Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Food: Recipes, cookbook reviews, food notes, and restaurant reviews with a heavy emphasis on San Diego. Unless otherwise noted, I have personally tried each recipe that gets its own page, but not necessarily recipes listed as part of a cookbook review.

Mimsy Review: Classic Chinese Cuisine

Reviewed by Jerry Stratton, May 23, 2001

Classic Chinese Cuisine starts with a short introduction to the “culture” of cooking and eating in China, with a little bit about each of the regions, a couple of definitions of things like black beans and bean curd, and a short paen to the wok.

AuthorRosemary Moon
Year1995
Length252 pages
Book Rating5

Rosemary Moon has edited a couple of “Classic” Asian ethnic cookbooks. I’ve seen Classic Indian Cuisine and Classic Chinese Cuisine, and both are quite good basic collections for those cultures. I can’t speak to their authenticity, but these are well-designed cookbooks with a variety of recipes from simple to “quite fiddly”. The latter is part of the description, in Classic Chinese Cuisine, of “Stuffed Snow Peas”. I haven’t tried them, but they certainly do sound fiddly, don’t they?

Rosemary Moon starts the recipes off with soups, which are typically used not as an appetizer but as a drink. “Wine, water and tea are not traditionally served in China to accompany a family meal.” You’ll find the classics such as Hot & Sour Soup, Wonton Soup, Shark’s Fin Soup--it uses Shark’s Fin, which seems quite difficult to find--and other thin and thick soups. Think of it as the “beverage” section that precedes meal recipes in “western” cookbooks.

Appetizers includes the ubiquitious Spring Rolls, the wonderfully tasty Honey Soy Chicken Wings, and a small variety of other wings, spareribs, and rolls. There are very few appetizers, and only a few more soups. The bulk of the book is in the meal recipes: Fish & Shellfish; Chicken & Duck; Pork, Beef, & Lamb; and Vegetables. Among the high points are a Stir-Fried Tofu Salad to be served cold, and an incredibly simple “Lacquered Duck”.

Following the meal recipes are a number of ways of preparing rice and noodles. Besides the standard “boiled” rice are a number of fried rice dishes and various noodle preparations. If you are a fan of bacon and spice, you’ll find “South Sea Noodles”, very satisfying, with its bacon, curry, scallions, shrimp, and Hoisin sauce.

She tops the recipes off with a good number of desserts, starting off with “Stir-Fried Fruit Salad”. There are, of course, a couple of rice puddings, a sinfully simple “Bananas Cooked in Coconut Milk”, one custard, and a “quite fiddly” Stuffed Litchis. My favorite here has to be, however, the “Peanut Butter Cake”, which is exactly what it says: an eggy cake flavored with vanilla and peanut butter.

If there is anything to complain about in this book, it is that none of the people in the illustrations, adults or children, seem to be enjoying the food they’re eating! Eating seems to be a very serious business to the illustrator, not something to be taken happily or even absently in conversation with others. Overall, however, if you have no collection of Chinese recipes and you are looking to expand your repertoire, I can strongly recommend Classic Chinese Cuisine as a good place to start.

Honey Soy Chicken Wings

  • 2 tbsp peanut oil,
  • 1 lb chicken wings,
  • ¼ cup light soy sauce,
  • 2 tbsp honey,
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds,
  • 1 clove crushed garlic,
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger,
  • ½ tsp salt.
  1. Heat a wok, add the oil, and, when hot, add chicken wings.
  2. Fry 10 minutes.
  3. Strain off excess oil.
  4. Add the soy sauce, honey, sesame, garlic, ginger, and salt to the chicken in the wok.
  5. Lower the heat and simmer 20 minutes, turning the wings occasionally.
  6. Serve hot or cold.

Classic Chinese Cuisine

Rosemary Moon

My cost: $8.00

Recommendation: Nice Recipes

If you enjoyed Classic Chinese Cuisine…

If you enjoy Asian, you might also be interested in Corn and clam soup, The Art of Korean Cooking, and The Complete Book of Oriental Cooking.