Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Chinese Cook Book

A while back my dear friend Stephanie gave me a cookbooklet that belonged to her aunt Gingie, The Chinese Cook Book (1936). When she handed it to me, I was surprised to find that I didn't recognize it. It clearly says "culinary arts tested" on the front and on the back it says "Culinary Arts Press, America's Largest Cook Book Publisher," located in Reading, PA. Frank Daniels on his cookbook website says that this is a precursor to The Culinary Arts Institute books I know and love.

There are lots of interesting recipes. It took me forever to figure out what "Chinese Sauce" was, but then I read the introduction and it says that is soya sauce. Duh. It's an old cookbook so all of the recipes are written in paragraph-long narratives. One that struck me was CHINESE PINEAPPLE SALAD: Boil one pound bean sprouts in pineapple juice. Cover with mayonnaise dressing, flavored with Chinese sauce. Sprinkle with chopped nut meats and garnish with sliced kumquats or crushed pineapple. (Doesn't sound too authentic to me.)

This evening I made radish salad. It looked pretty tasty.

RADISH SALAD: Wash and trim with care one dozen fresh radishes: do not peel, but cut in half. Lay the halves face downward on a clean table or board and lightly crush each piece with the flat side of a knife or some other heavy instrument. Make a sauce of one-half teaspoon of vinegar, one-half teaspoon of sugar, one-half teaspoon of soya sauce, and one-half teaspoon of olive oil. Place the halves face downward in the sauce, and let them remain thus 15 minutes before serving.

Although this sounded easy, I found myself stuck at a particular part of the recipe. After I'd cut all the radishes, I pressed down on one with the side of the blade to crush the radish. It didn't crush. I got a bigger knife. It didn't crush. I pounded it with the butt end of a good sized chopping knife. It didn't crush. I chose not to crush the radishes. They tasted pretty good. Nothing spectacular. Usually I serve my radishes on a bed of coarse salt. And if you didn't notice by my profile picture, I prefer them to look like rodents.

No comments: