Last night, the Second Saturdays Reading Series opened its third season in New York City with a delicious treat. The featured author Kian Kho Lam spoke about his new cookbook Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees: Essential Techniques of Authentic Chinese Cooking (Clarkson Potter, 2015). The talk was followed by a sampling of Chinese dishes from the beautifully illustrated hardback.
Kian had an interesting story to tell. He first trained as an aerospace engineer and then he developed computer software on Wall Street for 20 years. During this time, he could never find in NYC the Chinese food that he loved while growing up in Singapore. He wrote home for the recipes, apprenticed in the kitchen of Chef Josh Capon at Canteen (now Lure Fishbar), and researched the history and techniques of Chinese cooking, even going to China to interview chefs in the big cities of Beijing and Shanghai as well as the historical city of Chang’an, a UNESCO heritage site. The result of all the work is a wonderful book with 158 recipes for the dishes that he has perfected over the years. Illustrated with 240 photographs, including step-by-step technique shots and inspiring images, the volume also includes a history of Chinese cooking and an explanation of regional cuisines. Publishers Weekly describes the book as “a superb tutorial on Chinese cooking.”
After the talk, everyone enjoyed tasting four different dishes. An especial favorite was the red braised pork. We were hosted by Kian’s friends, Troy and Alice, in their lovely Morningside Park brownstone. As always, the mood was casual and friendly, as introductions were exchanged and friends reconnected after the summer hiatus. Next month, A. Naomi Jackson will read from her debut novel The Star Side of Bird Hill. We will be bringing back our potluck and open reading. If you’d like to be added to the mailing list, please contact Jee at email@example.com. All are welcomed.