, no? I know you want to make Peking Duck!!! There are 14….count them 14….pictures that show you (me) step-by-step how to make this dish! There are even tutorials…pictorials…on how to clean a whole fish. To be honest with you and truthfully myself, I sincerely doubt that I will ever do this (I won’t say never because you know what they say about saying never). Even with that, I like the fact that I will be able to say that I, technically speaking, ‘know how to clean and filet a whole fish’.
This book is more than a cookbook to me; it is one that is currently in my bedroom. I find myself dragging it with me from den to bedroom. I am enjoying reading it as I would a novel. There is such a depth of information in this book. This book will help me be successful with my other Asian-style cookbooks (or cookery bookery as Julia would say).
The photos beautifully capture the recipes. They will call out to you…make me, you must make me…. The book cover photo is of Stir-fried Ho Fan. Like the photo said….I gotta make it.
P.S. I love General Tso’s Chicken. I admit this is one of the dishes that I always order at PF Chang’s. In the book is an authentic recipe, along with how-to pictures. I will be making this dish.
P.S.S. This book is a keeper.