test of time
A Cantonese cookbookBy Betty Shimabukuro
from 1941 is reborn
in the year 2000
The honored guest should be given the seat facing the door. No one sits until the host does. Never rest chopsticks on the tablecloth.
"It is permissible to comment on the excellence of the food, but it is a mistake to show greediness by eating too much from one dish."
These are the rules of civility listed in "Chinese Home Cooking," published by the Chinese Committee, International Institute of the YWCA, in 1941.
The women had met in a cooking class and put together the cookbook of Cantonese dishes to raise money to support the war effort in China.
The Honolulu Consortium, another group of women, has reprinted the book and is making it available beginning this week as part of its own effort to support needy causes.
The book is essentially as it was, except for one improvement. The old stitched binding has been replaced by a spiral binding that allows the cookbook to lie flat, important for those who use, rather than simply admire, their cookbooks. But the recipes for kau yuk, taro cake, almond cookies and more, are as they were.
"We didn't want to fuss with it or do fat grams or anything else," says Mona Chang Vierra of the consorium. "That's part of the charm of it, that's what those ladies cranked out all those years ago."
The introduction on ettiquette remains. Even the color of the book cover, a deep burgundy, is nearly identical to the original.
Many members of the group have used the old cookbook or remember their mothers and aunts cooking with it, Vierra says. The recipes have also survived the taste tests of time.
"The almond cookie recipe is an absolute winner," she says.
Vierra's group has printed 1,500 copies of the cookbook. Out of the proceeds, a donation will go to the YWCA and the rest will support an orphanage in China and benefit women and girls in that country.
Here is a sampling of what the cookbook offers:
Beef and Tomatoes with Long Rice1 pound tomatoesBlanch tomatoes and remove skin. Cut in thirds; remove seeds.
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sliced onion
1 stalk green onion, in 1-1/2 inch pieces
2 stalks celery, sliced diagonally
1 small green pepper, in segments
Beef and seasonings:
1 pound flank steak
2 tablespoons peanut oil
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon ginger juice
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon wine
2/3 roll long rice
1 cup peanut oil, for frying
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon ketchup
1/2 teaspoon vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
To prepare long rice: Break into 3-inch lengths and form into discs about the size of a saucer. Heat 1 cup peanut oil and fry each disc until well-puffed. Turn and fry other side. Drain well. Place on platter.
To prepare beef: Slice steak and mix with seasonings. Heat tablespoon of oil and add salt. Fry onions, celery, then bell pepper. Add tomatoes last and fry just slightly.
For gravy: Combine ingredients and slowly add to vegetables. Stir constantly while bringing to a boil. Add beef and cook until done. Serve on top of long rice.
Almond Cookies3 cups flourMix dry ingredients; cut in shortening until texture resembles cornmeal. Add unbeaten egg and knead only until egg is absorbed.
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup shortening
1/2 cup almonds, blanched
Break off bits of dough the size of a small egg and shape into circles 1 inch wide and 1/2 inch thick, or roll out and cut with small biscuit cutter.
Press an almond on top of each cookie. Bake at 300 degrees for 5 minutes, then increase temperature to 350 degrees and bake 20 minutes longer.
Nutritional information unavailable.
Buy the book: At the YWCA Leader Luncheon, noon Friday, Hilton Hawaiian Village
'Chinese Home Cooking'
Also available: At the YWCA Laniakea Center, 1040 Richards St.
Order by mail: P.0. Box 3051, Honolulu, HI 96802.
Price: $11 ($3 more by mail)
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