The Chinese Cookbook

Front Cover
askmar publishing, Sep 30, 2011 - Cooking
1 Review

 First published in 1972, The Chinese Cookbook by Craig Clairborne and Virgina Lee remains one of the best Chinese cookbooks. For many Americans, The Chinese Cookbook opened the door to a world beyond chop suey and egg foo young.”

Virginia Lee had been cooking since age seven. She observed and experimented with Chinese recipes during her extensive travels over China with her family, and after her marriage to Kuang Chao Lee, manager of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank. Due to her husband’s position and interest in fine food, many of the finest chefs in China cooked in their kitchen, and furthered her education. After coming to the United States in 1967, she quickly developed the reputation as one of America’s foremost Chinese chefs.

Over a two year period, Virginia Lee worked with Craig Claiborne in his East Hampton’s home kitchen, to clearly and explicitly explain how 250 well know Chinese dishes could be prepared by most American cooks without undue work.

The book is both thorough and easy to understand, written clearly and explicitly to educate even the novice cook. Recipes are categorized by their main ingredient (pork, chicken, beef, seafood, et cetera) with a chapter on desserts.

It provides considerable practical advice about kitchen equipment, methods, and proper cooking techniques, such as the proper ways to carve and present meat. It concludes with a detailed list and description of Chinese ingredients.

New to the 2011 Edition

Electronic books have no fixed page numbers. However, for the purposes of the index, the page numbers listed correspond to hypertext links that are located at the same locations of the original text. (You can click on an index page link and be taken to that portion of the text.) Color illustrations have replaced the orig

What people are saying - Write a review

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

This was one of the first books to emerge during the post-Nixon China visit and remains one of the best Chinese cookbooks in any collection (and I have many). Check out the stir friend pork with straw mushrooms and baby corn, an old Cantonese standby, or the pork with long or green beans. Also excellent is the recipe for Kung Pao chicken, particularly if you augment it with some vegies (I use onion chunks, bell pepper, and asparagus). With Pierre Franey, Claiborne, food critic for the paper, wrote some wonderful "New York Times Cookbooks," chock full of international gourmet selections, and Ms. Lee was already a leading authority on Chinese cooking, aiding Claiborne in making the recipes easy for the American chef. Their fried rice recipe is still popular, though I like mine in the Yangchow style with shrimp, pork, and chicken in combination. There may have been a lot of more comprehensive Chinese cookbooks, as well as several concentrating on the food of a particular region (Hunan, Szechewan, &c.) but this is as good a basic primer as is available.  

Selected pages


Sweet and Sour Sea Bass
FishStuffed Chili Peppers
Quick PanFry Shrimps
Kung Pao Shrimp
Butterfly Shrimp
Velvet Shrimp
Shrimp Noodles
StirFry Shrimp Noodles with Crab Meat

