Saturday, November 19, 2011

Black Bean Sauce Chicken and Easy Chinese Recipes Book Review/Giveaway

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I must have told you about this little farm stand behind my house. That was one of the hidden jewels I discovered when we moved here. Although I do not necessarily like the apartment that we are living in right now but changing it would mean moving farther from my farm stand and that will make me sad! But anyway, the other day I stopped by the place to pick up a few things and found these little cuties. At first I was not sure what they were but when the lady told that they are bell peppers and I was surprised. They sure looked like miniature bell peppers and definitely tasted 10 times better than the gigantic ones I get from the super market.

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Since then I have roasted them, baked them, stir fried them and have used them for several recipes from Bee from Rasa Malaysia's book Easy Chinese Recipes. Out of all those Homestyle Chow Mein Noodles and Black Bean Sauce Chicken has been our family favorite. And by family favorite I mean the little picky eater in the family cleans up the plate in 15 minutes if that's for dinner so you can imagine it must be good. Its very easy to cook as well, or maybe its the way Bee has explained everything in the book that it looks super easy.

Growing up in India I was more used to Indo-Chinese food (yes, a cuisine like that exists and I will get to that some other time). The real Chinese food (or that's what I believe) I ate when we moved to the US. But still it was mostly limited to take outs or once in a while, a nice splurge at this fancy Chinese restaurant that we would go to. Then an year later we went to Hong Kong on a trip and I think that's when we really got to know more about the whole cuisine and the rich history and culture behind it. Then fast forwarded a few more years and I started food blogging. I remember those were the first couple weeks of me being a blogger that I discovered Rasa Malaysia and I said to myself, "this is how you make a foreign cuisine look not so foreign to everyone!". In the past year and half I got to know more of Rasa Malayasia and became friends with Bee.

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I don't think I need to say anything about Rasa Malaysia because the whole world knows that it is one of the most popular Asian food blogs but I sure want to say about Bee as a person. She is warm, always supporting of others and she knows a hell lot about Asian cuisine! Bee recently came out her first cookbook Easy Chinese Recipes. As the name suggests and as Bee's background tells that with this book she has tried to get the terror out of Chinese cooking.

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I like that there's no seemingly scary recipe with a bucket list of ingredients that atleast scares me away from trying the recipe. All the recipes are very simple, with steps broken down to make them easier to understand and uses some basic Chinese ingredients many of which I could find at a normal grocery store. Some recipes were new to me and had a couple ingredients that I was reluctant to try but when I anyways tried them, really liked them and made again. I specially liked the beginning of the book where Bee in a beautiful way tells her readers about what it is like to grow up in a traditional Chinese family. That is followed by some very useful tips and techniques of cooking which might seem simple to a seasoned cook but can be very helpful to someone starting. She also in a very elaborate way explains things like basic tools and utensils used and also several sauces and spices which are an integral part of Chinese cooking.

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All in all I really liked the book and guess what, almost all the photography in the book is done by Bee as well which again is gorgeous and adds to the whole homey feel of the book. So I can say that she has put in a lot of effort into the book and it clearly shows through its each an every page. If you are someone like me who likes a good Chinese food but tongue twisting and intimidating names of techniques and ingredients kept you from doing so then you should buy this book. It will help you!

Well Bee is helping make it a little easier for you because she is giving away a copy of her book to one lucky Indian Simmer reader. All you have to do is just leave a comment below and share your experience with Chinese food or cooking and get a chance to win a free copy of Easy Chinese Recipes. Entries to the giveaway will be open til next Friday, 25th Nov. and I will announce the winner in my Saturday, Nov. 26th post. Giveaway open to US residents only.

Now the recipe for Black Bean Sauce Chicken: 
Ingredients: Serves 2

8 oz (250gm) skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized cubes
1 tbsp Chinese rice wine or sherry
1 tsp cornstarch
2 1/2 tbsp oil
One 1 inch (2.5cm) piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into thin pieces
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tbsp fermented black beans (douchi), rinsed and coarsely chopped
1/2 small green bell pepper, deseeded and cut into pieces
1/2 small red bell pepper, deseeded and cut into pieces
1 red finger- length chili, deseeded and cut into pieces
1/2 small onion, quartered
Salt to taste

Sauce:
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp sesame oil
3 dashes white pepper
2 tbsp water
1 tsp cornstarch

Method:
Tenderize chicken according to the tips on "how to tenderize meat' section in the book. (This works!)
Marinate the chicken with the rice wine or sherry and cornstarch. Set aside for 10 minutes.
Mix all the ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl. Set aside.
Heat 1/2 tbsp of the oil in a wok or skillet over high heat. Add the chicken and stir-fry until half-cooked or the surface turns opaque. Dish out and set aside.
Heat the remaining oil in a wok or skillet over high heat. Add the ginger and garlic, stir fry until they turn light brown. Stir in the fermented black beans, peppers, red chili , and onion. Stir0fry until aromatic, about 1-2 minutes.
Return the chicken to the wok or skillet, stir and blend well with all the ingredients in the wok, about 1 minute. Add the sauce and continue stirring until the chicken is cooked through. Add salt to taste. Dish out and serve immediately with steamed rice.

