Here we are for our first cookbook review of 2023! We decided to start this year by reviewing one of the best cookbooks of 2022, The Vegan Chinese Recipe.
When Hannah Che decided to become a vegan, she worried it would separate her from the traditions and food that her Chinese family celebrated. But that was before she learned about zhai cai, the plant-based Chinese cuisine that emphasizes umami-rich ingredients and can be traced back over centuries to Buddhist temple kitchens.
In The Vegan Chinese Kitchen, through gorgeous photography, stories, and recipes, Hannah shows us the magic of this highly developed and creative tradition in which nearly every dish in the Chinese repertoire can be replicated in a meatless way.
While most vegetarian Chinese cookbooks mainly offer veganized versions of classics, The Vegan Chinese Kitchen is meant to celebrate a “wholly different culinary tradition that’s inventive, satisfying, and delicious in its own right.”.
In this book, there are some veganized versions of classics, like Mapo Tofu and Sweet-and-sour Pork, but the main goal of this book is to dispel the common misconception of Chinese food as being meat-heavy.
In The Vegan Chinese Kitchen, you’ll find a lot of recipes that are naturally plant-based and as irresistible as they are nourishing, such as Flaky Scallion Pancakes, Corn Stir-Fried with Peppers and Pine Nuts, or Pea Shoots Braised in a velvety Mushroom Broth made with Sesame-Oil Roux.
Every recipe in the book has an accompanying full-page, beautiful photograph of the finished dish, and the instructions are clear and easy to follow. Photographs of all the finished dishes are very useful, especially for those not used to cooking Chinese food.
The serving sizes of the recipes in this book are based on the guiding principle of a Chinese meal, in which you serve enough rice for everyone to eat their fill, along with a spread of accompanying dishes.
As a rule, aim to have one dish per person, plus one extra. So, if you’re cooking for two people, two or three dishes are perfect; for four people, five dishes will be plenty. This doesn’t necessarily apply to noodle recipes or other one-dish meals (or appetizers and desserts).
Hannah has done a fantastic job in The Vegan Chinese Kitchen. The research and work for putting this book together were spots on. The recipes are very well written, with clear and detailed instructions, and the dishes are much more traditional than the ones we find in other Chinese cookbooks.
If you are looking for a vegan Chinese cookbook, don't look any further because it'll be challenging to find a better cookbook than The Vegan Chinese Kitchen.
The Vegan Chinese Kitchen is a book that will delight vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores alike, inviting you to explore a whole world of flavors and ingredients.