Tag Archives: Chinese

Book Review: The Dumpling Galaxy Cookbook, by Helen You

Four Views on HellThe Dumpling Galaxy Cookbook by Helen You is your new cookbook for Chinese dumplings made easy. With easy, step-by-step instructions, You (pronounced “yō”) guides readers through the basics of forming, shaping, and the three cooking methods of boiling, steaming, and panfrying. Full of traditional and innovative recipes (I can’t wait to try the pork and pu’er tea dumplings), You encourages the reader not only to follow her recipes, but to experiment and try new things, offering plenty of helpful tips for pairing ingredients and cooking methods, as well as tips for avoid dumplings that are too wet, too dry, and too chewy.

Surviving the hardships of China’s Cultural Revolution, You began making dumplings as a way to stay connected to her hometown. Fast-forward years later, she now has an innovative dumpling restaurant with a menu that boasts over one hundred items. Though we may not be able to visit the restaurant, You gives us the steps, tips, and encouragement to experience her passion right in our own homes.

This is a great little book for all current and future dumpling fanatics!


*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Book Review: The Dim Sum Field Guide, by Carolyn Phillips

The Dim Sum Field GuideIf you’re looking for the best introduction to dim sum and the cuisine of many Chinese teahouses and specialty restaurants, then look no further than Carolyn PhillipsThe Dim Sum Field Guide. This educational tool and potential travel companion (roughly 6″x6″x3/4″ and easily stowed in a purse or bag) has been carefully thought out and formatted to provide anyone (I’d even include Chinese natives in this boat) with a solid foundation for an excellent dim sum experience! Of course, much of the cuisine is focused on what one may find in a Cantonese establishment, but that doesn’t mean all originated in the southeast region of mainland China.


Phillips begins with a little bit on categories of tea and etiquette for selection, ordering, serving, drinking, and paying in a traditional Chinese culture. She follows with the same for dim sum, but goes well beyond categories and into a plethora of specific savory and sweet types, noting further variations on each when applicable. Every item takes up two pages: the left page contain the English name and hand drawn sketch of the food, including estimated dimensions—helpful when determining how much to order given one’s appetite; and the right page includes the food’s name in Chinese characters, pinyin, and Cantonese, how to identify it, basic fillings and default sauces/dips when applicable, plating and arrangements, its origin (contestation acknowledged when applicable), and then some applicable varieties, each labeled in English, Chinese characters, pinyin, and Cantonese. Stylistically, I enjoy the sketches provided in this book over photographs, harking back to culinary texts of old—it also speaks to the time and care taken in the book’s planning, development, and execution.

Not only informative and useful as a point-and-order volume, this is sure to whet one’s appetite and encourage readers to experiment and try new things.

For the myriad of readers disappointed after having picked this up expecting a cookbook, which it certainly is not (Nor is it disappointing in the slightest when properly used), I highly recommend Carolyn Phillips’ All Under Heaven: Recipes from the 35 Cuisines of China, the best and most comprehensive Chinese cookbook I’ve ever seen, as well as Andrea Nguyen’s Asian Dumplings: Mastering Gyōza, Spring Rolls, Samosas, and More.


*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Book Review: All Under Heaven: Recipes from the 35 Cuisines of China, by Carolyn Phillips

All Under HeavenAll Under Heaven: Recipes from the 35 Cuisines of China by Carolyn Phillips is the most comprehensive cookbook of Chinese cuisine I’ve ever seen, and I’ve looked through many in both the US and China. There are certainly others that go into greater detail on a specific type of cuisine (e.g., I have one just for dumplings), but this is the first that covers such a broad range of local cuisines with such depth and intentionality. If you only have one Chinese cookbook, this is indeed the one to have.

Phillips divides the cuisines into five regions with several subcategories:

  1. The North & Manchurian Northeast
    1. Shandong
    2. Beijing
    3. Tianjin
    4. Hebei
    5. The Northeast
  2. The Yangtze River & Its Environs
    1. Huai Yang
    2. Jiangsu
    3. Shangjai
    4. Zhejiang
    5. Northern Fujian
    6. Anhui
    7. Henan
    8. Jiangxi
  3. The Coastal Southeast
    1. The Kakka
    2. Chaozhou
    3. Southern Fujian
    4. Taiwan
    5. Taiwan’s Military Families
    6. Hainan
    7. Guangdon and Southern Guangxi
    8. Pearl River Delta
    9. Macau
    10. Hong Kong
  4. The Central Highlands
    1. Sichuan
    2. Hunan
    3. Yunnan
    4. Guizhou
    5. Northern Guangxi
  5. The Arid Lands
    1. Shaanxi
    2. Shanxi
    3. Gansu
    4. The Northwest
    5. Inner Mongolia
    6. Tibet

Each section begins with a couple pages about the region and a short paragraph or two on each subcategory, followed by a plethora of recipes organized by appetizers & small plates, soups, entrées, side dishes, starches & street food, sweets, and beverages. Therefore, the recipes are not organized according to subcategories, though each recipe is labeled accordingly. Over 300 recipes are provided, and I can personally vouch for the authenticity of many. This is a rather large tome (514 pages and 8.3 x 1.9 x 10.2 inches!), and there are, of course, decisions to be made as to the inclusion and exclusion of certain regional dishes. Given the wide variety found herein, including both simple and complex, as well as the aforementioned street food, it is obvious that this is not merely a set of recipes of fine Chinese restaurants. So, I am not quite sure why Phillips would leave out something as nationally recognized as Yangzhou fried rice or the Tibetan dietary staple of barley with yak milk, but the recipes that are provided are indeed authentic to their regions. Perhaps “fried rice is fried rice is fried rice” to some, so a simpler recipe found in the book would perceivably suffice, and it is not likely that many will find yak milk at their local grocers nor online; thus the recipes may have been chosen based on both authenticity and accessibility, for which I have no complaints. Again, it is a treasure as is!

The last 120 pages (The Fundamentals) include basic recipes and techniques for things found throughout the book, especially for those who wish to make rather than purchase certain ingredients and/or specific preparations thereof. A glossary and buying guide is organized alphabetically according it English name or transliteration with both their Chinese character and pinyin translations—both helpful and important when shopping in ethnic stores, as one should! Finally, included are recommended menus for each region according to mealtime and number of people served.

The book itself is beautifully and simply designed with black and red text (very Chinese) and hand-sketched pictures indicative of traditional art and cookbooks—none of the gorgeous photography of cookbooks I normally review, but beautiful all the same. Those who can read Chinese may find an intentional comedic moment or two therein.

I highly recommend this book to those looking for a wide variety of China’s distinct and authentic cuisines, as well as those who only eat at Chinese-American fast food restaurants and don’t know what they’re missing by buying cookbooks that cater to those tastes! I imagine this will quickly become a staple work in culinary endeavors.


*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.