81 comments:

  1. A lovely book and delicious dish! I am a big fan of black bean sauce and Chinese food.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  2. This book looks great! My family has a weekly tradition of going to dim sum about every other week, but because of where we live it's a 1.5 hour hike one-way to get to the restaurant. I'd love to have this cooking book so we can try doing this at home.

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  3. When I lived in Portland, OR and Denver there were great Chinese communities that I could visit for traditional dim sum and great food. Now in North Carolina I think I am going to have to learn to cook my own Chinese food. This book looks like a great way to start!

    Thanks!

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  4. Knowing the ingredients to use makes such a difference -- the right fermented black beans or dried mushrooms add so much umami to chinese cooking. I experiment a lot with these ingredients, but would love to make some recipes from the cookbook

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  5. Our Chinese cooking is limited to take-out. That's a shame, I know.

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  6. Those little bell peppers look so beautiful! We get tiny little bell peppers in local markets here which are green in colour and they taste great!
    Beautiful photos and writing once agian :)

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  7. I been following her blog forever...and have her book on my wish list... maybe I'm lucky enough to win it here!

    We have a couple of good chinese restaurants here in Tampa.. and it just seem easier to go there to eat the food than making it at home.. which I know totally is not the case...

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  8. Such a great giveaway- I've been wanting to delve into Asian cooking, but have always been a bit intimidated!

    One of my best friends [we even share a birthday!] is Chinese and always invites me over for dinner. I love it. One of my favorite meals though is Chinese Hot Pot. Nothing compares to everyone crowding around a table of simmering broth and having her mom dip random assortments of meat and vegetables in it and crowding my plate with them. I never leave hungry.

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  9. Lovely photos! I tried the recipe and it came out perfect. I put her book on my Xmas wishlist.

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  10. My mother is from Singapore and the food she cooks is very similar to the food Bee cooks and so when I found her blog, many of the recipes reminded me of some of the favorites I grew up with. I've had success with all of the recipes of hers that I've tried. She's a fantastic cook!

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  11. Thank you for a great giveaway! I love chinese food...i grew up in Malaysia. A family favorite is shrimp noodle stir fry (with lots of veges). Sally

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  12. After my aunt and uncle adopted a daughter from China eight years ago, and another in April, my family has done a lot to learn more about Chinese culture, food and cooking. It's been a delicious ride, and I can't wait to celebrate at our Chinese-themed Christmas this year!

    Cheers,

    *heather*

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  13. My first experience tasting Chinese food was many years ago when I was in Okinawa, Japan! I've since become a fan of all cuisines of the world! (dorotheaspears964@hotmail.com)

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  14. Thanks for the great giveaway! I have been dying to try my hand at chinese cooking.

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  15. Great Giveaway! Chinese food is one of my favorites....

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  16. I've spent some time in China and had the opportunity to take a short cooking class. It was a lot of fun and my husband and I love to cook Chinese food at home. We're always interested in expanding our Chinese recipe collection!

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  17. I grew up in Singapore and loooove authentic Chinese food but haven't had much look cooking it at home. Would love to try out the recipes in the book!

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  18. You know I have started cooking Indian food and now it would be great to dip into some Chinese! This recipe looks yummy!

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  19. Rasamalaysia has always been my favourite go to destination for Oriental cuisine. I made several noodles dish from there. this easy chicken looks awesome...am sure my 2 and half year old will cherish this too.

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  20. I love to cook Chinese dishes. My children love to help cook and eat it. Their favorite thing to cook is dumplings; they have such a good time filling them.

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  21. My husband makes a mean Hot & Sour Soup!

    adb6{at}humboldt{dot}edu

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  22. I love Chinese food and I cook Chinese food at least 5 days a week. :) Since many Chinese dishes are fast and quick in the cooking process, especially stir fry, it's important to have all the ingredients, seasoning, sauces and cooking utensils, and even serving plate ready before you start. :) This cook book sounds wonderful and I always love to learn more easy Chinese home cooking.

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  23. So many memories and experiences with Chinese food & cooking! My grandma makes a lot of traditional Chinese dishes, and my family has our favorite go-to Chinese restaurants..we're regulars! I love dim sum, too. I just bought a new wok, and my pantry is filled with Chinese ingredients. I'm ready for new recipes :)

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  24. When I first started experimenting with Chinese cooking, it was impossible to find any ingredients in my town. The grocery stores didn't have "ethnic" aisles yet and my town had little in the way of an Asian population. Then I discovered that a nearby "Chinese" restaurant (actually run by a Korean family) had a tiny grocery store attached to it. Inside, they stocked the ingredients to all kinds of Far Eastern cooking, but none of the packaging was in English and the proprietor's English was decidedly lacking. I learned a lot about improvisation from the purchases I made there, and in all the years I frequented the place, I never saw another customer.

