Double Awesome Chinese Food

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 05 Feb 2019

Member Reviews

This is a fun, well illustrated cookbook by three Chinese-American siblings who run a food truck and Chinese restaurant. It's full of information and recipes for basics and a variety of dishes. Our family is gluten free (I have a child who is very allergic to wheat and the rest of our family feels healthier without it, too) and I cook for vegetarians and vegan family members. Unfortunately, the book uses lots of meat and wheat, with few vegetarian or vegan recipes. Most of the recipes would not work for our family, so it wasn't a great fit for me. Folks who are looking for authentic Chinese recipes are likely to enjoy it.

My rating system:
1 = hated it
2 = it was okay
3 = liked it
4 = really liked it
5 = love it, plan to purchase, and/or would buy it again if it was lost

I read a temporary digital ARC of the book for the purpose of review.
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My husband and I have a fave Chinese restaurant — a little hole in the wall across the river in Kentucky — that serves the best sweet and sour chicken over fluffy rice. I remember when we first dated the wintry night he brought home takeout. We watched the snow fall as we tucked into this luscious meal while deepening in love. 

Reading DOUBLE AWESOME CHINESE FOOD elicits those happy memories and also kicks up the excitement level, as it offers the most delicious exotic recipes for meals sure to please him even more. It’s a new title from Roost Books, one of my absolute favorite publishers, with gorgeous design, how-to photos, and the best Chinese American fusion recipes from the famed Mei Mei Restaurant in Boston. I think we’ll celebrate his birthday tonight with Cranberry Sweet and Sour Stir-Fried Pork with Honey-Soy Glazed Roots, Carrot Chocolate Mousse for dessert, and a lovely Pinot to wash it all down. Gānbēi!

Pub Date 05 Feb 2019

Thanks to the authors, publisher and NetGalley for the review copy. Opinions are mine. #DoubleAwesomeChineseFood #NetGalley
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A beautifully composed book, full of recipes that sound absolutely amazing. A majority of the recipes seem like they are a bit out of my reach (not because of lack of specialized ingredients/equipment, more because I'm pretty lazy). This really just makes me want to venture up to Boston to visit the restaurant at the heart of this book. Definitely worth it for the cookbook enthusiasts out there.
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This is a terrific look at Asian food that is healthy and simple (relatively) to prepare.  The directions are clear and easy to understand and even though there's a certain amount of ingredients that may or may not be familiar to some home cooks, everything is carefully explained with gorgeous pictures that will help cooks figure it out.  I can't wait to try some of these recipes!
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One of my favorite things to order at our local Chinese restaurant is the scallion pancake. Flaky, greasy, salty, delicious. I could not pass up the chance to try my hand at scallion pancakes from this cookbook!  I felt more successful this time around because there are very helpful step by step photos for the recipes.

Other recipes I am interested in trying:
-Dan Dan Noodles with Crispy Pork Belly and Brussels Sprouts
-Carrot Coconut Soup
-Hot and Sour Borscht
-Harvest Moon Curry
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I haven't made any of the recipes in this book yet, but they look absolutely amazing. This is a thorough tour through some truly awesome Chinese food. Plenty of substitutions for unfamiliar ingredients, making it accessible to people unfamiliar with Chinese cooking. I'm looking forward to trying out some of these recipes soon!
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TITLE:  A Chinese-American cook book with a wholesome, conscientious, exciting, family-oriented personality

This is a fun-loving cookbook. The recipes are not always simple, but more often they are pleasantly doable. And once you develop your Chinese pantry—from recipes here or from a store shelf—more involved recipes tend to get easier and ingredient lists seem shorter. But, what’s great about this book, the recipes are unique and won’t be repeats of those found in your other Chinese cook books. There is something total happy about these three Chinese-American siblings, cooks and authors and their personable ways. And it manifests itself in the recipes in this Double Awesome book. They like to feed people and are moved to share their thoughts, their recipes, their philosophies. They are supportive, and it makes this reader want to be supportive right back at them.

There are a lot of what I call “Keeper” recipes. And a lot of great foundation recipes, good for jumping off into your own creativity. And, for those who like to read cook books, this one is just so personable! Plus, they like to combine Chinese food with cheese…..What’s not to love! With many Chinese and Asian cook books on my shelves, this one—that brings an American touch to the Chinese art of cooking—has earned a five star rating from me.

