When we think of Chinese feasts, we immediately conjure thoughts of Peking duck, pork belly buns and dim sum. But what about Mongolian beef, Sichuan pork, oysters steamed in the half-shell, shaved ice and other lesser known dishes? That's where Bee Yinn Low, creator of Rasa Malaysia, the biggest independent Asian recipes site on the Internet, comes in. Bee's new cookbook Easy Chinese Recipes promises to demystify and simplify dishes for the Chinese food aficionado. Read on for Bee's take on food photography and how to spot an authentic Chinese dish before you even order it. Easy Chinese Recipes is now available in Asia and on Amazon, but check out our book giveaway at the end of the Q&A!
FOODSPOTTING As a longtime food blogger, you know that food photos are necessary for sharing the experience with an online community. What are your thoughts on food photography online, in restaurants and even in cookbooks? Have you noticed any new trends?
BEE YINN LOW Food bloggers are producing some of the most amazing food photography online now. In fact, many of them leap from amateur to professional food photographers by shooting for cookbooks and restaurants. Even cookbooks are being styled and photographed by the authors. Case-in-point: I styled and photographed all the dishes you see in my cookbook. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to work with a professional food stylist and photographer, but I also think that an author who styles and shoots his/her cookbook adds a personal touch to the dishes and makes them seem more real.
FS What is your experience like in a typical Chinese restaurant? What do you order and why?
BYL I have this habit of tasting the soy sauce in the condiment canister whenever I go to a Chinese restaurant I have never tried before. A good soy sauce is essential to great Chinese cooking. If the restaurant doesn’t even have a good tasting soy sauce, the food probably is not going to be good. In that case, I will shy away from ordering dishes with soy sauce.
FS What is your favorite Chinese dish to eat? To make?
BYL Wonton soup or fried wonton, both which you can find in Easy Chinese Recipes. You just can’t go wrong with little morsels of meat and seafood wrapped with dough skin. There is a reason why the Chinese characters of wonton literally mean “swallow cloud!”
FS Last but not least, which dishes do you usually recommend at a Chinese restaurant?
BYL Dim Sum. Go to a great Cantonese dim sum restaurant and order siu mai, shrimp dumplings, pork buns, pot stickers, egg tarts, and mango pudding. If you can’t find a dim sum restaurant where you live, there is a “Dim Sum & Dumplings” chapter in my cookbook where you can learn how to make authentic and delicious Chinese dim sum at home!
Thanks to Tuttle publishers, we are giving away Easy Chinese Recipes to ten lucky foodspotters! To enter, spot Chinese dishes on Foodspotting and tag your sightings with #bookspotting. Contest ends Tuesday, October 11th. Winners will be randomly chosen from eligible entries. US and Canada only.
All food photos pictured in this post were found on Foodspotting.