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  25. I started cooking Chinese food in 1980, when my boyfriend (now husband of 30 years!) and I thought it would be a fun project. I've still make some of our favorite recipes fairly regularly, but I'm in a rut. Maybe a new cookbook will help dig me out of it.

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  26. I love to cook Chinese food, and Rasa Malaysia is one of my favorite places to find new recipes! I'm excited to try the one you've shown here and I can't wait to see the rest in the book.

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  27. I would love to learn how to make authentic veggie Chinese dishes such as bok choy and black mushrooms.


    binsyg@gmail.com

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  28. I wish I could cook more authentically Chinese recipes! I've got a few good stir-fries down, but that's about it.

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  29. My husband loves Chinese food! I would love to cook him a special meal:)

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  30. I'm a terrible cook by any standards, but I love Rasa Malaysia's blog and book - even I can make food that looks and tastes CHINESE! I'd love to another copy to give as a gift; thanks for the chance to win. :)

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  31. Love Chinese food! Would rather go out and eat it but can't afford that daily! LOL

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  32. I love your story about living by the market- I've always wished I could shop daily for fresh ingredients. Maybe some day... In the meantime, we love to travel and experiment with new foods. We eat at local hangouts and often order by pointing at what looks good! We're always trying to bring a little of our memories home by trying to cook what we ate. I'd love a copy of Bee's book to help me along!!

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  33. I only started to pay attentionto cooking last July because I wanted to document all my mum's recipes. She is Cantonese she cooks all kinds of Chinese cuisine. In the processing of documenting her recipes I develop a passion for cooking Chinese cuisine. My mum has cooked for me for almost half a century and now it is time I cook for ger for the rest of her life and loving it.

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  34. I love to cook Chinese and I LOVE your recipes.

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  35. Looks absolutely amazing!! Can't wait to see the rest of your lovely recipes!!

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  36. I have always loved Chinese food but was always afraind to try cooking it. Someone got me a cookbook that had a recipe for a cooked chicken dish and required a wok to fix it. I asked for the wok for Christmas and received one. I tried the dish the first time a few years ago but got my oil tooo hot and almost burned my apartment down!!! oops! I tried the recipe the next day and it turned out pretty good. I was officially hooked. Now I try recipes all the time and have come to love bamboo shoots in everything! I am always looking for a new authentic cookbook! Julie Baldwin

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  37. I'm constantly trying to figure out how to find or recreate dishes from my childhood summers in Taiwan when my grandmother would cook for us!

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  38. thanks for the chance. i am a filipino and chimese foods are close to my heart. i would love to learn to cook lots of chinese dishes in the future.

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  39. Lovely! I can't wait to try this recipe!

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  40. I'd love to win a cookbook. I love cookbooks! Dee

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  41. Mmm, black beans are my lifeblood; I love finding new ways to cook with them! Everything you seem to post from Malaysian rendang to Nyona cuisine is amazing. I would love to get my hands on one of your cookbooks!

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  42. Love all her recipes, would love to win the cookbook to add to my collection! My kids love the dishes too!

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  43. I have made several of Bee's recipes....yummy. This black bean recipe looks super yummy and healthy. Would love to win!!!

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  44. Oh i have made several of Bee's recipes and they are always good. Living in Asia it always taste different there. Chinese food in the US is very different depending on where you go even east/west coast is very different. Then Chinese food in Hong Kong vs. some other part of China are even different too. I prefer the Hong Kong type chinese food that is less fried and greesy. The east coast chinese food is the worst very greazy and lots of deep fried stuff.

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  45. Always been afraid to try at home, but the detail of the steps and pictures make me think I could actually do it myself.

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  46. Your recipes look great!!!

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  47. would love to win this book.I love trying to cook real authentic style chinese dishes.

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  48. The chicken looks delicious! I adore chinese food and would love to win :)

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  49. lightspeedv@gmail.comNovember 21, 2011 at 2:07 PM

    Yummy!!!!! I use recipes from your Rasa Malaysia blog. I would LOOOOOOVE to win your recipe book.

    Thank you.

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  50. I LOVe your blog and have tried quite a few of your recipes, and they always turn out fab!

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  51. Love to have the book<3
    winnatorvik@hotmail.com)

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  52. I haven't ventured into cooking Chinese food yet because I'm a little intimidated by the ingredients! But I fell in love with real Chinese food when I went to China, so I would love to have a cookbook that makes Chinese cooking simple!

