If you ever struggled to make Chinese food that tastes just like the food you eat in your local restaurant and failed at the attempt, then you MUST purchase The Shun Lee Cookbook by Michael Tong. So many of the dishes that we have come to know and love – Dry Sauted String Beans, Sliced Chicken with Broccoli, Kung Pao Shrimp – are in this book and were created at the Shun Lee restaurants in New York. When I purchased the book, the very first recipe I tried was Sliced Chicken and Broccoli, the ONLY thing my younger daughter will eat in a Chinese restaurant. [note 1] I had tried numerous times to try to cook this dish and I failed miserably. I could not duplicate the silky melt-in-your-mouth texture of the chicken until I got this book. The result? My daughter loved the dish and ate all of the chicken.
Sliced Chicken and Broccoli Cooking in the Wok
As American As Chinese Food
According to The Fortune Cookie Chronicles, “[T]here are more Chinese restaurants in America than McDonalds, Burger Kings, and Wendys combined.”
Chinese Food and the Jews
There are some people who religiously go to church, who observe every holiday, who diligently follow the dictates of their priest or pastor. For my family, and for so many assimilated Jews, the only thing we did religiously was eat Chinese food. Every Sunday my family would pile into the car and go to the local Chinese restaurant for Sunday dinner.
There are several theories that try to explain the affinity that Jews have for Chinese food. (See Identity Takeout: How American Jews Made Chinese Food Their Ethnic Cuisine) Perhaps Chinese food seemed exotic, at least to Jews. By partaking in this exotic cuisine they were able to show that they were a sophisticated and educated people. Perhaps the appeal was the affordability of Chinese food, a major consideration for new immigrants who were still struggling to make ends meet. Perhaps it was the “family-style service, which implicitly celebrated the centrality of domestic life.” So…which theory is correct? Who cares as long as the Chinese food tastes good…that’s all that matters.
Jews in the News: When Elena Kagan – a (Jewish) Supreme Court candidate – was asked by Senator Graham, “Where were you on Christmas?”, Ms. Kagan said “You know, like all Jews, I was probably at a Chinese restaurant.”
- To be accurate, she eats only the chicken…not the broccoli.↩