A Unique Blend of Tradition: Exploring Chinese Cooking with America’s Test Kitchen

The world of American cooking has been dominated by established giants like America’s Test Kitchen (ATK). However, their latest release, “A Very Chinese Cookbook,” is a departure from their typical offerings. Packed with 100 recipes that are both authentically Chinese and creatively non-traditional, this cookbook showcases the partnership between father-son duo Kevin and Jeffrey Pang, along with ATK’s precision and meticulous testing processes.

With a touch of humor evident from the title itself, “A Very Chinese Cookbook” breaks the mold. It goes beyond the usual seriousness associated with ATK’s publications. This book is a delightful blend of insightful recipes and anecdotal stories that highlight the bond between Kevin and his father, Jeffrey. Their collaboration seamlessly merges Kevin’s flavorful writing and personality with ATK’s renowned research.

In a recent interview, the authors discuss the challenge of combining their family recipes with ATK’s emphasis on exactitude. Kevin shares the initial concern about losing the essence of his parents’ recipes when translating them into precise measurements. However, he also acknowledges that ATK’s rigorous testing methods sometimes result in even better versions of the original dishes.

Taking a fresh perspective on Chinese cooking, Kevin addresses some of the misconceptions Americans have about this cuisine. One common misconception is the belief that Chinese cooking requires inaccessible ingredients. However, with the increasing availability of Asian ingredients in local stores and online, such as dried flounder powder and dark soy sauce, this book aims to demystify the cooking process.

Additionally, the authors shed light on the diversity of Chinese cuisine, which extends beyond the popular Cantonese dishes commonly associated with Chinese food in America. They encourage readers to explore regional variations like Shanghainese and Taiwanese cuisine, proving that Chinese food is far from a monolith.

The book also delves into the unique approach to cooking vegetables and tofu in Chinese cuisine. Vegetables are prepared in different ways, altering their textures and flavors. Meanwhile, tofu, a seemingly bland ingredient, is transformed through various cooking methods like deep frying, stuffing, or steaming. Jeffrey Pang, an expert in Cantonese cuisine, recommends pairing tofu with savory oyster sauce.

One standout recipe in the book is the Homestyle Tofu, developed by ATK’s Carmen Dongo in collaboration with Kevin. The term “homestyle” carries multiple meanings, but in Sichuan cuisine, it represents comforting and familiar dishes that evoke a sense of nostalgia.

In conclusion, “A Very Chinese Cookbook” adds a refreshing dimension to America’s Test Kitchen’s repertoire. By blending tradition with innovation and debunking stereotypes about Chinese cooking, this book offers a unique perspective on one of the world’s most diverse culinary cultures. Whether you are a seasoned cook or a newbie in the kitchen, this cookbook is sure to inspire and delight with its flavorsome recipes and charming stories.

FAQ Section:

1. What is “A Very Chinese Cookbook” about?
“A Very Chinese Cookbook” is a departure from America’s Test Kitchen’s typical offerings. It is a cookbook packed with 100 authentically Chinese and creatively non-traditional recipes, showcasing the partnership between Kevin and Jeffrey Pang, along with ATK’s precision and meticulous testing processes.

2. How does “A Very Chinese Cookbook” differ from other ATK publications?
Unlike other ATK publications, “A Very Chinese Cookbook” goes beyond seriousness and incorporates a touch of humor. It blends insightful recipes with anecdotal stories that highlight the bond between Kevin and his father, Jeffrey, resulting in a delightful mix of content.

3. What are some challenges faced in creating the cookbook?
One challenge discussed by the authors is the combination of family recipes with ATK’s emphasis on exactitude. There was initial concern about losing the essence of the original recipes when translating them into precise measurements. However, the rigorous testing methods sometimes led to improved versions of the dishes.

4. Does Chinese cooking require inaccessible ingredients?
No, it is a common misconception that Chinese cooking requires inaccessible ingredients. The book highlights that with the increasing availability of Asian ingredients in local stores and online, such as dried flounder powder and dark soy sauce, the cooking process can be demystified.

5. Does Chinese cuisine extend beyond Cantonese dishes?
Yes, the book sheds light on the diversity of Chinese cuisine. While Cantonese dishes are commonly associated with Chinese food in America, the authors encourage readers to explore regional variations like Shanghainese and Taiwanese cuisine, proving that Chinese food is far from a monolith.

6. Is tofu used in Chinese cuisine? How is it prepared?
Yes, tofu is used in Chinese cuisine. The book delves into the unique approach to cooking vegetables and tofu. Vegetables are prepared in different ways to alter their textures and flavors. Tofu, a seemingly bland ingredient, is transformed through various cooking methods like deep frying, stuffing, or steaming. Jeffrey Pang recommends pairing tofu with savory oyster sauce.

7. What is a standout recipe in the book?
One standout recipe in the book is the Homestyle Tofu, which was developed in collaboration between ATK’s Carmen Dongo and Kevin. In Sichuan cuisine, the term “homestyle” represents comforting and familiar dishes that evoke a sense of nostalgia.

8. What is the overall appeal of “A Very Chinese Cookbook”?
“A Very Chinese Cookbook” adds a refreshing dimension to America’s Test Kitchen’s repertoire by blending tradition with innovation and debunking stereotypes about Chinese cooking. It offers a unique perspective on one of the world’s most diverse culinary cultures and is sure to inspire and delight both seasoned cooks and kitchen newbies.

Key Terms and Jargon:
– America’s Test Kitchen (ATK): An established giant in the world of American cooking known for its rigorous testing processes and publications.
– Authentic Chinese cuisine: Refers to cooking that follows traditional Chinese techniques and uses genuine Chinese ingredients.
– Cantonese cuisine: A style of Chinese cuisine originating from the Guangdong province of China, known for its emphasis on fresh ingredients and flavors.
– Homestyle: In the context of Sichuan cuisine, it represents comforting and familiar dishes that evoke a sense of nostalgia.
– Taiwanese cuisine: The cuisine of Taiwan, which has influences from various regional Chinese cuisines and Japanese cuisine.
– Sichuan cuisine: A style of Chinese cuisine known for its bold flavors, use of chili peppers, and unique flavor profiles.

Suggested Related Links:
America’s Test Kitchen
China Highlights
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