I would try your local Chinese takeaway shop, but I just know it won’t be as good as the one I go to”, complained a friend a few weeks ago on a Friday night. The undying loyalty to your local takeaway rivals little else. But, what if your homemade Chinese meals could taste even better?
For decades, many of us, from complete newbies to kitchen wizards, have shied away from cooking Chinese food for fear of not ever being able to recreate some of our favourite meals.
However, with better access to authentic ingredients, proper equipment and plenty of hacks and tips from the best chefs in the business, cooking Chinese food is becoming easier and more accessible.
As the country with the largest population in the world at 1.4 billion people and sized at almost 10 million km squared, Chinese food is incredibly varied based on regions and traditions. Whilst it therefore can be daunting to know where to start, it also makes this cuisine an exciting and adventurous one with plenty of recipes for whatever your taste buds demand.
So whether you’ve never cooked Chinese food before (and rely on your local takeaway for a chow mein) or you’re a culinary master in the cuisine, we’ve rounded up eight of the best Chinese cookbooks on the market.
China The Cookbook
Best for: an overview of chinese food
Hailed by many as the Chinese cookbook, this book features 650 recipes from 33 regions in the country. Not only is it beautifully illustrated, but the authentic dishes are sure to immerse you in Chinese food and history as recipes are written in full Chinese script and English translation. The book is written by husband and wife duo Kei Lum Chan and Diora Fong Chan and is inspired by extensive travels around all of China.
Dumplings and Noodles: Bao, Gyoza, Biang Biang, Ramen – and Everything in Between
Best for: traditional cooking techniques
Despite being a dumpling lover I must admit I have never attempted to make these hearty pockets of deliciousness as they have appeared overly intricate and delicate. But with the step-by-step guide provided in Dumplings and Noodles, mastering the art of dumpling making has never been easier. The detailed instructions, clear photographs and helpful tips along the way makes this book a staple for all Chinese food lovers.
Chinese Takeaway Cookbook: From Chop Suey to Sweet ‘n’ Sour, Over 70 Recipes to Re-create Your Favourites
Best for: homemade Chinese takeaway
Saving your pennies doesn’t mean compromising on your favourite takeaway classics as this book features 70 of the best loved dishes. The food is simple to make and inspired by Kwoklyn’s family’s Cantonese restaurant which he grew up working in. What’s more is that most recipes in this book take 20 minutes or less so it will take you less time to whip up these dishes in the evening than waiting for the takeaway delivery to arrive.
Asian Green Everyday Plant-Based Recipes Inspired by the East
Best for: vegans
The beauty of Chinese food is its versatility and with versatility comes plenty of options meaning vegans need not feel left out of cooking such an amazing cuisine. This vegan cookbook focuses on healthy yet delicious meals that use fresh fruit and vegetables to create traditional dishes from all over China.
Taste Tibet: Family recipes from the Himalayas
Best for: a different take on Chinese food
Despite traditional Tibetan food dating back over 8,000 years, this cuisine remains relatively unknown and is overshadowed by mainland Chinese dishes. However, this cookbook unearths the secrets of the nourishing and simple cuisine in 80 recipes. As well as featuring hearty soups, stews and noodles it also explores the history and culture of such an amazing country.
The Noodle Cookbook: 101 healthy and delicious noodle recipes for happy eating
Best for: noodles (obviously!)
Gone are the days when the only way to eat noodles was by adding water to a plastic pot. The Noodle Cookbook features plenty of recipes which, despite using few ingredients, are absolutely delicious. Most recipes can also be adapted for vegans and veggies and include gluten free options, making these recipes perfect for everyone in the family.
To Asia, with Love: Everyday Asian Recipes and Stories from the Heart
Best for: family friendly meals
It can be difficult to create meals to please the entire family without spending all day in the kitchen. This bestselling cookbook by Hetty McKinnon achieves just this as she creates traditional vegetarian dishes in non conventional ways. Her may Asian salads including Smashed Cucumber Salad and Finger-lickin’ Good Edamame Beans make this a perfect cookbook for summer and outdoor dining.
Best for: creative dishes
This cookbook comes from one of the Great British Menu chefs and owner of the famous Lu Ban restaurant in Liverpool, Dave Critchley. His first cookbook, Critchley reflects on his experiences at Lu Ban and the guidance he received from one of China’s greatest chefs, Master Wu. The book features gorgeous combinations of flavours and even more amazing food presentation.