One thing I love about cookbooks is that they all tell a story. By reading about the food a person chooses to tell us about you learn about who they are as well. I love it when I can pick up a cookbook and read it from cover to cover! Feeding the Dragon takes this one step further.
Part cookbook, part travelogue, Feeding the Dragon is the story of Mary Kate and Nate, a brother and sister who spend time travelling through China learning to cook great Chinese food, taking pictures, and recording stories from the wonderfully diverse regions of China.
If you love learning about new food or new places, you’ll love this book. It’s divided by area, so they can highlight the food by region, since each one has it’s own distinct style. They also have a handy list of foods by category, so you can look recipes up that way too. In the back of the book they have a lot of Chinese cooking basics – how to make stir-fry, fold dumplings, and use chopsticks. The glossary is great – it has the Chinese characters in addition to the English translation, so you can take the book to Asian markets and show them what you’re looking for. They also give you possible substitutions for many items.
The pictures and stories throughout the book are amazing. You really feel as though you’re journeying through China. Mary Kate and Nate are great story-tellers! So how are the recipes? I’ve only tried one, which was delicious, but there are many that look great! This isn’t a vegetarian cookbook, but many look as though they could be easily adapted. A lot of the foods require frying (So that is why Chinese food is so good!), but it isn’t in a ton of oil. If you love recipe books that take you on a journey, you’ll definitely enjoy this one!
Stir-Fry Potatoes and Peppers
I actually had to adapt this recipe from Beijing a little bit. It called for a green pepper, and even though I had it on my list I managed to forget it. I put in a celery stalk, thinly sliced instead. They call the Beijing basic as addicting as Philly Cheese Steaks. I’ve never had a cheese steak, but these were delicious!
- 2 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced into matchsticks
- 2 T light soy sauce
- 3 T clear rice vinegar
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
- 2 T vegetable oil (I used peanut oil)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 dried red chili peppers, seeded and slivered (I used fresh Thai peppers)
- 1 small green bell pepper, seeded and slivered (I used a celery stalk)
Soak the potatoes in a bowl of cold water for 20 minutes to draw out the starch. Drain and pat very dry. Combine the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, salt, ands sesame oil in a small bowl.
Heat the vegetable oil in a wok over medium heat until a piece of a chile sizzles when added to the oil but doesn’t turn black. Add the garlic and chiles and stir-fry for 20 seconds. Add the potatoes and bell pepper and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Toss in the soy sauce mixture and stir-fry for an additional 5 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked yet still crunchy. Serve hot.
** I received a copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.