The Friday Five – Getting ready for the Chinese New Year


This Sunday is Chinese New Year, heralding the start of the year of the snake. Apparently the snake is considered a symbol of luck, with many believing this will be a year of prosperity and peace. Which would be lovely for all of us, and a reason to get friends together for a good meal. In the meantime, here’s five I’d choose to bring some Chinese flavours to life at home:


My China by Kylie Kwong - great cookbook gift for a food lover


My China by Kylie Kwong – this is one I nearly brought back from one of my trips to Hong Kong. This is a personal story from ancestral village in the southwest through to modern Hong Kong, this seemed to cover the gamut of Chinese cooking but obviously not in massive detail. I liked the personal anecdotes and the personal view on food.


Haute Chinese Cuisine - great cookbook gift for a food lover


Haute Chinese Cuisine from the Kitchen of Wakiya – another one from the same trip, but definitely well ahead of my current cooking standard for Chinese food. Would make a great gift for someone who is serious about Chinese food, or someone who is prepared to cook for you. Given that the restaurant is at the Gramercy Park Hotel in NYC, it may not be entirely tradtional but sure it is completely delicious.


Every Grain of Rice - great cookbook gift for a food lover


Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking by Fuchsia Dunlop – I don’t own any Chinese cookbooks, but I have read some of Fuchsia’s writing and like her style. I also like that this is focused on vegetables having the starring role, with meat and fish being secondary, a way I think many are moving to eating. And I have to admit to being intrigued, though also possibly a little revolted, by pock marked old woman’s beancurd. The mind boggles!


Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge


Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge – definitely something I’d associate with home cooking Chinese food, I had to include something about stir frying. I’ll admit this one is in just because of the title, but there are some very tasty sounding dishes like minced pork in lettuce cups and even Chinese Trinidadian chicken with mango chutney. Also ideal for dishes to be ready pretty quickly, and it includes tips on choosing and treating your wok right.


Chinese Vegetarian Cookbook


Florence Lin’s Chinese Vegetarian Cookbook – I’ll be honest, I chose this one because of all the books that came up when I searched for Chinese vegetarian food, this had the most appealing cover. It’s not very expensive, and so for something fairly specialist going onto my bookshelf, I’d take a punt.

So, I hope the year of the snake brings everyone the promised prosperity and peace, or at the very least some decent food and gatherings of friends.


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Helen Tarver

Collector of great gifts and fabulous food, mum, cake baker & eater, wine opener. I write about food and the gift of it in its many forms.

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