Writing this cookbook, my tenth, brings my love of Asian food full circle. My fascination with Asia began in the public library, and in the pages of National Geographic. My desire to go and see the places pictured so handsomely grew to irresistible proportions, once I sat down for my first meal at a Chinese restaurant in North Carolina in the 1970’s. At that time, dishes came to the table in lidded metal serving pieces. They looked like space ships and presented me with flavors and ingredients I’d not encountered in my Southern childhood.
From Wong’s in High Point and Jung’s Chinese in Greensboro, NC, I headed out to the wider world of Asian food and culture, eventually traveling to Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Korea, and eventually to Singapore and Vietnam as well. While I adore the food and culinary traditions in each of these places, Chinese food remains precious because it got me started on the Asian cooking path. In addition, its influences within the kitchens of each of these countries is profound, in direct and indirect ways.
This book gave me the opportunity to gather an abundance of Chinese dishes that I love, at a time when the awareness and knowledge of Asian food and cooking here in the USA is deep and broad, and when it is possible for many people to find the necessary ingredients locally, or to order them easily by mail. I’ve included street food, family-style home cooking, regional specialties, and favorites from the Chinese-American restaurant tradition. From potsticker dumplings and Szechuan-style sesame noodles to Taiwanese-style salt-and-pepper pork chops and delectable lemon chicken, I’ve worked out my versions of the dishes I love to eat whether I’m traveling in Asia or ordering take-out from Hunan Kitchen.
The goal of my quick-and-easy Asian cookbooks, of which this is the third one, is to present delicious traditional Asian dishes which can be made in a Western kitchen using everyday methods, tools, and widely available ingredients, even on a busy weeknight. From Kung Pao Chicken on the cover to tasty Singapore Noodles and marvelous Cantonese-style egg custard tarts, you’ll find a wide array of recipes to cook for you, for your family, for company, or for a take-along dish to share at work.
Happy cooking, happy eating, from my latest cookbook. Visit my blog and let me know how things go as you cook these recipes in your own kitchen.