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First, let me tell you about me so that you can understand my perspectives on this book. I'm an international student from Asia. I have had many amazing home-made, authentic Chinese dishes and I have been around the kitchen helping my mom. I have some experiences in the kitchen. I do turn to my mom when asking for a recipe, but sometimes the instructions of these skilled and experienced cooks are quite vague. They don't do cups measurement. They cook and adjust the taste accordingly (yet these dishes always turn out perfect and amazing). I , therefore, also have that style of cooking and adjusting the taste accordingly, so it is quite a new thing for me to use a book in which measurements are in cups, precisely. However, being in the US, not all the ingredients are available, and sometimes it's hard to find substitutes. I bought this book because, being a college student, I truly don't have much time and money to spend on expensive and complicated dishes for everyday meals (occasionally or on weekend, yes, I can spend hours in the kitchen, but weekdays? No thanks), and I don't have close access to Asian oriental stores (the nearest one is 1 hour away from where I live).
With that, to me this is truly a book full of simple Chinese dishes with adaption to Western taste and ingredients. Having said that, that doesn't mean all dishes are adapted nor all ingredients can be found in your normal, everyday grocery stores. It helps if you live near an Asian market or oriental stores. But Kylie has made it easier by listing all the "special" ingredients right in the beginning of the book. You will need just one trip to the store to get all those authentic ingredients you need (other "normal" ingredients you can get at your grocery store).
The layout of the book is also very helpful. The book is divided into Soups, Chicken, Duck, Beef, Tofu, etc., which is very helpful if you have something in your refrigerator and want to make something with it. This is easier for me than listing the name of the dishes or categorize the dishes by appetizers, main dishes, etc. because, let's be honest, simple cooking doesn't exactly say "appetizer-main-dessert meals," and who can remember those 1000x names.
Kylie has done a great job including and adapting these Chinese dishes to be simple enough for tonight's dinner. The book is clear in explanation, easy to read, straight to the point. I have made many dishes from this book and am quite pleased. My boyfriend, who has a picky tooth, has actually requested many of the dishes I have made.
I also have The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook: 101 Asian Recipes Simple Enough for Tonight's Dinner by Jaden, and I like Kylie's Simple Chinese Cooking more because it's more authentic, covers greater amount of areas on Chinese cooking, and the dishes taste better. For the reviewer who says the recipes in this book are bland, mentioning the tofu recipe, I just want to let you know that tofu is actually kinda bland in nature. That dish's essences are in its simplicity and purity. It's a wonderful starter, kind of a comfort food for many Chinese. When you are full of those high-protein dishes, it's a bliss just to think of such pure and simple dish like this.
That being said, this book is not without fault. The degree of authenticity of the dishes in this book may disappoint readers who are looking to make truly authentic dishes (for this, I recommend Henry Chung's Hunan Style Chinese Cooking (Henry Chung's Hunan Style Chinese Cookbook) if you want authentic Chinese food. But to be fair, the purpose of this book, as stated on the title, is to create simple Chinese dishes, written to include also Western readers who do not live in Asian countries and therefore, lack the access to many ingredients. With this in mind, I cannot criticize, instead, I want to applaud Kylie for successfully encouraging many new readers to Chinese cooking, an art that requires practices, time, and experiences to acquire mastery.
The book itself is beautiful in presentation. Every dish has picture, some even have pictures to show you the skill and steps that may otherwise confuse you.
Another potential weakness of this book is, as other reviews may have pointed out, is that it's big. While that doesn't matter to me because I like to read the recipe first to capture and visualize steps that will take place, then write down the recipe on the notecard to take it with me into the kitchen, I understand it may be a minus point to other readers. But if you want a book that has pictures of the final products, actually shows you steps of how to execute those seemingly difficult skills you see at the restaurants, and won't fall apart within a few years being handled in the kitchen, this is a compromise you will have to make.
One personal disappointment though, is that the Mapo Tofu recipe in this book is not authentic :(. Kylie uses tomatoes on the dish, which I have never seen before.
All these flaws of this book can be understood, so between 3 and 4 stars, I chose to give this book 4 stars. This is not a perfect Chinese cookbook, but maybe the best out there for good and simple Chinese food. The star off is because of the degree of authenticity of the dishes in this book.
With a few potential negative points of the book, this is still a book NOT to be passed by. You have come to find this book, that means you are interested in Chinese cooking. While this book may not make you the best cook on Chinese food or the master of Chinese cooking, it's a wonderful introduction to beginners, nice addition to more experienced cooks, and helpful for experienced cooks who want to adapt Chinese cooking to everyday meals.