Every Grain of Rice (Classic Cookbook by Fuchsia Dunlop)
Since completing an advanced cooking degree in China in the 1990s, Fuchsia Dunlop has written meticulously researched, authoritative cookbooks on the foods of Sichuan, Hunan and Jiangnan, teaching home cooks and chefs alike the intricacies of those cuisines. Master the recipes in those books and you could open your own regional Chinese restaurant.
But Fuchsia has also turned her attention to Simple Chinese Home Cooking, which is the subtitle of her 2013 book Every Grain of Rice. On the occasion of the book's 10th anniversary, we are celebrating by adding it to our shop as a Classic, both because it is as relevant today as the year it was written and because we continue to cook from it frequently.
Every Grain of Rice ranges all over China—from Guangdong's salt-and-pepper squid to Chengdu's fresh spring rolls to Xi'an beef potstickers—but goes heavy on the food of Sichuan, the Chinese cuisine the author first mastered and for which she is best known. The Sichuan classics are here—and not just the spicy ones—but while some of those recipes may remain unchanged from her previous books, most of the recipes here are streamlined, with fewer ingredients and fewer steps.
You'll still need a basic Chinese pantry and a specialty Sichuan pantry to cook them, but you'll do it quicker and more easily. And you won't miss out on the history of the dish and the personal details of where she ate it and which chef in China taught it to her over her many years living and visiting the country, because that is all still included.
Most notable about the book is the predominance of easy and inventive vegetable dishes, such as stir-fried cucumber and wood ear, and romano green beans stir-fried with douchi. In fact, the book is full of recipes where vegetables are the main attraction and meat plays a supporting role because that has always been how people eat at home in China.
We think of this cookbook as a grand tour of China where you have access to the kitchens of the best chefs and home cooks across the land, while Fuchsia's single-cuisine cookbooks get into the nitty-gritty in a way you could only if you lived in a single place and studied its cuisine longterm. Which suits you best? For us, the answer is both!
Publisher: W.W. Norton & Company, 2013
Format: Hardback, 351 pages
Price: $35 MSRP; $30 when purchased with our premium ingredients