How to Make Chinese Food at Home: The Definitive Cookbook

New manual by Seattle writer Hsiao-Ching Chou provides an entry to Chinese cooking at home.

By Chelsea Lin February 27, 2018


This article originally appeared in the February 2018 issue of Seattle magazine.

This article appears in print in the February 2018 issue. Click here for a free subscription.

When you open Hsiao-Ching Chous Chinese Soul Food, youre immediately going to want to make dumplings. The 257-page cookbook published by Sasquatch Books ($24.95), dedicates a whole chapter to the worlds perfect food. The little dough pockets, filled with meat and veggies and pinched closed with a deft hand, are Chous signature dish, beloved by everyone she has cooked for, from Anthony Bourdain to the students who take her popular Hot Stove Society classes.

Dumplings, however, are not the easiest entry point to Chinese cooking. For the completely uninitiated, Chou recommends starting with a stir-fry. The easily adaptable dish is the kind of thing her mom made with whatever Western ingredients were available in the Missouri town they landed in after immigrating. Chou calls it an on-ramp into cooking, which is also the point of her book: to familiarize home cooks with the flavors, kitchen equipment and techniques of Chinese cooking. In addition to dumplings and stir-fries, the book has chapters on braises, soups, noodles, traditional celebratory Chinese dishes and guilty pleasures, such as crab Rangoon and General Tsos chicken.

In the local food community, Chou is well known for her award-winning work as a food writer and editor, most notably at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. The books release coincides with the 10th anniversary of Chous food blog, My Chinese Soul Food, which she started in 2007, after leaving the P-I, as a way to continue telling food stories.

Chou now works as a senior communications manager for Amazon Web Services, but the talented writer and cook cant separate herself from the food that shaped her. As the daughter of writers and restaurant owners, she tells food stories with a sort of second-nature grace youll notice it in the introduction to each chapter and see parallels in the foreword, written by her mother.

Chou had long toyed with the idea of writing a cookbook and planned to self-publish; she was already working on the book when Sasquatch came to her with a proposal. I did this all backwards, she says. Once I made the decision to write a book, it just started flowing. It needed to exist. I knew exactly what it needed to be. The timing for this book, in my life, is spot on.

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