Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook: Recipes From Hunan Province Hardcover – Jan 30 2007
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"Dunlop is a superb descriptive writer as well as careful recipe-tester, and Georgia Glynn Smith's greed-inspiring photographs give you the visual clues you need ... A great read, too, which is why it's my book of the year." -- Paul Levy The Observer "Fuchsia Dunlop has an amazing ability to entice the reader ... She brings the ancient culture and history of the cuisine to life, and gives the cook a greater understanding of and respect for each dish they are preparing. Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook: Recipes from the Hunan Province is not only a tremendously well-researched and informative recipe book, it is also a fascinating read." Heston Blumenthal "Evocative...takes you on a wonderful journey. Buy your chopsticks now!" Image Magazine "Her knowledge of food from the southern province of Hunan is staggering and she will give you the confidence to explore this wonderful way of eating" Delicious "not only a fascinating read about gastronomy...it is also a challenge to our perceptions of Chinese cuisine...Enticing recipes are intertwined with stories of her travels to weave a rich tapestry of people and places...Try a taste of these bold, spicy flavours once and you'll be hooked." -- Time Out --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Fuchsia Dunlop is the author of two cookbooks and a memoir. She writes for The New Yorker, the Financial Times, and Saveur. A graduate of Cambridge University and a fluent Mandarin speaker, she lives in London.
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Top Customer Reviews
I do prefer the first book over this latest one, but that is in no way a criticism of it's quality; rather, just a function of my personal preference for Szechuan over Hunanese cuisine.
I have little interest in cookery books that are simply just collections of recipes. Like her first effort, this book is rich with historical, cultural and linguistic information connected with the cuisine being discussed. My only negative criticism is that I especially love books that have a photograph, or photographs, of each dish for which there is a recipe... this book, and the earlier one, have lots of pix but not for each dish. STILL... that's a minor criticism.
C. John Thompsom
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The Sichuan and Hunan cuisines differ from each other as New Orleans Southern food differs from South Carolina Southern cuisine, and yet both of Dunlop's cuisines are clearly hotter and spicier "Chinese" to our tastes. Hunan folks are said to like food with chilies "fire-hot-hot" whereas Sichuan's dominant style is a mix of chili hot and the peculiar "mouth numbing", from the Sichuan "peppercorns".
The Hunan recipes in this Revolutionary Cookbook are straightforward, nearly all ingredients can be obtained from a local Chinese or Asian grocery store. The only one I can't find is "purple perilla", for which Asian basil is not quite a substitute. Not a problem.
The 120 recipe instructions are for preparing simple, straightforward "comfort food", and the food comes out tasting very good. It's lighter, and not gooey, like the cornstarch-laden Americanized Chinese food.
Delights include: Spicy steamed pork buns, BBQ'd lamb chops, Changde Clay-bowl chicken, yellow cooked salt cod in chili sauce, with most fish dishes steamed. Try Chairman Mao's red braised pork, or one of it's 7 supplied variations. I think Ms. Dunlop overdoes the Chairman Mao bit, putting his cheery face on many, many pages for no good reason; it contributes little to understanding of him, or of the Hunan cookery. I'd rather have had more beautiful photos of food and other aspects of Chinese culture and people, instead of so many of Mao's images.
Have you had the traditional Hunan dish- "General Tso's Chicken"? Guess again! FYI, She met the accepted creator of this NON-Hunan dish, with added sugar for US tastes, created in the 1970's in New York by Hunan chef Peng Chang-Kuei! And yes, most Hunanese have never tasted this bogus, yet popular dish that is known in the USA as the "quintessential Hunan dish"! To adjust for tastes, she has both a Hunan version, and a USA version of Gerneral Tso's to choose from.
From her first book being shown to a Chinese friend of mine from Chengdu,who cooked from it and proclaimed it "the real thing" I know that Ms. Dunlop's current book is gonna be just as accurate. No, I do not currently have an authentic Hunan friend to vouch for the recipes, and I do not mind, I like what spicy hot things I have cooked so far!
Just as an aside- Her photo is only somewhat kind to her, it is an oldie, and she looks better than that in person. She clearly "knows her stuff"; I recommend meeting/hearing her on her book tour.
Buy this, and buy the Sichuan book, Land of Plenty, and cook and taste authentic Chinese "comfort food" as it tastes in China... It's a lot better than the cornstarch-laden "Chinese" food served in most US restaurants.
I look forward to her next books.
Together with Dunlop's previous book on Sichuanese cooking, it is a refreshing change from the typical "Chinese" cookbook offering sticky-sweet Americanized versions of the real thing.
Dunlop provides interesting commentary on the origins of particular recipes and Hunan cuisine throughout the book, making it enjoyable to read in itself, especially for those of us who love food. In addition, the book is printed on glossy paper and has many more photos than Dunlop's previous book. Highly recommended.
I think that _Land of Plenty_ is still her best book, but this is a close second. The essays in _Land of Plenty_, for instance, are just superb, particularly the one about tea.
I'm wishing this cook & author a LONG life so she can continue to explore the food & food culture of China, and write many more books to share her learning with us.
There are two recipes for General Tso's Chicken in this book, and a good deal of text about the history of the dish. By far it seems to be more researched and (hopefully) more accurate than it is available on the man "fan pages" for the dish that the internet offers up. One recipe is for a Hunan-style General Tso's, and the other is for an American-style General Tso's.
There is also a recipe for pock marked grandmothers tofu. Another favorite, and it comes with a suprise. In this book, pork is substituted for the more traditional beef in the dish. I've never even seen the dish made with beef.
All in all, I'm already getting impatient for her next book to come out. There is lots more of China to explore culinarily, and I hope she manages to explore it all.