Virtually every city, town and hamlet in the United States has one or more Chinese restaurants. So, why would you want to cook the dishes for yourself?
One reason is that it tastes good. Another is that it's a challenge. Easy Chinese Recipes by Bee Yinn Low (Tuttle Publishing, 2012, $24.95) is aimed at the novice cook who wants to explore what is behind what he or she eats when going out.
Frankly, it's a lot easier to call the local take-out. However, you'll miss a taste treat if you do. Low's recipes have no heavy brown sauce, nor limp onions and peppers.
Overall, the recipes are light and fresh. They just take some time and organization in, first, getting the ingredients and then, actually cooking what you've got.
Have a Chinese or a Whole Foods market nearby helps when you want Chinese rice wine and Chinese black vinegar. And, if you don't know what a wood ear mushroom or Chinese chives are, there are photographs for easy identification included in the book
Of the three recipes tested, there was one overwhelming characteristic: slight blandness. It's easy for the cook to add hot sauce, red wine or even additional sliced ginger to perk them up.
Red wine livened up "Beef and Broccoli." Extra garlic in the "Chicken with Garlic Sauce" perked that up. "Shrimp and Snow Peas" was tasty enough but needed an extra touch of pepper.
Every dish will take three or more bowls of separately chopped items which have to be added at the right moment so make sure you have enough bowls to handle the cooking.
Easy Chinese Cooking hits most of the dishes you'll find in restaurants. Sweet corn and chicken soup, delicious pot stickers, Mapo Tofu. For more adventurous cooks and eaters, there's Tea Leaf eggs, Siu Mai (seafood), and Salt and Pepper Squid. There are even desserts such as Fresh Mango Pudding and Sweet Boba Milk Tea.