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  53. Love Chinese food....Love kung-pao and those delicious buns and bakes from 85degC. Would love to win this book....

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  54. I would love to win this book!

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  55. I used to live in Taiwan, and no matter how hard I try, I just can't make homemade Chinese taste the same. This book would be the thing to help me.

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  56. Cooking is what I love to do, and I enjoy cooking Chinese food. I usually read food blog to get inspiration on what to cook, and I really enjoy reading Rasa Malaysia's blog. The recipes are easy to follow and I am glad that now I get to know another very nice food blog :) Thank you!

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  57. I would love to win this book. I am Chinese but can not speak Chinese and cannot cook Chinese food. This book will help me to cook Chinese food.

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  58. I queued this book in my local library and recently, I borrowed it. I read it while having sushi with my husband, while waiting for my son to get off school. I would love this for a present :)

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  59. I eat out all the time and a server recommended i try a new dish. So glad i did! Honey walnut prawns has been my favorite ever since.

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  60. i like to cook chinese food and would love to have this cookbook!

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  61. Your recipe book looks amazing! It would be a good one to have! :)

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  62. Young and talented Malaysian cook. Simple and down to earth recipes!!

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  63. Have always love to try new things and your recipes are really useful. I want this!!

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  64. Hi Prerna - I absolutely love your blog but it is so sad that these wonderful wonderful giveaways are only for those in the U.S. When will the Goddess smile on those here in India? I will be waiting! :)

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  65. Your beautiful cookbook is one Bible for all recipes. i have found your cookbook beautifully layout with tastefully sharing ingredients.

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  66. What a great recipe! I have been trying to learn how to cook Chinese food but my attempts, while good, are missing the mark....I definitely need to get better so that I can keep my wallet from getting lighter going out for Chinese food every time!

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  67. Hi Prerna, I chanced upon your blog while browsing through Soma's ecurry.com a couple of weeks ago, and have bookmarked it as a new favorite go-to for Indian recipes. You and Bee are presenting a great opportunity here, and I thank you both for that.

    Huge fans of Chinese, Japanese and South-East Asian cuisine, my husband and I stumbled upon this Oriental restaurant quite by chance Saturday night. We ordered their Stir-Fry Noodles and Golden curry (a richer variation of the Yellow Curry, I think) and were transported to another realm soon as we took our first bite. The slithering warmth of the richly tossed noodles, the subtle flavors of coconut and lemongrass in every bite of the curry with the barest hint of chillies, and the creamy goodness swirling around our tongues - we experienced unbridled 'foodgasm'. My husband was quick to tell me that it was time I learned to cook this at home, and my first concern was, "I know so little about this cuisine... where do I begin?" I am Indian and I love to cook, but so far I've only ventured into the Indian and Italian cuisine. Your book seems like the perfect answer to my question! Congratulations Bee, and Good Luck!

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  68. Love Chinese food, but have been limited to take out only. Cannot get the flavors right when I try cooking at home.
    Would love to win the book !!

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  69. Chinese Fried rice and Manchurian was my respite during college days from hostel canteen food.... I try cooking same whenever I feel nostalgic!

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  70. Being Chinese, I regularly cook Chinese dishes. I often look for new innovative ways to experiment with the more traditional dishes. Love looking for new on both Indian Simmer and Rasa Malaysia for tips and tricks!

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  71. I want to win ..i want to win !! Ok Chinese food .. what can i say about it .. I love it. We eat Chinese almost every other day and also cook Chinese at home. I have fun while experimenting with the different variety of sauce it has to offer. I am sure this book has a lot to teach and I wish to win! Crossing my fingers and toes too :)

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  72. I am a huge fan of both yours and Bee's food photos! You both have a lovely space on web.

    I too grewup with Indo - Chinese cusine, which is unique on its own. I can't compromise the taste of Indo - Chinese Manchurian Fried Rice, Chicken Manchurian and several other varities to original Chinese ones.Some of them dont even exists in real Chinese cuisine.

    Being said that, I got to learn the Chinese culture and food habits very closely when I hosted my friends (Chinese) family at my place for about 2 weeks. Friend's mom taught me ( inspite of the language barier we were able to communicate very well as we both could speak the language of Food!!) handful of family traidtional recipies. I will share those recipes in my page soon.

    I am very fond of home cooked chinese food for the simplicity of the ingrediants, easy to make and health benefits of them.

    I love to explore Bee's book!

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  73. I love Chinese food! In several visits to China I have been very lucky to try all sorts of different foods and enjoyed them all. This cookbook looks wonderful and I'd love to have it and try to recreate some of the meals I've had.

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  74. Looks like a great book with lots of fantastic looking photos and recipes.

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  75. Beautiful shots! I've tried some of Bee's recipes and they've always turned out great too!

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