Hsiao-Ching Chou

Hsiao-Ching Chou

Food journalist

https://mychinesesoulfood.com/
Hsiao-Ching Chou is the author of Chinese Soul Food: A Friendly Guide for Homemade Dumplings, Stir-Fries, Soups, and More. She is the former food editor at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper. She has appeared on national television and radio, including “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations” and “The Splendid Table.” She won the coveted Bert Greene Award from the International Association for Culinary Professionals for excellence in feature writing. After she left the P-I in 2007, she co-founded a public relations firm that specialized in promoting restaurants. From 2011-2017, she was the director of communications at Institute for Systems Biology, a nonprofit biomedical research organization in Seattle. She teaches Chinese cooking at Hot Stove Society, where her monthly potsticker and stir-fry classes regularly sell out. She is the vice chair of the James Beard Foundation’s cookbook committee, which administers the prestigious annual cookbook awards. She serves on the board of directors for the Ballard Food Bank. Currently, she is a communications and marketing consultant for clients in the inclusive design and biotech fields.

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Hsiao-Ching's favorite cookbooks

Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts

Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts

By Alice Medrich

This is my favorite dessert book. I love that it’s concise, built on the solid foundation of Medrich’s considerable experience, and that she streamlined the methods so that they are foolproof and doable by anyone. The one-bowl chocolate cake is my go-to for cupcakes and layer cakes. The almond cake has dazzled more dinner guests than I can count. Her perspective influenced my approach when I wrote my cookbook.

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How to Grill

How to Grill

By Steven Raichlen

I had zero background in grilling and barbecuing when I started out as a professional food writer. I couldn’t answer my readers’ questions and realized quickly that I had to do something about that. I cooked through How to Grill and got the foundation I needed to better respond to readers and on which to build my own knowledge.

My Mexico

My Mexico

By Diana Kennedy

Guacamole Chamacuero is the best ever and it’s in this book. I was fortunate enough to get to interview Kennedy and I learned not only that avocados and chiles can be so different (and therefore affect the flavor of guacamole) but that you can add pears, grapes, and pomegranate seeds. This guac is a revelation. More importantly, Kennedy’s body of work and scholarship are incredible.

Cookwise

Cookwise

By Shirley Corriher

The science of cooking came alive for me through Corriher’s book. I also learned from her about White Lily flour and the power of Touch of Grace Biscuits. The recipe creates a wet biscuit dough that you have to scoop and squeeze into a cake or pie pan. I didn’t understand the appeal of biscuits until I interviewed Corriher and made these biscuits.

The Zuni Café Cookbook

The Zuni Café Cookbook

By Judy Rodgers

Salting. I don’t know if Rodgers was the first to talk about salting proteins in a cookbook, but she certainly was an authority whom many professionals trusted and cited as the source of their own practice. Her story and the story of Zuni were important to have recorded. But it’s the section on salting – and the Zuni Cafe roast chicken recipe with bread salad – that taught me some cooking principles that have extended beyond the covers of this book.

Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

By Deborah Madison

I didn’t appreciate the spectrum of vegetables and vegetable cooking until I met Madison and this book. I grew up eating many stir-fried Asian vegetables and didn’t have a perspective on the wide-world of other greens, roots, and herbs, and the plethora of ways to prepare them. Madison opened that world for me. I have always appreciated her groundedness in her recipe and cookbook writing.

Hot Sour Salty Sweet

Hot Sour Salty Sweet

By Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid

Balancing flavors and textures is intrinsic to the Chinese cooking I had always known. Alford and Duguid’s book expanded the landscape of my understanding. I knew that these flavors and principles weren’t exclusive to Chinese cooking, but I didn’t know how universal their application was. That they traveled with their family and photographed their journeys modeled what was possible: that culinary wanderlust, curiosity, scholarship, and publishing could combine with raising a family.

Barefoot In Paris

Barefoot In Paris

By Ina Garten

Her recipes are always approachable and always work. I had studied French in school, but the small town where I grew up did not have any proper French bistros or bakeries where I could explore the cuisine. I was not of the Julia Child generation, so I didn’t learn to appreciate her body of work until much later. Garten’s style and approach resonated with me when I was first learning about simple French cooking. I learned how to make profiteroles and gougeres from Garten. I appreciate her intentional effort to always put people at ease in the kitchen. That has influenced how I teach cooking.

The Breath of a Wok

The Breath of a Wok

By Grace Young and Alan Richardson

The title alone is everything. Proper wok cooking requires high heat and the “breath” of the wok is the telltale flavor note in a stir fry that you want to achieve. Young has been an authority on sharing cooking methods and stories from Chinese cooks around the world. She helped pave the way for another generation of Chinese-cookbook authors, including me. This book also introduced me to artisan, hand-hammered woks. Were it not for Young’s work to document this tradition, some of the names of artisans might have been lost to gentrification.

From a Breton Garden

From a Breton Garden

I didn’t know Araldo, but chef Robert Reynolds was one of my best friends before he died of cancer. I met Reynolds when we both were living and working in Denver in the late 1990s. He was a cooking instructor in a couple of professional programs and I was a novice food writer at The Denver Post. I learned from him that any given ingredient has a story to tell and that it can sing. Because Araldo was his mentor and Reynolds was the co-author, this book represents a meaningful transfer of culinary knowledge and history.