I'm a pretty big fan of Fuchsias, having discovered her cookbooks when going through some nasty chinese food withdrawals in Texas after a move from NYC. Having been a chef, and not finding the Chinese food I craved, I set out to create, myself, what I needed. Ms Dunlop's books were by far above and beyond the other books I tried. Unlike most people, I preferred her second book Revolutionary chinese cookbook (Hunan recipes) over Land of Plenty (Sichuan), and when her first new book in seven years was coming out I pre-ordered it asap. It arrived two weeks before its release date (!) and I opened it up to...a recipe I already knew??
General Tso's chicken, on page 122, I didn't need. First of all it's already on page 120 of Revolutionary, and I know it by heart, having cooked it about eight times a year for years. The next recipe I see is Pock-Marked Old Woman's Tofu...Hmm, I know that one too. It's on page 313 of Land of Plenty. Then I read the introduction and she's retelling a story that's in her memoir Shark's fin and Sichuan pepper! Damn, her third cookbook is a greatest hits?
Not quiet. I was shocked at first, but the Pock-Marked tofu was a new vegetarian version, the book is a lot thicker than the last two (and I needed to dig more, I guess), and her General Tso's chicken is so good, it's ok to publish it twice. She noted in the end of her memoir she was thinking of going vegetarian, and a lot of these recipes are light on meat, or none at all. But the main emphases in this book are on lighter, healthier, more cost effective Chinese recipes, not on her own personal diet.
I've already cooked a few recipes, and have read a bunch more, I'm impressed. A lot of work has gone into this book. My only complaint is I've had trouble finding some of her ingredients here, even when I wrote down the English and Chinese names of what I needed, and asked for help from my local huge Chinese grocery store. But her list is a British version of Chinese ingredients that I'm looking for in Texas...I'll make up what I can't find (read Melissa Clark's cookbooks for the fine art of making it up as you go along). Well done, Fuchsia, you've impressed me again.