Cookbook Review: Double Awesome Chinese Food
Double Awesome Chinese Food is a modernized take on classic Chinese dishes by the trio behind Boston’s Mei Mei restaurant; Andrew, Irene and Margaret Li. The awesome folks at TLC Book Tours sent me over a copy to review, and I’m excited to share my thoughts with all of you.
WHAT’S INSIDE Double Awesome Chinese Food has 8 chapters of recipes, with an emphasis on family-style eating. The introduction to the book thoroughly reviews the primary ingredients used in Chinese cooking. The type of ingredients that might some unfamiliar to most American homecooks. At the end of the book, there is also a list of resources for finding those ingredients in case your local market doesn’t carry them. Andrew, Irene and Margaret Li really focus on the use of fresh, naturally-sourced ingredients and in-season produce. This is mentioned throughout the book. This cookbook has a lot of full-page photography and even some step-by-step photos. Additionally, the book has a fun section that teaches everything you need to know to host a dumpling-making party!
EASE OF USE The chapters make sense, and it was easy for me to filter through which recipes I can make kosher. The inclusion of a recipe guide at the beginning is so smart. It demystifies the ingredients and makes them sound both delicious and accessible.
For my review, I decided to make the Sesame Ssam Jang Brisket Lettuce Wraps, page 163. The recipe itself recommends a couple other recipes to use for toppings, so I made those as well! White Rice, page 14 Soy Aioli, page 23 Cabbage Pickles, page 25 I had no trouble finding the ingredients at my Kosher market.
The lettuce wraps recipe was easy to follow and simple to make. Combined with all the sides, the meal was quite a bit of work to prepare as a whole. But everything was delicious. The effort I had spent turned out to be well worth it. My family devoured it, even the kids. The meat was tender and rich with complex flavor. The sides were a perfect balance to the richness of the meat. The acidity of the cabbage pickles, the crisp of the lettuce, and the creamy salty flavor of the soy aioli created a burst of textures and flavors in every bite.
WHAT I LIKE I love the creative use of techniques and flavors to bring traditional Chinese dishes onto American tables in a new and fun way. I enjoyed the educational bits throughout. I think having cultural information makes the recipes more accessible for cooks that might not be as adventurous as others. The photography is beautiful, and they shared a lot of pictures of people and family. I like how this accompanies their personal story. I also love the commitment to using natural, fresh ingredients.
WHAT I DON’T LIKE Though many of them do, not every recipe has a photo of the finished product. I personally like to see what I am going to be making. Those pictures help me choose a dish that looks yummy to try, and I like to know what I’m striving for. The description of how to make each recipe is very well written and understandable, but I don’t care for the paragraph form for recipe instructions. I’d much rather see clearly defined steps.
CONCLUSION This is the best Chinese-American cookbook I have had my hands on! This book stays true to Asian ingredients and techniques but makes them accessible. The recipes are modernized, bright and fun. Though this book is NOT KOSHER, there are many recipes within it that can be made in a kosher kitchen. (I highly recommend the Sesame Ssam Jang Brisket Lettuce Wraps!) The food is delicious, and the recipes are friendly and easy-to-follow. You can buy Double Awesome Chinese Food right here. If you use this book in your kitchen, let me know! Send me a picture and be sure to tag me on social media, #bethemasterofmealtime You can also follow the authors @meimeiboston on Instagram. If you like my content, please subscribe and follow me on Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.