Liver Mousse
Shrimp Toast with Sesame Seed Topping
Gold Coin Shrimp Toast
Shrimp Boxes
Tea Eggs or Spicy Eggs
Cold Spiced Eggplant
Chicken Skin and Cucumber Salad
Coriander and Bean Curd with Sesame Sauce
Cold Chrysanthemum Leaves with Sesame Oil
Szechwan Cabbage Pickle
Cold Kidney and Celery
Squid and Celery A Cold Dish
How to Skin and Bone a Fowl
Poached Chicken with Ginger and Scallion Sauce
DeepFried Cut Chicken in Scallion Marinade
SnowWhite Chicken
Chicken with Broccoli
Chicken with Walnuts
StirFry Chicken with Snow Peas
Chicken Breasts in Tomato Sauce
Chicken with Fish Flavor
Chicken with Black Beans and Shallots
Soy Sauce Chicken
Beggars Chicken
Chinese Chicken with Nuts
Chicken Steamed with Chinese Sausage
Kung Pao Chicken
Shredded Chicken with Spinach
Chicken Velvet
Chicken Wings with Tomato Sauce
Moo Goo Gai Pin
Chrysanthemum Chicken
Red Wine Sauce Chicken
StirFry Chicken Shreds with Jellyfish
Coconut Chicken
Spiced Chicken Wings
StirFry Chicken Wings with Frogs Legs
Sing Fong Chicken
StirFry Chicken Giblets with Celery Cabbage
Chicken Shreds with Bean Sprouts
Chicken Shrimp and Ham in Paper Packages
Spiced Chicken Legs with Sesame Sauce
Chicken Stuffed with Glutinous Rice
Pon Pon Chicken
Phoenix and Dragon Chicken Legs
Fried Squab Cantonese Style
Juicy Fried Squab
StirFry Squab
Peking Duck I
Peking Duck II
Peking Duck Sauce I
Cantonese Roast Duck
StirFry Roast Duck with Chives
StirFry Roast Duck with Bean Sprouts
Casserole Duck with Onions
Red Duck
Crisp Szechwan Duck
Watercress Garnish for Duck
Smoked Duck
Eight Precious Treasures
Walnut Crispy Duck
Sesame Seed Pork Chops
Marinated Pork Chops Chinese Style
TwiceCooked Pork
Sweet and Sour Pork
Lions Head
Spicy Pork and Bean Curd
StirFry Pork Cubes with Straw Mushrooms and Baby Corn
Lettuce Package
Shredded Pancakes with Pork and Vegetables
Cantonese Roast Pork
Chinese Barbecued Spareribs
Boiled Pork with Garlic Sauce
Spicy Fresh Pork Casserole
RedCooked Pork
Pigs Feet Casserole
Pigs Feet with Ginger
Honey Ham
Pork and Egg Dumplings
Steamed Pork with Salted Eggs
Ground Pork with Hot Peppers
Pork with Hot Peppers
Corned Pork
Fresh Bacon Steamed with Rice Powder
Tinkling Bells
Pork with Szechwan Preserved Vegetable
Spiced Oxtail Casserole
Steamed Beef Balls
Short Ribs of Beef with Scallions
Shin of Beef and White Turnip Casserole
Beef with Onions
Beef and Green Peppers
StirFry Beef with Bean Sprouts
Beef with Cellophane Noodles
Beef with Asparagus
Beef with Oyster Sauce
Beef with Peas and Peanuts
Szechwan StirFry Beef with Hot Peppers
Sand Beef
StirFry Steak with Mushrooms
Ginger Beef
Ginger Beef and Bean Curd with Hot Pepper
Bitter Melon with Beef
Tripe with Coriander
Roof Brick Carp
Abalone with Oyster Sauce
Squirrel Fish
Wine and Ginger Fish
Master Recipe for Steamed Fish
Steamed Fish with Meat Sauce
Steamed Fish with Bean Sauce
Steamed Flounder
West Lake Carp
Grand Old Man Steamed Red Snapper with Herbs
Brown Sauce Carp
StirFry Shrimps with Bean Curd
CantoneseFried Shrimps
Szechwan Shrimp
Shrimps in Black Bean Sauce with Ginger and Scallions
Shrimps with Kidney Slices
Lobster Cantonese
StirFry Lobster and Shrimps
Steamer Clams with Hot Sauce
Clams in Black Bean and Oyster Sauce
StirFry Bay Scallops
Mussel Omelet
StirFry Mussels with Chives
Steamed Whole Crabs with Ginger Sauce
Cantonese StirFry Crabs
Crab Meat with StirFry Eggs
StirFry Crab Meat
StirFry Crab Meat with Shrimps
DeepFried Crab Claws with Shrimps
Frogs Legs with Black Beans
StirFry Squid with Scallions and Ginger
Sea Slugs with Pork Sauce
Sharks Fin Soup I
Sharks Fin Soup II
Romaine Lettuce in Cream Sauce
Spinach with Bamboo Shoots
StirFry Long Beans
StirFry String Beans with Vegetables
DryFried String Beans
Bean Sprouts with Pork and Peppers
Celery Cabbage with Chicken Sauce
Celery Cabbage with Chestnuts
Spicy Sweet and Sour Cabbage
Chinese Cabbage Layers
StirFry Cabbage and Shredded Pork
Cabbage Wellington
Spicy Cucumber Salad
Spicy Braised Eggplant
Vegetables in Chicken Sauce
Turnip Cake
StirFry Egg Yolks with Water Chestnuts
StirFry Snow Peas with Szechwan Preserved Vegetable
Snow Peas and Straw Mushrooms
Sweet and Sour Cabbage
Mustard Greens with Straw Mushrooms
Braised Fresh Fava Beans Chinese Style
Fava Beans with Button Mushrooms
StirFry Chrysanthemum Leaves
Mock Peking Duck
Soups and Hot Pots
Egg Drop Soup
Winter Melon and Ham Soup
Boiled Beef Balls in Soup
Fish Ball Soup
Fish Soup
Soup with Shrimp Noodles
Hot and Sour Soup
Chicken and Abalone Soup
Bean Curd and Beef Ball Soup
Liver Soup
Chicken Wing and Mushroom Soup
Watercress and Pork Ball Soup
Watercress and Chicken Giblet Soup
MoShu Soup
Szechwan Cabbage and Pork Soup
Cucumber and Dried Shrimp Soup
Whiting and Bean Curd Soup
Flowery Bean Curd Soup
Bean Curd Casserole Soup
Steamed Squab Soup
ThreeColor Delicious Soup
Szechwan Preserved Vegetable Soup
Fish Roll with Celery Cabbage Soup
Hot Pots
Mongolian Hot Pot
Chrysanthemum Hot Pot
Rice Noodles and Dumplings
Rice Cake
Fried Rice Cake with Shrimps
Fried Rice Cake with Mouth Mushroom Soup
The Best Fried Rice
Cantonese Beef Ball Con Gee
Chicken Congee
Lo Mein with Pork and Bean Sprouts
Lo Mein with Beef
TwoSidesBrown Noodles
ThreeShreds Soup Noodles
Cold Noodles with Spicy Sauce
Tsa Chiang Mien Noodles with Minced Pork and Bean Sauce
Spring Rolls
Won Ton
Sweet and Sour Fried Won Ton
Szechwan Spicy Chicken Dumplings
Cantonese Dumplings
Fried JaoTze
Boiled JaoTze
Fried JaoTze Made from Cooked Boiled JaoTze
Steamed JaoTze
JaoTze Sauce I For 2 persons
Shiu May
Roast Pork Steamed Buns
Sesame Seed Buns
Steamed Chinese Breads
Chinese Pancakes
Pork and Shrimp Pastries
Pumpkin Dumplings with Spinach Casings
Fermented Rice or Wine Rice
Walnut Date Soup
Eight Precious Jewel Pudding
Red Sand Rice Roll
Candied Apple Slices
Sesame Seed Balls
Chinese Pancakes with Apricot Filling and Peanuts
Fluffy Date Pastry
Chinese Ingredients Where and How to Obtain Them
Sources for Chinese Ingredients

