Top positive review
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A Heartwarming Book, Very Worthy of its Small Subject
on January 30, 2004
This 'Dim Sum, The Art of Chinese Tea Lunch' is the second book from graphic artist Ellen Leong Blonder. The first three things which strike one about the book is that it is a smallish book for a fairly sizable subject, the author is neither a chef nor a culinary journalist, and that the design and illustrations in the book are exceedingly well done.
I always have problems rating small books which commonly give half the value for about two thirds of the price of full sized books. Since this is Ms. Blonder's second book on a culinary subject, and since her first book won an IACP Cookbook award, her being an apparent culinary amateur should cause no concern about the quality of the book's contents.
The book is divided into the following chapters:
Boiled and Pan-Fried Dumplings
Breads and Baked Dishes
Rice and Rice Flour Dishes
Greens and Pan-Fried Dishes
Deep-Fried and Bean Curd Sheet Dishes
Sauces and Condiments
The book also contains small sections on types of tea, planning a menu, equipment and supplies, resources, and bibliography.
In a book this small, the bibliography becomes an important resource. The text states that some Dim Sum restaurants offer over a hundred dishes, yet this book has barely 110 pages devoted to often two page recipes. The book makes up for this sparseness in two very important ways.
First, it spends much of its space dedicated to Dim Sum cooking methods and equipment for steaming and deep-frying. It also gives excellent recipes for dumpling doughs and wrappers plus methods for folding dumplings.
Second, this book succeeds very well as a 'feel good' book based on both the text and the color drawings, and the exceptionally good job of designing the book.
The greatest personal attraction of the book is the fact that it includes excellent recipes for baked 'char siu bao' dumplings, something I often got at New Jersey Asian Markets, but which seem totally alien to the backwater Lehigh Valley. Having taken up cooking, this is one of the first things I wanted to try. The instructions for these baked filled rolls is a clean and you may wish. I have seen recipes in other books, which seem to require instructions on how to read the recipe.
If you love well-designed books or Chinese cooking, this book will warm your heart and your tummy.