Helen Chen's Chinese Home Cooking by Helen Chen, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Helen Chen's Chinese Home Cooking

Helen Chen's Chinese Home Cooking

by Helen Chen

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"Why doesn't the Chinese food I make at home taste like the food in Chinese restaurants?" Now it can. Helen Chen learned how to cook simple, homestyle Chinese food from her mother, Joyce Chen, founder of the successful cookware company that bears her name.

All your favorite Chinese dishes are here — Peking Ravioli; Cold Noodles, Szechuan Style; Moo Shi


"Why doesn't the Chinese food I make at home taste like the food in Chinese restaurants?" Now it can. Helen Chen learned how to cook simple, homestyle Chinese food from her mother, Joyce Chen, founder of the successful cookware company that bears her name.

All your favorite Chinese dishes are here — Peking Ravioli; Cold Noodles, Szechuan Style; Moo Shi Pork; and Sweet and Sour Shrimp-along with new classics — Shanghai-style Pork Chops; Crystal Shrimp; and Steamed Salmon with Black Beans, And because the Chinese don't use a lot of oil when they cook at home, these dishes are far lower in fat than Chinese food served in restaurants. These recipes rely on stir-frying more than deep-frying, steaming more than roasting, and on readily available supermarket ingredients, and they use far less meat in favor of more fresh vegetables.

If you love Chinese food for its quick cooking, economy, taste, nutrition, and variety, then you'll love having Helen Chen by your side.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Once planned as a mother-daughter collaboration with author and restaurateur Joyce Chen, this comprehensive yet unassuming collection of family recipes and practices became a solo venture when the elder Chen was stricken with multi-infarct dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Attempting to offer a complete view of the Chinese cooking experience, TV and cooking school teacher Chen first outlines the ingredients and techniques of the cuisine. She then turns to recipes, which range from well-known traditional Chinese dishes like ``steamed whole fish Cantonese-style and ``Chinese shrimp chips'' to less familiar fare. Instructions are simple and clearly written; background details on the cuisine, such as the importance of pork and the serving of tea at the meal, provide authenticity. Above all, in its detailing of the differences between everyday home-style cooking and banquet preparation, the attention to traditional Chinese recipes and the acceptance of compromise in the inclusion of popular but not truly authentic recipes like chicken chop suey, the book reflects the variety and practicality that defines a family. Born of experience and balance, it is a worthy alternative to more scholarly or exotic Chinese cookbooks. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Apr.)
Library Journal
Chen is the daughter of Joyce Chen, of restaurant and cookware fame, and here she presents the homestyle dishes she grew up with. She also includes an excellent glossary of ingredients as well as clear explanations of the cooking techniques. The recipes range from well-known standards to lighter and easier versions of some classics to her mother's personal favorites, along with a selection of popular dishes from their restaurants; few are complicated, and many are quick to prepare. Nina Simonds's China Express (LJ 12/93) offers streamlined versions of many classic Chinese dishes. Chen's book, with its emphasis on homestyle cooking, is a good companion. For most collections.
Barbara Jacobs
This very gentle, knowing introduction to the simple art of home cooking, Chinese style, is made more intimate and poignant by Chen's references to her mother, family, and friends. No longer need novices fear the unusual ingredients or complicated equipment associated with this cuisine; Chen has streamlined her 200 recipes so that almost every supermarket or kitchen offers the cooking essentials. Interspersed with the explanation of techniques and the actual dishes are asides filled with did-you-know-that information.

Product Details

Hearst Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
7.29(w) x 10.30(h) x 1.08(d)

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Read an Excerpt

Cold Noodles,
Szechuan Style

Serves 6 to 8

The second time Keith, then my husband-to-be, met my mother it was her birthday. We had planned a family picnic, a sort of birthday potluck so my mother wouldn't have to cook. In honor of the special day Keith, who is not Chinese, decided to make cold Chinese noodles to symbolize long life, He was very brave — or very foolish — to try this, but everyone loved his noodles, including my mother.

