First published in 1972, The Chinese Cookbook by Craig Clairborne and Virgina Lee remains one of the best Chinese cookbooks. For many Americans, The Chinese Cookbook opened the door to a world beyond chop suey and egg foo young.”
Virginia Lee had been cooking since age seven. She observed and experimented with Chinese recipes during her extensive travels over China with her family, and after her marriage to Kuang Chao Lee, manager of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank. Due to her husband’s position and interest in fine food, many of the finest chefs in China cooked in their kitchen, and furthered her education. After coming to the United States in 1967, she quickly developed the reputation as one of America’s foremost Chinese chefs.
Over a two year period, Virginia Lee worked with Craig Claiborne in his East Hampton’s home kitchen, to clearly and explicitly explain how 250 well know Chinese dishes could be prepared by most American cooks without undue work.
The book is both thorough and easy to understand, written clearly and explicitly to educate even the novice cook. Recipes are categorized by their main ingredient (pork, chicken, beef, seafood, et cetera) with a chapter on desserts.
It provides considerable practical advice about kitchen equipment, methods, and proper cooking techniques, such as the proper ways to carve and present meat. It concludes with a detailed list and description of Chinese ingredients.