Mrs. Chiang's Szechwan Cookbook: Szechwan Home Cooking

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askmar publishing, Aug 30, 2010 - Cooking

 When published in 1976, “Mrs. Chiang's Szechwan Cookbook” was the first authentic Szechwan cookbook to appear in the United States.

The book was the result of Ellen and John Schrecker studying Chinese culture in Taiwan, during which they met Mrs. Chiang Jung-feng, a superb Chinese Szechwan cook. The tastes and textures of her dishes were always clear and bright. She was a master of the “zhen wer” or true taste; the result of continual care, attention to detail and practice. Subsequently, Mrs. Chiang came home with them to New Jersey.

Szechwan cooking is a highly spiced, yet subtle cuisine. Although the recipes in the book are considered peasant food — good hearty home cooking — even the poorest peasants eat extraordinary food, giving them the nickname of "good-eating devils."

The book contains Chiang Jung-feng's childhood memories of her mother's fragrant Szechwan kitchen that evoke the spirit as well as the taste of home cooking. Her mother was a superlative cook who understood very well that her daughter's fortune depended on her skill in the kitchen and taught her well. Their household raised most of their own food, butchered their own pigs, and made their own soy sauce and vinegar.

The book was written by Ellen Schrecker, the hundreds of recipes were by Chiang Jung-feng and tested in the Schrecker New Jersey kitchen, and translation was provided by John Schrecker.

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The best Chinese cookbook for Szechwan cooking. I have never had a bad result and the combinations of flavors are extraordinary. Two-sides yellow, which I have never seen anywhere else, is the recipe to turn everyone into a tofu lover. This is a classic and a must for anyone who is serious about Szechwan cooking. Tony 

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About the author (2010)

Ellen Schrecker

Ellen Wolf Schrecker, Ph.D. (born August 4, 1938) is a professor of American history at Yeshiva University. She graduated magna cum laude from Radcliffe College in 1960 and earned her M.A. in 1962 and her doctorate in 1974, both from Harvard University. She has taught at Harvard, Princeton, New York University, the New School for Social Research, and Columbia. From 1998 to 2002, Schrecker was the editor of Academe, the journal of the American Association of University Professors.

Schrecker's best known book is “Many Are the Crimes: McCarthyism in America,” published in 1998, as well as a very well regarded Chinese cookbook, “Mrs. Chiang’s Szechwan Cookbook - Szechwan Home Cooking,” in 1976. She is also the author of The Lost Soul of Higher Education: Corporatization, the Assault on Academic Freedom, and the End of the American University.

John Schrecker

John Schrecker is a Professor of History Emeritus at Brandeis University in Waltham, MA

Jung-Feng Chiang

Jung-feng Chiang was born December 12, 1926 in Chengdu, Sichuan province, China.  She came to Taiwan between 1948 and 1950.

Subsequently she came to the United States in 1971 and worked for John and Ellen Schrecker until 1975. She became a naturalized citizen in New York on August 29, 1979 and continues to live in New York City. 

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