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From Lokshen to Lo Mein

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From Lokshen to Lo Mein
The Jewish Love Affair with Chinese Food
The Kosher Chinese Cookbook
By Donald Siegel
Gefen Publishing House: Jerusalem and New York (2005)
ISBN: 9-6522-9357-1

Reviewed by Anna Dogole - January 2, 2006

Jews and Chinese food just seem to go well together. Why is anyone's guess? But odds are, at least in the United States, that if you find a Jewish neighborhood, you are bound to find a nearby Chinese restaurant. At first glance, Chinese food seems to be the farthest from Kosher food as possible. However, Chinese cooking is remarkably flexible and you can easily switch ingredients in almost any dish to get a certifiable Kosher product.

In From Lokshen to Lo Mein - The Jewish Love Affair with Chinese Food, Donald Siegel explores not only the connection between Jews and Chinese cooking, but also offers a wide selection of easy to prepare, authentic, and throughly Kosher, recipes that will enable you to prepare a virtual Chinese feast in your own home. Scattered throughout the text, Siegel has also included information of the Jewish - Chinese connection, tips on buying kosher Chinese ingredients, and an explanation of Chinese cooking techniques.

Siegel begins his foray into Kosher Chinese cookery, in From Lokshen to Lo Mein, with four short essays. These essays are: Building upon the foundation laid in these essays, Siegel discusses basic Chinese cooking techniques, what you will need to stock your kitchen with to create the recipes listed in the book, and some handy tips on making substitutions and creating authentic Chinese dishes. He then embarks upon the most important section of this book - the recipes.

The recipes in From Lokshen to Lo Mein are organized by category, covering the complete dining experience from Soups and Appetizers (Dim Sum) to Beef main dishes to deserts. Fish, Poultry, and Vegetarian main dishes are also covered, as are basic noodle and rice dishes such as Szechwan Noodles, Fried Rice, and Chow Mein.

There are more than 90 recipes in this book, and all begin with an easy to follow list of ingredients followed by step-by-step instructions on how to prepare the dish. Most important, the recipes are printed in a larger than normal font making the recipes easy to read when working in the kitchen. The ingredients used in these recipes are for the most part, common items stocked in most pantries, however there are some speciality items such as Hoisin sauce, Asian sesame oil, and dried Chinese chili peppers that you might have to stock up on before commencing your foray into Kosher Chinese cookery. All these ingredients should be available in most larger supermarkets. Interspersed among the recipes you'll find some intriguing tidbits of trivia related to Jewish - Chinese history and culture.

From Lokshen to Lo Mein is both an excellent Kosher Chinese cookbook, as well as an intriguing book just to read. These recipes will help you to expand your culinary repertoire and help to ensure that when your family eats Chinese food that it meets the highest standards of Kashrut. Best of all, I found these recipes easy to prepare, and all the ones I've tried so far have been very tasty!

Here's a sampling of some of the recipes that you'll find in this cookbook:
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