This is a BBC book which was first published in 2000. I’m not a big fan of most Chinese food – I usually prefer other Asian cuisines – so the book has mostly languished relatively unused on the shelf for years. However, sometimes I like to get back to basics and it seemed like a good idea to have another look at this book. I wasn’t disappointed!
Previously the main thing I used this book for was for the Chinese pancake recipe – those things you use for Crispy Aromatic Duck, along with hoisin sauce and accompaniments. I have so many cookbooks I can’t always remember which book to get what recipe from but as soon as I find a page with food stains on it, I can be pretty sure that I’ve found the recipe I’m after. In this case Hom’s pancake recipe page was noticeably garnished with the flour of several uses.
I’m afraid to say I can be a bit hit-and-miss when making rice so I decided to stop messing about and do what I was told for once. I followed Ken Hom’s recipe for “perfect steamed rice”. Yes, I really did follow the recipe! And as a result got… perfect steamed rice. I subsequently went on to make egg fried rice with it but added some prawns and various other things, not in Hom’s original recipe, which were lurking in the fridge. It was “use it or lose it” time, but the result was pretty good. Sorry, no photos, but sometimes it’s a pain to be snapping away when you’re more interested in cooking or eating.
I’ve also made spring rolls according to a recipe in this book, and they were pretty good too, although I included beansprouts and other things in mine which weren’t in Ken Hom’s original recipe.
This is a seriously good book! It’s never yet let me down. I should use it more often. Let me tell you a little more about it.
It’s a step-by-step guide to creating what Ken Hom describes as authentic Chinese food in your own home. Personally I doubt if it’s really very authentic. It’s much more like the kind of food you’d expect from a Chinese restaurant in the West.
After the interesting introduction by Ken Hom there’s a chapter on ingredients and equipment before moving on to the recipes themselves. The book does what it says on the tin. It’s a step-by-step approach. Most recipes are quick and easy and there’s an emphasis on using readily available ingredients. The photography is excellent too, with plenty of how-to help as well as appetising photos of the finished dishes.
The chapters cover:
- Soups and Starters
- Fish and Shellfish
- Meat and Poultry
- Vegetables and Side Dishes
- and suggested Menus to help you plan a special meal
I feel a bit sorry I’ve neglected this book for so long. It’s very useful and deserves more attention than I’ve been giving it. Yes, if you’ve any interest in Chinese cooking you’d be hard pushed to beat this.
Foolproof Chinese Cookery
Hardback, 128 pages
2000, BBC Worldwide
ISBN 0 563 55133 X