Easy Chinese Recipes: Family Favorites from Dim Sum to Kung Pao, written by Bee Yinn Low, features a collection of favorite Chinese dishes perfect for beginners and those short on time. Notable recipes include Crispy Fried Wontons, Simple Egg Drop Soup, Baked BBQ Pork Puffs (Cha Shao Su), Beef with Broccoli (Xi Lan Hua Niu Rou), Shanghai Fried Noodles, and Flaky Sweet Egg Tarts (Dan Ta). I will also be sharing her recipe for Sweet Peanut Nuggets following the review.
Disclosure and Disclaimer: I received this book from Tuttle Publishing in exchange for my honest review. All comments and opinions are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Take care when eating products with glutinous rice flour, especially with young children and those with swallowing difficulties. It is incredibly chewy and can pose a choking risk.
Bee Yinn Low
Bee Yinn Low was born in Penang, Malaysia in a Chinese household. She observed her mother in the kitchen growing up, but didn’t actually start cooking until she left home for college in Kuala Lumpur.
She now lives in Southern California with her family and started her blog, Rasamalaysia.com in 2006, which is currently the largest independent Asian recipe blog online.
Easy Chinese Recipes
For those new to Chinese cooking, Bee begins with a few pages covering the basics. Cooking techniques and tips include how to tenderize meat and cut it against the grain, create shrimp with a shuang cui (bouncy) texture, deep-fry, and stir-fry. Essential tools and utensils such as steamers, strainers, and rice cookers are described. You will also learn how to season and maintain a cast iron wok.
Chapters are divided based on course: The Basics; Appetizers; Soups; Dim Sum and Dumplings; Beef and Pork; Poultry; Seafood; Vegetables, Tofu, and Eggs; Noodles and Rice; and Desserts and Drinks.
The overview of basic Chinese ingredients is particularly helpful with photos, descriptions, uses, and substitutions when available. To help build the foundation, basic recipes for sauces, steamed rice, stocks, salads, and wrappers are also included. The resource guide at the end of the book includes some of Bee’s favorite cookbooks and where to shop for ingredients and tools.
Measurements for the recipes are provided in US Customary and Metric. The name of the dish is listed in English and the original language (romanized) when applicable.
Most of the photography is by Bee. Every recipe is accompanied by a photo of the finished dish, quarter to full page. A few have step-by-step photos to show a certain fold or technique. She also touches base on the food styling and photography.
Sweet Peanut Nuggets
Bee made these Sweet Peanut Nuggets based on a Chinese recipe called Tang Bu Shuai (糖不甩). These chewy, glutinous rice balls are boiled, then coated in a sweetened ground peanut mixture. They are served immediately with even more chopped peanuts for a wonderful contrast in texture.
The base is made with a simple combination of glutinous rice flour and water. After mixing together and kneading until smooth and no longer sticky, the dough is covered with a damp cloth and allowed to rest for 30 minutes. If the dough is still too watery after kneading, add a little more rice flour. If it is still too dry and crumbly, careful add a little more water.
When not in use, keep the dough covered with a damp cloth. It will quickly dry out when exposed to air and become more difficult to work with without cracking.
Glutinous Rice Flour is made by grinding glutinous (sticky) rice into a powder. It is called glutinous rice based on the sticky texture when cooked and is actually gluten-free. I bought the rice flour from a local market with Southeast Asian ingredients and have seen it lately in the international section of some larger supermarkets. It is also available on Amazon: Dried Sweet Glutinous Rice Flour.
Looking for more recipes with Glutinous Rice Flour?
- Mochiko Chicken (Hawaiian Fried Chicken)
- Pan Sip Nueng Sai Kai (Thai Steamed Dumplings with Chicken-Peanut Filling)
- Peanut Butter Daifuku Mochi
I also made Green Onion Pancakes, West Lake Beef Soup (Xi Hu Niu Rou Geng), Honey Walnut Shrimp (Mi Tao Xia), and Tea Leaf Eggs (Cha Ye Dan).
Green Onion Pancakes are flaky little discs of dough filled with sliced green onions. I absolutely loved the texture with the crisp, lightly fried exterior and soft layers on the inside. Bee includes step-by-step photos to help you form the pancakes.
West Lake Beef Soup, Xi Hu Niu Rou Geng, is a light, flavorful soup from Hangzhou, China. Sesame oil marinated ground beef is cooked in a seasoned chicken broth with chopped cilantro and strands of beaten eggs.
Honey Walnut Shrimp, Mi Tao Xia, has an amazing combination of flavors and textures. I particularly liked Bee’s description: “deep-fried succulent shrimp, lightly coated with a creamy mayonnaise-based sauce, flecked with crunchy amber-colored glazed walnuts.” After making the glazed walnuts, it was very difficult to stop snacking on them while the shrimp were frying.
Tea Leaf Eggs (Cha Ye Dan) have been on my list for a while now and I am so glad I tried them. The striking marble effect is created by steeping the cracked, boiled eggs in a spiced soy and tea mixture. This particularly recipe is best when allowed to rest overnight before serving.
Easy Chinese Recipes is a great pick whether you are interested in Chinese cuisine or wanting to recreate your take-out favorites at home. Between the step-by-step photos and Bee’s thorough explanations, the dishes are made for beginners and more seasoned home cooks alike.
Having a market with Chinese ingredients nearby will be helpful in recreating a few of the recipes. Some of the more difficult to find items include garlic chives, pork belly, bamboo shoots, red finger-length chilies, plum sauce, preserved black beans, dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, Chinese broccoli, baby bok choy, tapioca pearls, red bean paste, wood ear mushrooms, and Chinese black vinegar.
Sweet Peanut Nuggets Recipe
Excerpt from Easy Chinese Recipes
Sweet Peanut Nuggets
Glutinous Rice Balls:
- 8 ounces (250 grams) glutinous (sticky) rice flour
- 3/4 cup (185 milliliters) water
- Water for boiling
- 3 tablespoons roasted peanuts coarsely chopped, to garnish
- 3 ounces (75 grams) ground peanut
- 3 ounces (75 grams) fine sugar
- 2 tablespoons white sesame seeds lightly toasted
- Add the glutinous rice flour into a big bowl and pour the water in slowly, kneading it while adding the water until it becomes a dough. The dough is ready when it's no longer sticky and the surface becomes smooth, about 10 minutes. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let it rest for 30 minutes.
- Divide the dough into two equal portions and roll the portions into two cylinders. Cut each cylinder into 12 equal pieces.
- Gently roll each piece of the dough into a ball shape using both palms.
- Mix all the ingredients for the coating in a bowl until thoroughly blended. Set aside.
- Bring the water to a boil in a pot. Gently transfer the glutinous rice balls into the boiling water and boil until they float to the top, about 2 minutes.
- Remove the rice balls with a strainer or slotted spoon, shake off the excess water and then coat them generously with the coating. Garnish the nuggets with the chopped roasted peanuts and serve immediately.