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The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking: Techniques and Recipes
Release Date: July, 1982
Publisher: HarperCollins Canada / Non-Fiction
There are many fine books on Chinese cooking. Among them, Barbara Tropp's the Modern Art of Chinese Cooking stands out for its grounding in the underlying philosophy of this sophisticated cuisine. Tropp explores the yin and yang, the harmony of opposites underlying all aspects of Chinese life. Relating them particularly to cooking, she illustrates how seasoning with both chiles and sugar gives a dish fullness of flavor that is more than just hot and sweet. The author gives much attention to equipment and techniques--this is an in-depth manual as well a recipe book. Ever practical, she is not too shy to advise readers about using a Western-style skillet for stir frying, along with advice on using woks, cleavers, and steamers. The recipe section opens with assorted nibbles. Dishes range from spicy Szechuan Ma-La Cold Chicken to Rice-Coated Pork Pearl Balls, ideal for serving at parties. There are red-cooked stewed meats and juicy Pot Sticker Dumplings. Recipes are as simple as Spinach Stir-Fried with Garlic and Salt, and as complex as Pressed Birthday Duck, which takes up to four days to make and involves three cooking techniques. The dishes come from various regions of China, with an emphasis on those with bold flavors. Tropp adds technique notes to her already detailed instructions, and even recommends what serving dishes to use, whether to heat them, and the best wines to accompany dishes. Ultimately, the wealth of information, Tropp's charming voice, and the creative touches she adds in crunchy Cinnamon Bark Chicken, Ginger-Infused Crème Caramel and other recipes make Barbara Tropp's The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking a necessary book for anyone serious about Chinese food. --Dana Jacobi
||HarperCollins Canada / Non-Fiction
||1.9 x 7.2 x 10.1 in.
Really great Chinese cookbook that has detailed explanations.
Posted by J. Wang on 6/16/2009
Barbara Tropp lived in Taiwan, where she ate and learned all about real Chinese food. Yes, real Chinese food is time consuming. Today there are shortcuts, and some shortcuts work better than others. Mom used to spend about 6 hours a day cooking (this is considered normal in Chinese families). To spend time in the kitchen to prepare nutritious balanced family meals is no small task. Needless to say, I grew up on real Chinese food. I didn't get a chance to learn all of Mom's cooking before she moved on, and this book managed to fill in the gaps. Barbara's explanations are great because she starts from the point of view of a beginner, explaining everything in detail. I really like that. It is those tips (usually considered to be common knowledge, and therefore skipped by many cookbooks) that makes the difference. I wholeheartedly recommend this book.
I find that many people today don't want to spend time to prepare meals that have nutrition. And Americans don't spend enough time eating at the dinner table. Some American friends I know spend only 15-20 minutes eating dinner, just chowing down, not appreciating the food. Real food takes time to prepare from scratch.
I personally believe that real food made from scratch is nourishing, the way God intended for us to eat. We are meant to enjoy our food - eating with pleasure and relish, that's the way God intended for us. If we are meant to eat just for nutrition, why do we have taste buds and different tastes? There's no point in that if we are not meant to enjoy food. And if God meant for us to enjoy what we eat, we should spend at least 40-50 minutes per meal eating. It takes that long to thoroughly chew our food, tasting each bite, and enjoy. It is the enjoyment, appreciation, and thoroughly chewing, that we get the maximum nutrition out of our meals.
Most food (packaged, bottled, even frozen) have so much sodium benzoate, preservatives, MSG, E221 (sodium sulphites), these are all chemicals put into the food to prolong shelf life (this is a strict mandate from the FDA - foods packaged must have preservatives). Even fresh meats that are not locally produced must have preservatives in them in order to be shipped out of state. Our population is getting sicker and sicker from all these chemicals (and creating havoc with our medical system).
So eat real food. Spend time preparing, eating. For those people who don't care about eating, don't pay any attention to this review.
WOW! I'm cooking authentic chinese dishes and loving it!
Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on 12/24/1997
Barbara Tropp is my hero! A year ago I became engaged to a lovely Taiwanese woman who expressed her desire not to become a full time cook just because she was married. This inspired me to try my hand at Chinese cooking. I began to research cook books determined to fine one written by an authentic Chinese chef. To my surprise, Barbara Tropp's name kept coming up in reviews and articles....I couldn't escape her name so I bought "The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking". It was important to me to learn "the real McKoy" because my bride-to-be would be my judge. I was completely surprized when Mary kept exclaiming over and over that "that's how they do it in restaurants back home" or "that's how my mom does it" and so on. The only draw back is that, now, to enjoy my favorite chinese dishes, I have to cook them myself. Our local Chinese restaurants do not serve most of the recipes in Ms. Tropp's book. She is clearly passionate about her subject. And as a result, so am I. This book not only teaches one how to prepair her dishes, it gives you background information surrounding them. The regions where they originated, when and how they are served. Additionally, if she make ANY changes to the original recipes, she tells you what they are. You are not only learning how to prepair delicious dishes. You are getting an education beyond the ingrediants making it possible to taylor your meals around your guests (if they happen to be Chinese). So! Now I have a new hobby which I enjoy because I'm learning to do it well, my fiance thinks I'm great because I cook for her, my friends are constantly inviting me to cook for their parties and Mary loves showing off my skills and insights to her Asian friends and aquaintences. I have enjoyed dozens of hours learning from this book and I have barely scratched the surface. I am so glad I found this site and I am happy to have an opportunity to express the joy I have had learning to cook Chinese food the Barbara Tropp way. Thanks Barbara! If your ever in the Dallas area, I would love to shake your hand. Sincerely, John Morrison.
More art than modern, more classic than China Moon.
Posted by Thomas Hull on 9/25/2000
I learned to cook from this book, and not just Chinese. Partly it's that Tropp shakes convention: I threw my wok away, learned to season fried rice with kosher salt instead of soy sauce, discovered that I didn't have to peel ginger. Partly it is that she works harder to make it easier for you to do the right things, and to understand what makes them right. And, of course, it's also because the results are just so damn good. Also, note that the emphasis here is on simple and hearty, not the nouvelle cuisine of her China Moon book and restaurant. And I did make the pilgrimage to her restaurant, but her best dishes are the ones that come out of my kitchen.