Here’s much more, if you care to keep reading, because I notice that there is no “look Inside” feature on this product page:

The book starts with a history of how Mei Mei developed and blossomed. And the story is well-told and perfectly edited to be interesting and not self-centered. Then the book quickly moves on to a great assortment of pantry recipes. Most are simple, rather than involved, and easily doable. I found the Toasted Salt and Peppercorns to be especially interesting. And I like their Chili Oil recipe. And the Honey Walnut Mayo. And the quick pickle carrots. And—hear my sigh of relief and contentment—aioli immersion blender recipes that really work every time.

And there are other pantry recipes that are “takes” on what you can easily find on store shelves, like their Apple Hoisin Sauce. So if you are feeling creative, and have the time, you can opt for the unique hoisin. But if you’re in a hurry, regular hoisin will work too. No guilt in these recipes, for not going the long route.

Even the “classic” Chines recipes seem to reflect the vibrant personalities of the Li siblings, and take on a subtle uniqueness.

For instance: The Beef and Broccoli recipe that (on the page) separates the ingredients and the instructions. And, it’s not a stir-fry! The beef and the broccoli cooks separately and does not come together with its sauce until it hits the serving plate. The sauce gets made in a saucepan on the cook top. The broccoli goes on a sheet pan to roast in the oven, (or do what I did and roast in your air fryer), and the beef is a steak that goes into a hot skillet, (or do what I did and throw it on the grill). So, there is room for a cook’s own creativity. And not being a stir-fry gives the cook a little breathing room. And the dish becomes appropriate for the times when a family cannot all sit down together at the table. It also makes for a real easy meal for when guests are over because you don’t have to get sweaty or frantic talking to someone coming up behind you at the stove while you are trying to stir-fry…... And it makes a great barbecue meal.

There’s a cranberry based sweet-sour sauce to take the place of the usual ketchup ingredient; a crunchy pan-fried rice patty to take the place of a crusty deep fried batter coating, plus other ideas to make cooking easier or ingredients healthier.

The dumpling and pancake chapter starts with clear instructions and information and pictures that will give you confidence to give dumpling making a try. And fillings are unique, too: Beef and blue Cheese, pork dumplings made with vegetable scraps (like the stems from greens), sweet potato with feta and brown butter, Polish potato and cheese pierogi, Mexican chorizo with a white bean puree and cilantro oil, and more. And there are scallion pancake recipes taken to several new levels.

Love the vegetable chapter! Using seasonal veggies is key and the philosophy touted in this book. Being of Polish heritage, I was really happy to find a Hot and Sour Borscht recipe, (vegetarian or vegan), with roasted veggies, garlic, green curry paste, coconut milk, kimchi or sauerkraut juice—pureed, served hot or chilled. There is a “Beekeeper’s” salad with peppery greens, honey and bee pollen and a yogurt dressing a charred cabbage salad for wintertime; parsnip soup for Spring; and many, many more. I am particularly happy with the Roasted Miso Maple Potatoes. I also love the Honey-Soy Butter Glazed Roots—similar to braise that’s already a go-to recipe for me, but this is simmered and boiled and adds soy sauce and honey. I already have my Swiss Chard planted for this year, and I am looking forward to making the Leafy Greens Gratin, with butter and onion and garlic, milk, cheese and white rice. And the Cheddar Scallion Bread Pudding is a Keeper.

The Rice, Noodles, Whole Grains, and Other Food In Bowls Chapter is loaded with very helpful-in-a-pinch recipes: There are fried rice recipes; a noodle salad with summer veggies that will look great with your next backyard barbecue; pan-fried noodles with root veggies and greens; a recipe for making hand-pulled Biang Biang; a basic curry sauce recipe to fiddle with as you will, and ideas for “Market Bowls” that come together easily if you prepare your main grain ahead of time.

The “pasture” chapter has recipes for beef meatballs, S & P chicken wings, stews, lettuce wraps, pork chops, pie, roasts and ribs. The “ocean” chapter, (the American Li family hails from New England), features shrimp, fish, lobster rolls, clams, and more. My favorite is broiled salmon collars, (with three sauces!!!), as I am a fan of buying salmon heads and spines at my oriental market’s seafood counter. There is a roasted whole fish recipe that can become a great “standard” recipe for you whole fish.

There is a chapter that covers desserts and drinks. There is a resource page, too.

Plenty of full-color pictures: Of completed recipes, how-to demonstrations, and of the authors and their families. Personal pictures are very well done and add to the charm of the book. (And there are some really cute kids pictured, too!) Page layout is easy on the eyes, and it’s easy to follow instructions. Ingredient lists are straight forward, as is everything about this book. You are not ever left wondering what is meant by what is written.

