Authentic Chinese Cuisine: for the Contemporary Kitchen by Bryanna Clark Grogan
As someone who was born with a milk allergy, I have always loved Asian food. When authentically made, it is almost always dairy-free, yet rich with so many different flavors. I often take my ability to enjoy flavors of the East for granted, since cuisines such as Chinese can actually be a minefield for those who are on even more restrictive diets, such as gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free, or vegan. In fact, in reading this cookbook (yes, I actually read all cookbooks before I trial recipes), my eyes were opened to just how may recipes use animal-based ingredients. The Chinese are not shy with their use of eggs, chicken, beef, pork, duck, seafood, and condiments such as oyster sauce.
While I can cook from most Chinese cookbooks, Bryanna made me realize that this isn’t quite as easy for vegetarians. To solve this problem, she not only created mock recipes for meat-filled steamed dumplings, egg foo young, sweet and sour pork, and kung pao chicken, but she also goes to the root of the “problem,” the ingredients. You will actually find recipes in this book for homemade, egg-free won ton wrappers and animal-free oyster sauce and duck sauce.
This cookbook really is a must have for vegetarians and vegans who are yearning for some good, comforting, Chinese food. For myself (a non-vegan), I am still happy to put this book among my petite collection of cookbooks that get used. The various homemade sauces look like they will be quite fun to experiment with, and I have been very curious to trial making Chinese buns and dumplings at home.
Bryanna focuses on authenticity with all of her regionally inspired cookbooks, yet you shouldn’t need a trip to the Asian market when first starting out with this cookbook. Most of the recipes, including the homemade sauces, use everyday “American” ingredients, but in a few of the recipes, she doesn’t hesitate to use Chinese vegetables.