Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook

A Book Review by Franz Scheurer


When Fuchsia Dunlop published her incredible book on Sichuan cuisine I spend weeks mesmerized by her talent to bring the flavours, textures and methods to life. I savoured every page and tried a lot of the recipes, all of which worked. Now she has released the Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook, a tribute to the Hunan Province with a balanced look at the late Chairman Mao and his tastes. Again, she manages to animate the people, paint a definite picture of the region and challenge your perception of the food from the region. There is so much to learn…


The book is divided into The Huanese Larder, The Arts of Cookery, Appetizers and Street Food, Meat Dishes, Poultry and Eggs, Fish Dishes, Beancurd Dishes, Vegetable Dishes, Rice and Noodles, Sweet Dishes, and all that is followed by Preserves, Stocks and other Essentials, a glossary of Chinese characters and a chapter on the main Chinese Dynasties.


The recipes are mouth-watering and challenging. I’m enamoured with the recipe for ‘Fried Cucumber with Purple Perilla’ a dish that manages to change the way we view the texture and colour of cucumbers and the purple Sancho leaves add another dimension that is both unfamiliar and enchanting. There is one recipe in the book that is described as ‘ridiculously difficult, impossibly difficult and hugely labour intensive’ and is apparently used in examinations for master chefs. It’s called ‘Yolkless Eggs with Shitake Mushrooms’ and I can think of at least three chefs that could make this dish: Tim Pak Poy, Cheong Liew and Chui Lee Luk! Hope to see it on a menu one day… Thankfully, the majority of the recipes are quite achievable and maybe it will pave the way for a Huanese restaurant in Australia. Dream on…


ISBN 0 091 90483 8


First published by Ebury Press, available through Random House Australia (Pty) Limited, 20 Alfred Street, Milsons Point NSW 2061