Blog Tour: Chinese-ish, Rosheen Kaul and Joanna Hu

Book Review: Chinese-ish: Home Cooking Not Quite Authentic 100% Delicious, Rosheen Kaul and Joanna Hu


Nonfiction: Chinese-ish: Home Cooking Not Quite Authentic 100% Delicious, Rosheen Kaul and Joanna Hu


The best cookbooks not only give us terrific tasting recipes, but also share a window into the cultural world of the author.  Rosheen Kaul and Joanna Hu provide a memoir of growing up as the children of immigrant parents in their Chinese-ish: Home Cooking Not Quite Authentic 100% Delicious. This cookbook is not organized in the typical main dishes-sides-desserts or by food types such as meats-starches-vegetables. It is divided into the three parts along their journey of discovering of their identity while growing up with blended cultures.


Part One, named Chinese Cooking 101, provides the basics for home cooks in working with Chinese pantry staples and cooking techniques along with the authors’ stories of growing up in  two cultures which were oftentimes conflicting. Here you will find iconic foods and techniques that the authors grew up with such as rice, noodles, wontons and stir-frying. Part Two, titled The Rebellion: How to Disappoint Your Parents, gives examples of fusion recipes besides stories of the authors’ trying to strike out on their own as part of establishing their own separate identities. The recipes in this section are appropriate sizes for 1 or 2 adults and reveal the types of food choices a young adult in their first apartment would enjoy. The stand out recipe in this section would probably be Beijing Hot Chicken which is Rosheen’s take on Hot Nashville Chicken with Northern Chinese Spice Mix and a Korean frying technique. Part Three, called My Love Language is a Fruit Platter, brings a satisfying meld of recognizing self and family bonds. The recipes are all laced with comfort and fond memories. Several of the recipes in this section reminded me strongly of the dishes my immigrant Phil-Am family use as comfort food and holiday celebrations.


As a home cook, one of the lessons learned from this cookbook is adding a little sugar to savory dishes. Many of the dishes called for a 1/4 teaspoon of sugar. This little cooking gem will reap massive awards. Also be aware that the authors are Australian so the measurements are given in a mixture of metric grams/ml, ounces, and volume (cups). The combinations might be slightly confusing to some American home cooks, but this is a vast improvement over many Asian family recipes I have encountered where measurements were the oh, so familiar “there’s enough water to cook the rice when it hits your first knuckle.” Another thing to be aware of is that the main author’s recipes hail from the region in China that is as fond of Chili/Pepper/Capsaicin as parts of the American southwest is fond of heat in Tex/Mex cuisine. As a home cook, remember that you are in control and you can always add more spice but you can’t take it out. In my family, we have to compromise, when the food gets to the point that I get uncomfortable, that when half my family starts thinking yum. You can keep a jar of that nice chili oil condiment from part one, on the table for the heat lovers.


Chinese Graphic6In modern cookbooks, we expect beautiful food photos to enhance the text and the photos of Armelle Habib are indeed a feast for the eyes. However, Joanna Hu’s illustrations and hand lettering add a whimsical and joyfully exuberant touch that convey the deeply personal blending of cultures that the book represents. I was especially taken by the rice cooker drawing in part one that looks my pink Tiger brand cooker which is still going strong at 3 plus decades of weekly use.


Altogether an amazing book that will inspire and feed your soul.

Chinese Graphic 7

Cheat’s Egg Custard Tarts

The recipe below was eagerly tested in our home kitchen by my son and the results were delicious. From the section title “A few desserts we don’t hate” here is ” cheat’s egg custard tarts.” For American home cooks, we used Pepperidge Farm puff pastry sheets which can be found in most American grocery freezer sections.


Book Review: Chinese-ish: Home Cooking Not Quite Authentic 100% Delicious, Rosheen Kaul and Joanna HuVegetable oil, for brushing
2 sheets shortcrust pastry

1/3 cup (75 g) caster (superfine) sugar
150 ml (5 fl oz) hot water
2 eggs
1⁄4 cup (60 ml) sweetened
condensed milk
1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the custard, dissolve the sugar in the hot water in a saucepan
over low heat, stirring to make a syrup. In a bowl, whisk the eggs,
condensed milk and vanilla together to combine. While whisking
continuously, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the egg mixture.
Strain into a jug and allow to stand until the air bubbles dissipate.
Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).

Lightly brush a 12-hole muffi n tin or 12 fl uted individual tart tins
with oil. Cut the pastry sheets into 12 even squares and press into
the greased tins, trimming off any excess. Chill in the fridge for
15–20 minutes.

Line the pastry shells with baking paper and fi ll with pastry weights
or uncooked rice. Blind-bake for 10 minutes, then carefully remove
the paper and weights and bake for another 3–4 minutes, until
golden. Set aside to cool.

Reduce the oven temperature to 140°C (275°F) and divide the

custard equally between the shells.

Bake the tarts on the lowest shelf of your oven for 20–25 minutes,
until the fi lling is just set. Remove from the oven and allow to rest
for about 15 minutes. Enjoy the custard tarts while they’re warm.


Book Review: Chinese-ish: Home Cooking Not Quite Authentic 100% Delicious, Rosheen Kaul and Joanna Hu
Rosheen Kaul and Joanna Hu, Authors and Illustrator

Book Review: Chinese-ish: Home Cooking Not Quite Authentic 100% Delicious, Rosheen Kaul and Joanna Hu

Our thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things for our copy of Chinese-ish, provided so we could participate in this blog tour. The opinions here are solely those of Scintilla. For other perspectives, check out the other bloggers on this tour.


Book Review: Chinese-ish: Home Cooking Not Quite Authentic 100% Delicious, Rosheen Kaul and Joanna Hu

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