**I received an advance, temporary, e-book copy of this book from the publisher to get it off and running with a review on its publication day.
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Double Awesome Chinese Food: Irresistible and Totally Achievable Recipes from Our Chinese-American Kitchen by Margaret Li, Irene Li, and Andrew Li is currently schedule for release on February 9 2019. This book is from  three fun-loving, food-loving Chinese-American siblings--Margaret, Andrew, and Irene Li, the siblings behind Boston's acclaimed Mei Mei Restaurant and Street Kitchen--directly to your kitchen table. Their recipes take familiar dishes and add classic Chinese techniques, a fresh seasonal twist to beloved Chinese restaurant dishes, and layer of Asian ingredients into everyday family meals. Celebrate local veggies with a quick weeknight meal of Farmers Market Fried Rice or Summer Noodle Salad with Ginger Garlic Dressing. Invite all your friends over for an action-packed dumpling-making party featuring Sweet Potato, Feta, and Brown Butter Dumplings and the famous Double Awesome scallion pancake sandwich. Or go low-key and let the Five-Spice Pork Shoulder roast in your oven all day, transforming into a glorious meal for the whole family. The book offers a glimpse behind the scenes of a modern restaurant family, including start-up stories alongside go-to sauces to amp up any meal, and even vegetable-centric desserts. Packed with pro cooking tips, sustainable sourcing advice, and over 100 delicious recipes, Double Awesome Chinese Food will bring fascinating new flavors and crave-worthy dishes to your home kitchen.

Double Awesome Chinese Food starts with an introduction to the siblings that work, cook, and write together. I enjoyed reading about their family, philosophies, and how they got where they are. I also enjoy that they work so hard to be good to the environment and local food system, using local and sustainable ingredients. Including the use of quality and sustainable ingredients in their instructions to readers continues that trend. More experienced cooks might be tempted to skip the tips and tricks that are offered in the beginning of the book, but I highly recommend slowing down to read them. Some might seem obvious, like having a good knife and cutting board, but some others were so smart and simple I could not believe I was not already doing them. I found the information on finding the best ingredients useful as well, since have not been staples in my home and I want to make good choices when adding new things to the mix.

Now the important part, the recipes. I like that each section includes the story behind the dishes, and some options for changing things up a bit, as well as how to create the dish or sauce. The ingredient lists and instructions are easy to understand and leave readers hungry and willing to give it a try themselves. I have to admit to wanting to both run to the grocery store and get going in the kitchen as soon as I read each chapter, but had to hold myself back since I have to ease the picky eaters in my house into new flavors and trying new things.  I do plan on spending my next free day mixing up some of the basic sauces, and trying out a few recipes. There are some dumplings, fritters, and noodle based dishes that are the most likely (hopefully) to go over well with my family that I plan on trying. There are some great recipes that will just be for me, that I will gladly take to work with me and enjoy. I also liked the additional resources at the end of the book to help readers find what they need to achieve the best results. Readers that are looking to expand their cooking knowledge and skill set to include Chinese-n American cuisine will find what they are looking for here. 

Double Awesome Chinese Food is a well written and enjoyable cookbook to explore. I love Chinese-American food but have often felt too intimidated to give it a go. Even though I am no longer the primary cook in the house thanks to my work schedule, I fully plan on trying out a recipe (or two) for my next day off or inspired weekend of cooking.
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What a fresh take on Chinese food! 
I mean we had given the Beef and Broccoli  recipe a try and it was hands down a fresh take on this entree.  We have our share of favorite restaurants and this dish was Different, in a good way.  I love learning new techniques and twists for this dish.  Instead of a simple stir fry—they offered a new way to cook the broccoli in the oven.   To top it off—a squeeze of lemon and optional garlic panko crumbs.  I highly recommend the garlic panko crumbs and the squeeze of lemon as it just brings All the flavors together.   I’m an Asian and this was a meal that I thought I knew all the tricks to—-this book I feel will be full of delectable surprises.

I love the family connections and stories interweaving through the pages.  It makes this more than just a book full of recipes.    There is a story, a memory,  something personal that makes this cook book interesting.  It stirs me to want to make memories that centers around the dinner table.

 Double Awesome Chinese food does not disappoint in its illustrations.  It not only has pictures of the final dish, but especially in the Dumplings section they have pictures that helps navigate some of the steps.  