Since these noodles are served at room temperature, they are ideal for picnics. Try them sometime instead of potato salad.

1 pound thin spaghetti
4 tablespoons sesame seed oil
1 whole chicken breast (about 1 pound) or about 2 cups shredded, cooked chicken
1/4 cup sesame seed paste (tahini)
2 teaspoons grated peeled gingerroot
3 teaspoons finely minced garlic
1 heaping teaspoon Szechuan peppercorns, toasted and ground
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon chili oil
3 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions, green and white parts
3 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted (optional)
Cilantro or parsley sprigs, for garnish (optional)
  1. Bring 5 quarts of water to a boil and stir in the spaghetti. Boil until tender. Do not overcook or the noodles will be mushy. Drain and rinse under cold water. Drain thoroughly, transfer to a serving platter, not a bowl, and mix in 2 tablespoons of the sesame seed oil to the keep the noodles from sticking together. Set aside.
  2. If using a whole chicken breast, put the chicken breast in a pot of boiling water. When the water returns to a boll, turnthe heat down to a simmer. Simmer partly covered, for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Drain and set out on a plate to cool. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skin and bones. Shred the meat by hand and spread over the noodles.
  3. Mix the sesame seed paste with the remaining 2 tablespoons of sesame seed oil and the gingerroot, garlic, Szechuan peppercorns, vinegar, chili oil, soy sauce, and sugar. Blend into a smooth thin paste. Pour the paste over the noodles. Reserve 2 tablespoons of scallions and 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds, if using, and sprinkle the remainder over the noodles. Toss together well. I find the best way to get the ingredients evenly mixed is to use my hands. Sprinkle the reserved scallions and sesame seeds, if using, over the top of the noodles and serve. (Or cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Bring back to room temperature and serve decorated with sprigs of parsley or cilantro.)

Kung Pao Chicken

Serves 3 to 4, or 5 to 6 as part of a multicourse meal

This is a famous Szechuan dish known as Kung Pao Chi Ting. At the time of the Qin (pronounced ch'in) dynasty, the person in change of protecting the heir apparent to the throne held the title of Kung Pao, Kung meaning castle and Pao, to protect. During one period, the Kung Pao was a man from Szechuan Province whose favorite dish was spicy diced chicken with peanuts. It came to be named after him.

1 pound skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut into 3/4-inch cubes (about 2 cups)
3 tablespoons dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon dry sherry
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame seed oil
2 to 4 dried chilies, seeds removed
3 tablespoons canola, corn, or peanut oil
1/2 teaspoon Szechuan peppercorns, toasted and ground
1 garlic clove, peeled and sliced
1 scallion, green and white parts, cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths, bulb split, plus
2 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions
2 slices unpeeled gingerroot, 1 X 1/8 inch each
1/2 cup unsalted blanched peanuts, toasted, or unsalted dry-roasted peanuts
  1. Place the chicken in a bowl. Add I tablespoon of the soy sauce, salt, and cornstarch and mix well. Set aside. Mix the remaining 2 tablespoons of soy sauce together in a small bowl with the sherry, sugar, vinegar, and sesame seed oil. Set aside.
  2. Pour the cooking oil into a cold wok or stir-fry pan and add the chilies. Heat the pan over medium-high heat and stir the peppers until they turn dark brown. Add the peppercorns, garlic, scallion pieces, and gingerroot and stir a moment or two. Mix up the chicken again and pour it into the pan. Stir briskly.
  3. After stirring for about 1 minute, add the soy sauce mixture, the peanuts, and the thinly sliced scallions. Turn the heat up to high and stir for about 30 seconds until well mixed. Remove the chilies and gingerroot, if desired. Serve hot.

Note: You may substitute 1 to 3 teaspoons crushed red pepper for the dried chilies. Add with the peppercorns, garlic, and scallions.

Helen Chen's Chinese Home Cooking. Copyright © by Helen Chen. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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