Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: TarcherPerigee (December 4, 2012)
Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
Best Sellers Rank: #312,382 in Books (See Top 100 in Books) #106 in Books > Cookbooks, Food & Wine > Asian Cooking > Chinese #659 in Books > Cookbooks, Food & Wine > Special Diet > Vegetarian & Vegan > Vegan #3550 in Books > Cookbooks, Food & Wine > Regional & International
I'm a big fan of the author's cookbooks for several reasons. She avoids meat and cheese substitutes. She uses a lot of fruits and vegetables and often has nice, light recipes for Summer that differ from the often carb-heavy standards of vegan cookbooks. She avoids foods that many vegan cookbooks rely on that are allergens for some people and their dinner guests like soy foods, seitan/gluten and nut creams. She usually has a mix of more complex, authentic dishes mixed in with some simple, easy recipes you can whip up fast with supermarket ingredients. All of these qualities are true of this book ( though it does use some tofu and seitan in culturally specific recipes that call for them).However this cookbook has some major cons and is my least favorite of her books ( I have most of them).1 ) There are just so many better Asian food cookbooks out there that are either more authentic or contain more of the familiar classics. There's "the Asian Vegan Kitchen" if you want something authentic. There's "30 Minute Vegan's Taste of the East" if you want to duplicate restaurant standards like sesame tofu and Thai iced tea.2 ) I'm old enough to remember the bad old days of vegan food when people came up with weird, random flavor combinations like bananas in spinach salad and tofu in spaghetti. She usually keeps those recipes to a minimum and sticks to naturally vegan classic from various world cuisines. However this book seems to have an awful lot of such recipes. There's a strange, sweet soup made from apples, figs and vegetable broth. There's a cookie made from Chow Mein noodles and chocolate that I'm pretty sure people in China don't eat.
(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review at the publisher's behest.)I've taken to reviewing cookbooks lately because I like the challenge. I can be rather lazy when it comes to cooking, and tend to procrastinate to the point where my only choices for dinner are last night's leftovers - or a pita bread pizza. Making unfamiliar dishes, on the other hand, requires planning and flexibility - my culinary arch nemeses! Enter: the cookbook review. Since publisher-provided review copies usually come with a deadline (albeit self-imposed, but then I'm always my own biggest critic), they provide just the right amount of motivation to keep me on track.So when Penguin USA offered me a free copy of THE CHINESE VEGAN KITCHEN (Donna Klein, 2012) for review, I jumped at the chance. Though I love (some) "Chinese food," my experiences up until now have been limited to the occasional takeout and prepackaged vegan egg rolls found at the local supermarket's "meals to go" cooler. Before last month, I'd never so much as made my own lo mein - let alone assembled egg rolls from scratch!The same time I was working my way through the recipes in The Chinese Vegan Kitchen, Salon featured an interview with English Fuchsia Dunlop in which she "explain[ed] Western misperceptions about one of our favorite culinary imports": There is no "Chinese cuisine". In a country as large and diverse as China - more the size of a continent than a nation - to speak of one common culinary style amounts to an "over-simplification." Chinese food, says Dunlop, is at once "varied and multi-faceted," yes shares certain cultural elements.
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