What I really appreciate in this book is the way they simplify the sauces that go into the different recipes.  It is not simply a sauce that you purchase at the store, but for most of the sauces they provide a recipe that makes the recipe that much more authentic and not out of reach because I have to make a run to the grocery store for a bottle of 'sauce'.

I highly enjoyed this book and would make more family meals without reservations.
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I adore this book! I cannot rate it highly enough! 
It is full of wonderful vibrant photographs that instantly make you want to start cooking and the layout Nd print style is equally as appealing due to its simple yet bold format.
It has plenty of recipes for vegetarians as well as gluten free options that are easily identified.
I am thrilled with the variety and quality of the recipes included, from classics like Beef & Broccoli  or Stir-fried Greens to the variety of Market Bowls that I myself have not tried before. I particularly like the twist on Sweet & Sour found  in the Cranberry Sweet and Sour Pork and the Harvest Moon Curry is simply delicious!
I love cooking Chinese Food and will thoroughly enjoy working my way through more of the recipes in this book.
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Thank you Roost Books for a copy of Double Awesome Chinese Food for review. Publishing February 5, 2019 this cook book is a must for anyone wanting to cook authentic Chinese food at home.

I will admit that I was intimidated by some of these recipes as I was flipping through deciding what to try. Some of the ingredients were not ones I knew where to find and some of the techniques were new to me. But the instructions were very easy to follow and they do go into what to substitute if you have to and what to make a special effort to obtain from specialty stores.

I ended up trying a couple of recipes and both were unique but very very good. I would definitely recommend this book if you want to step out of your comfort zone a little and try a different cuisine at home!
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This book was phenomenal. A great story coupled with delicious looking recipes, impressive instructions to lead the way, and wonderful photography. Will definitely become one of my most recommended cookbooks.
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Gorgeous photos showcase the beautiful food, and also give a sense of how this cookbook presents Chinese food that is different from the run-of-the-mill local Chinese joint. The authors, from the Mei Mei restaurant and food truck owners, discuss and encourage sustainable ingredients, so this will appeal to those who bring a social consciousness to their cooking. The ingredients are nearly all readily available, and there are recipes for sauces which might be harder to find. The gorgeous photos indicate presentations that are more "Western" in appearance. For instance, the beef with broccoli is a whole flank steak sliced in the center of a platter and surrounded with broccoli. The photos make this as much a coffee table book as a cookbook.
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Double thumbs up for the Li siblings' Double Awesome Chinese Food! Full of flavor and soul, this cookbook would be a superb addition to any cooks arsenal.
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Creative ideas and spins on different classics.  Was Anu interesting read however many recipes were more for weekends as seem time consuming.
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A perfectly balanced blending of Chinese and American cuisine comes loving made by the Li siblings. Beautifully photographed shots of food and family make you long to get home and cook with your loved one.  The recipes are mouthwatering and will make your stomach rumble.  If I ever make it to Boston I will be visiting the Li's restaurant and food trucks.  I especially want to try a Double Awesome and any of the noodle dishes. 

The cookbook itself is a must have for anyone wanting to try making Chinese cuisine at home for their family.  Easy to follow instructions and ingredients that are easy to acquire make this book very accessible for the home cook.
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The photos!  What a beautiful book.  These are recipes and well-told tales of three siblings who came together, pooling their individual strengths, to create a growing business that centers around their love of food and family.  Though they push the healthy-growth and get a little holier-than-thou, I agree with their viewpoint so it wasn't offensive; it is not, however, feasible for many people in a lower income bracket or living in a less agricultural and eco-minded area.  I really enjoyed this book.  I will never, never, never try a single one of those recipes, though.  In fact, any number of them I wouldn't even order off of the menu.  Recommended for people who just enjoy reading cookbooks, not for anyone looking for new recipes to try.
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What makes this cookbook “double awesome” is its international flavors that combine classic Chinese cuisine with a more eclectic word wide approach.  This cookbook has me inspired and craving new gastronomical experiences with a solid framework to adventure out from.
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Great Chinese cookbook, lots of recipes, good variety! Some dishes I have made before but plenty to keep me interested.
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Do not read over this book while you are hungry. Do not repeat my mistakes. Do you know what I would give for some of the food in this book? Everything. PLEASE JUST GIVE ME SOME DUMPLINGS!

In all seriousness, the cookbook brings together the best of family, food, tradition, and experimentation. The recipes are easy to follow and the pictures are stunning. This would be a great addition to your cookbook shelf if you want to experiment with something outside your wheelhouse. (Of course, if you frequently make Asian food then this will still be great for giving you some new ideas with an American twist.)
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