I have always liked Chinese food. But after returning from a trip China, I found myself missing the authentic Chinese meals so much, I had to learn how to cook them – the Chinese way. Chinese food in Pune was always Mainland China or Ahling, or an occasional hakka noodles made at home – all okay once in a while.
Growing up in the US it was pu-pu platter and any spicy schezwan curry. Pu-pu platter is an appetizer, which I think is banned now for its transfats or at least it should be – bright red spare ribs, large fried egg rolls, chicken wings and fried wontons served with sweet duck sauce on a large platter with a flame in the middle so we could reheat the meats.
In China I found myself eating Chinese every meal(barring breakfasts which are still not to my liking). I did have other choices, my husband always seemed to want some food other than Chinese such as Italian or even KFC(he can’t eat the same food more than a couple days) but I was hooked on the local Chinese preparations.
Being a bit weary of the offal and dubious meat that the Chinese are known for eating I decided that I would eat only vegetarian food for the trip but when I saw the fresh fish available at most restaurants I did add fish to my holiday menu, but more than the fish however, were the fresh vegetable preparations that got me hooked to the flavours of China. And in all three places that we visited – Beijing, Shanghai and Guilin did I find the same treatment to the vegetables. They were crunchy, no heavy sauces, but the taste, textures and were so flavourful that I found myself mopping up all the rice that came as an accompaniment.
Chinese cooking in India is heavy – fried foods with vegetables cut so thin they lose their crunch value – but everyone loves it and after our regular Desi khanna, Chinese is the preferred cuisine.
Although American, I found that Grace Young’s books allow me closely resemble the tastes that I experienced in China. The recipes are also easily doable at home and the ingredients are available locally at Fine Foods or Providore.
Her latest book, Stir-frying to the Sky’s Edge is on the expensive side but I have made enough recipes that I feel I got my money’s worth. The book is thorough and leaves no question unanswered. The author’s tips and detailed explanations have allowed me to replicate a few tastes I enjoyed in China. Stir-frying, I found is actually a very healthy way to cook calling for an abundance of fresh vegetables and little meat. The recipes do contain more oil than I would like, and I found that using a little less than mentioned does not alter the recipes — and moreover the meals are appreciated by my well-palated family.