Chinese cooking in recent years has become very popular in America, and certain Japanese dishes are also in high favor. The restaurants are no longer merely the resort of curious idlers, intent upon studying types peculiar to Chinatown, for the Chinese restaurants have pushed their way out of Chinatown and are now found in all parts of the large cities of America. In New York they rub elbows with and challenge competition with the ...
Chinese cooking in recent years has become very popular in America, and certain Japanese dishes are also in high favor. The restaurants are no longer merely the resort of curious idlers, intent upon studying types peculiar to Chinatown, for the Chinese restaurants have pushed their way out of Chinatown and are now found in all parts of the large cities of America. In New York they rub elbows with and challenge competition with the finest eating palaces. Their patronage to-day is of the very best, and many of their dishes are justly famous.
There is no reason why these same dishes should not be cooked and served in any American home. When it is known how simple and clean are the ingredients used to make up these Oriental dishes, the Westerner will cease to feel that natural repugnance which assails one when about to taste a strange dish of a new and strange land.
Bread, butter, and potatoes are never used by the Chinese or Japanese. Tea is drunk plain, with neither cream nor sugar, but great care should be used in its brewing. Rice is indispensable, and should be cooked in that peculiarly delectable fashion of which the Oriental peoples alone are past masters. The secret of the solid, flaky, almost dry, yet thoroughly cooked rice lies in the fact that it is never boiled more than thirty minutes, is covered twenty minutes, never stirred nor disturbed, and set to dry on back of range when cooked, covered with a cloth. Mushy, wet, slimy, overcooked rice is unknown to the Chinese and Japanese. Sweetened rice, as in rice pudding and similar dishes, is unknown. Rice takes the place of such staples as bread and potatoes. Syou, sometimes called Soye, is similar to Worcestershire and similar European sauces. In fact, the latter are all said to be adaptations of the original Chinese syou, and most of these European sauces contain syou in their makeup. It lends a flavor to any meat dish, and is greatly esteemed by the Oriental peoples.
In China, with the exception of rice, bonbons, and so on, food is served in one large dish or bowl, out of which all eat, using the chopsticks. Considerable etiquette governs the manner of picking desired morsels from the main bowls. In high-caste or mandarin families a servant has his place at the foot of the table, but he stands throughout the meal. It is his duty to serve at the table the portions from the main dishes to each individual, and to do what the host generally does for the comfort of those at table. The other servants waiting on table take their orders from him, and he is really there as a sort of proxy for the host.
In Japan, individual meals are brought in on separate trays to each person. All sit cross-legged upon the floor before their trays. The Japanese consider it gross and vulgar to put food in quantity upon the plate. The portions are very small, the largest being about the size of an egg. There is a striving for daintiness and simplicity.
For this book only such Chinese and Japanese dishes have been selected as would appeal to the Western palate, and which can be prepared with the kitchen utensils of Western civilization. Many dishes prepared by the Chinese cooks in this country are only modifications of their native dishes. Recipes for the same dish, obtained from different parts of China, vary considerably. The combinations here given are those which experience has proved most easily prepared and most palatable.
The authors advise any one who intends to cook "Chinese" to go to some Chinese restaurant and taste the various dishes he desires to cook. A good cook always should know what a dish tastes like before he tries to cook it. All cooks can tell how the taste of a strange dish reveals to him many things, and it is often possible to guess of what the dish is composed.
No cookbooks, so far as the authors know, have ever been published in China. Recipes descend like heirlooms from one generation of cooks to another. The recipes included in this book (the Chinese ones, that is) have been handed down from Vo Ling, a worthy descendant of a long line of noted Chinese cooks, and himself head cook to Gow Gai, one time highest mandarin of Shanghai. They are all genuine, and were given as an especial expression of respect by a near relative of the famous family of Chinese cooks.