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2011)

Craig Claiborne
Craig Claiborne was one of the three best-known food writers in America during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s during his tenure at the New York Times, the others being Julia Child and James Beard. He legitimized the field of restaurant criticism by maintaining a discreet, anonymous profile in visiting a restaurant and paying his own check. He would evaluate the restaurant’s food, ambience, and service, giving a rating between zero and four stars. Previously, it was common for reviewers to be paid by the very restaurants they were critiquing. Claiborne's ample knowledge of gastronomy commanded respect by restaurateurs who used his reviews to improve themselves.

He popularized the cuisines of China, Vietnamese, Indian, Brazilian, and a dozen more by having experts raised in the particular traditions to come to his house and cook where he would take meticulous notes, than write about them in the New York Times.

His first and most popular book, The New York Times Cookbook of 1961, sold over three million copies and was eventually translated into seventeen languages. He co-wrote (with Virginia Lee) the first American cookbook of genuine Chinese cuisine, The Chinese Cookbook, published in 1972, as well as twenty other cookbooks, including Craig Claiborne’s Memorable Meals and Craig Claiborne’s Southern Cooking.

Born September 4, 1920 in Sunflower, Mississippi, he grew up in Indianola, Mississippi. He received a degree in journalism from the University of Mississippi. After working in public relations, he enrolled in the L'Ecole Hôtelière Professional School of the Swiss Hotel Keepers Association in Lausanne, Switzerland.

He lived most of his adult life in Manhattan and East Hampton, Long Island. He was known for his elaborate New Year’s Eve and birthday parties, as well as his Fourth of July picnics. He died of a heart attack on January 22, 2000.
“Why Craig Claiborne Matters,” by Georgeanna Milam Chapman, Master’s Thesis, 2007, University of Mississippi at Oxford (reformatted July 2011)
Virginia Lee
Virginia Lee came to the United States in 1967. She started teaching Chinese cooking after being interviewed by Craig Claiborne for an article in The New York Times. Teaching only 10 students at a time, one of her early students was Craig Claiborne. She subsequently co-authored The Chinese Cookbook with him in 1972.

A native of Shanghai, she attended Keene's School in Tianjin and studied at Peking University. Her husband, K. C. Lee, was a businessman and manager of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank. She had three sons in Hong Kong and two daughters in the United States.

“After I was married,” she said, “we entertained a lot because of my husband's position and his interest in fine food. And in our day, we had some of the finest chefs of China in our kitchen. They taught me how to cook. Wherever we were, I would send my cooks to the kitchens of restaurants to learn how to make certain dishes, and as often as not, I'd ask to go myself.”

In her teaching, she emphasized methods by which dishes were prepared exactly as they would be in China.

Virginia Lee died of cancer in Manhattan at age 76 on October 16, 1981.


Bibliographic information