Taste and See: Chinese Cooking {Book Review}


It never occurred to me to think of Chinese cuisine as being somewhat intensely complex. To be honest, it wasn't how I would typically describe authentic Chinese cooking at all that is, until I read the cookbook, Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees by Kian Lam Kho. Is that not a cleverly captivating title, or what?

My childhood consisted of moving and travelling, well, to put it mildly, quite a lot. It wasn't always fun and glamorous times. In fact, the joyful bit of being in an unfamiliar territory was always finding new culinary treasures.

I was never a massive Chinese food fan until I became an adult, but my parents loved it. Visiting authentic Chinese restaurants and having a close friend whose family practically adopted me upon each visit and welcomed me with huge Chinese feasts also had a great impact on my appreciation for Chinese cuisine. Not commercial fast food or a watered down version by any means.
Cookbook reviews food blogger

Let's face it, although I am no novice in the kitchen, there's so much that I don't know especially regarding this cuisine. I believe in having the attitude of wanting to better oneself in any genre. Heightening one's scholarship is paramount for understanding—at the very least to become proficient in some way.

The Review:
Chinese cooking Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees is fun, engaging, enlightening, and extensively thorough.  The easy to follow instructions for each recipe along with brief insertions of history  provides the necessary elements needed to master the art of creating basic Chinese  cuisine. I always suggest reading a  recipe twice before actually cooking, which is a helpful  tip that my mum taught me.

 I started with cooking about six of my favourite recipes from the book but then forgot to  take enough photos, so I made three again since they were so delicious. I had most of the ingredients for the dishes that I wanted to make. Thankfully, a friend of mine allowed me to raid his chef kitchen for a couple of Chinese ingredients that I didn't have on hand because the only fermented items we have in our home is pretty much fish and soy sauce. Wait, I guess you could add sauerkraut, pickles, and yoghurt too. But, I digress.

This book is a culinary crash-course in Chinese cooking and a worthy investment for any devoted cooking novice or even seasoned home cook. Anyone who has the passion to learn authentic Chinese cooking, its diverse flavours, and the differences between its varied regions, will appreciate this book. 

Chef Kian Lam Kho celebrates primitive Chinese methods, whilst providing an in-depth understanding of basic Chinese culinary techniques. I also loved how personal the book seemed, it was a great read. You'll learn everything from the science behind stir-frying (and the "pass-through technique) to making a marbled tea egg. There were also parts where you felt that you were learning a bit more about the author the more chapters that you read.

Stunning photography accompany the book's insightful text and, quite honestly, you will find yourself not wanting to put this book down, or way too excited to grab all of the ingredients to try a new recipe.

Either way, I was pleased with this book, and believe me, I have a multitude of cookbooks of old and new. However, this is one of my first Chinese cookbooks that I can say I have enjoyed from beginning to end. This is probably because reading it feels like taking a class in a really positive way. It provides direction for a plausible result. Even though every recipe may not be traditionally for everyone's palate (if you love Chinese food it likely is), there's certainly something for everyone in the book. For example, I made a few recipes with vegetarian meat alternatives.

We're planning on making other recipes from the book, which you will likely see on my Instagram in the future.
The goods: Hardcover of Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees by Kian Lam Kho. Above: General Tso's with tofu.  All opinions and content are honestly written. *FTC disclaimer: I received this book from Crown Publishing Group. 

What do you think of Chinese food? Do you own a Chinese cookbook?


  1. My type of book I love collecting cookbook to try recipes I enjoy this post very much.

  2. Fab review! Love Chinese food :)