Growing up in the 1980s, I always looked forward to weekends in New York City with my mother where she’d introduce me to new and exciting foods and cuisines. Two restaurants I remember fondly from those days were Shun Lee West and Shun Lee Palace, which at the time were highly popular and well-regarded for their exceptional Chinese dishes. Shun Lee truly elevated Chinese food to a “fine dining experience”, introducing New Yorkers to the cuisines of the Yangzhou-Sichuan and Shanghai regions. Indeed, it’s certainly where I first learned to love dim sum and classic dishes like Crispy Orange Beef, Scallion Pancakes, Dan-Dan Noodles and Sweet and Sour Pork.
Those dishes might today seem like take-out food cliches, but when prepared properly—the way they would be served at the Shun Lee restaurants—they were always a complete delight and revelation. So imagine my excitement to discover “The Shun Lee Cookbook”, published in 2007 by current restaurant executive chef and owner Michael Tong. This cookbook presents the recipes for these classic Shun Lee dishes and so much more, all in easy-to-follow instructions for the home chef.
Since getting the book it has absolutely become my favorite Chinese cookbook that I own. I’ve had great success preparing delicious meals and side dishes like Steamed Scallops with Black Bean Sauce, Hot and Sour Cabbage, Sichuan Eggplant, Lobster Cantonese, Chengdu Chicken and Salmon Filet with Scallions (some of these are pictured above). I’m looking forward to trying more restaurant favorites like Sweet-and-Sour Crispy Red Snapper, Velvet Chicken and Corn Soup, and Mu Shu Pork as I have the time.
The recipes might seem a little intimidating at first, but once you get the basics down they are no more complicated or difficult than those from other cuisines. Most of the ingredients used can be found at any good supermarket, with perhaps a few exceptions you might need to order online or track down at an Asian grocer (fermented black beans, lotus root, Chinese dried black mushrooms.) Best of all, you can surprise your family by preparing their favorite Chinese restaurant dishes at home, with fresher and more healthy, tasty results!Buy Now