Both the Jews and the Chinese have long culinary traditions. Jewish communities existed in China during the Middle Ages, so it is not surprising that Jews developed an interest in the local cuisine. Donald Siegel, a professor of earth sciences at Syracuse University who loves Chinese food, has written a cookbook that offers a wealth of kosher Chinese recipes. He begins with an introduction to Chinese cuisine, explaining the regional variations and the evolution of cooking during the Chow Dynasty. He discusses the Jewish experience in China and the American-Jewish-Chinese connection before proceeding to Chinese cooking techniques. The recipes include soups, appetizers (dim sum), noodle and rice dishes, and entrees. Meat, fish, poultry, and vegetarian dishes conforming to the rules of kashrut will please any cook who wants to add Chinese food to his/her repertoire. Chicken soup, ants climbing a tree, and steamed fish with ginger and scallions are a few examples. Information about kosher Chinese products and a brief explanation of kashrut will aid non-Jews and those unfamiliar with the tradition. This book would be a wonderful addition to any kosher cook’s library.
Barbara M. Bibel is a librarian at the Oakland Public Library in Oakland, CA; and at Congregation Netivot Shalom, Berkeley, CA.