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The Shun Lee Cookbook: Recipes from a Chinese Restaurant Dynasty    by Michael Tong order for
Shun Lee Cookbook
by Michael Tong
Order:  USA  Can
William Morrow, 2007 (2007)
* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

The owner of two restaurants, Shun Lee Palace and Shun Lee West, says that 'the real cooking of the regional Chinese cuisines came to America and introduced American diners to authentic Chinese dishes that are now classics found in Asian restaurant menus all over this country.' Michael Tong proclaims that Crispy Orange Beef, Lake Tung Ting Prawns, Crispy Sea Bass ... all originated at Shun Lee. And complex seasonings were introduced, that are now part of the American culinary landscape.

When Tong first came to the United States over forty years ago, selections in Chinese restaurants were limited by restaurateurs who felt they were giving the dining public what they wanted. That changed when cooks on Chinese merchant vessels jumped ship and settled in Manhattan. They changed the Chinese restaurant scene to bring the dishes of their distinct regions of China to the American palate.

The Shun Lee Cookbook is a compendium of wonderful recipes bringing favored foods to the American kitchen. Recipes to tickle the palate as well as sustain life follow sections on a glossary of ingredients, equipment, types of cooking, spices and flavorings, salted and cured meats, and condiments and sauces. Tong notes that traditional Chinese appetizers are usually cold dishes. Small hot dishes would be eaten between meals. Chicken Soong in Lettuce Wrap looks sufficiently different to warrant a taste. Scallion Pancakes sounds really very good and looks irresistible. Honey-Glazed Walnuts are a winner in my book any day.

Soups are a must with a Chinese meal. The ones offered in The Shun Lee Cookbook would start any meal off well. The dishes made with lobster would satisfy any lobster lover – even those who dislike that crustacean would be sure fall in love at first bite. I opt for the Crispy Orange Beef in the Beef, Lamb and Pork section, and Lemon Chicken sounds like it would melt in your mouth. Sweet and Sour Pork is a gorgeous dish with jewel-like colors that I can almost taste right now. Vegetables are right up my alley. How does Broccoli with Garlic Sauce strike you? Dry Sautéed Green Beans will make it to my be-sure-to-use-at-least-once-a-week list. The Noodles and Rice section offers Cold Sesame Noodles. To die for!

We Americans always look to the sweet side to end a meal. This lovely cookbook provides some really tempting recipes. Almond 'Bean Curd' and Crispy Fried Apple are my choices, but the Crepe with Almond Paste would be hard to turn down. Treat yourself and your family to an authentic Chinese meal from The Shun Lee Cookbook and wait for the raves.

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