13 books directly related to Chinese food 📚

All 13 Chinese food books as recommended by authors and experts. Updated weekly.

Book cover of The Banquet Bug

The Banquet Bug

By Geling Yan,

Why this book?

Released in my native Britain as The Uninvited, Yan’s novel offers an unexpected angle on Chinese food by presenting the banquet as the place in China where alliances are forged, deals are done, and palms are greased. Her hero is a member of the Beijing underclass who somehow finds himself gate-crashing big society feasts. Pretending to be a journalist ready to be “entertained”, he discovers food he never dreamed of, but also comes to develop a sense of social responsibility. He starts to inhabit the part he is playing, and becomes not an uninvited guest, but a crusader on the…

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The best books on Chinese food

Book cover of The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking: Including an Unorthodox Chapter on East-West Desserts and a Provocative Essay on Wine

The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking: Including an Unorthodox Chapter on East-West Desserts and a Provocative Essay on Wine

By Barbara Tropp,

Why this book?

An authoritative overview of Chinese techniques, ingredients, and tools, and an exemplary selection of recipes, written by an American who studied in China and fell in love with the cuisine. Tropp brings an outsider’s perspective and an academic’s rigor to the study and teaching of Chinese cuisine. The recipes are meticulous and detailed, and the introductions and technique notes are informative and personal.

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The best Chinese cookbooks that have influenced my cooking

Book cover of The Breath of a Wok: Unlocking the Spirit of Chinese Wok Cooking Through Recipes and Lore

The Breath of a Wok: Unlocking the Spirit of Chinese Wok Cooking Through Recipes and Lore

By Grace Young, Alan Richardson,

Why this book?

An intimate and unique celebration of Chinese culture and food, expounded through an in-depth contemplation of the wok, one of the world’s most versatile cooking tools. Young teaches us how to choose a wok, how to care for it, and how to use it in myriad ways, not just for stir fry.

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The best Chinese cookbooks that have influenced my cooking

Book cover of Chinese Technique: An Illustrated Guide to the Fundamental Techniques of Chinese Cooking

Chinese Technique: An Illustrated Guide to the Fundamental Techniques of Chinese Cooking

By Ken Hom, Willie Kee, Harvey Steiman (photographer)

Why this book?

An excellent primer in the ingredients and techniques of Chinese cooking, with very instructive step by step photos from the pre youtube era by an experienced, knowledgeable and encouraging teacher. This book was one of the first Chinese cookbooks I acquired many years ago, and I still refer to it often.

From the list:

The best Chinese cookbooks that have influenced my cooking

Book cover of The Chinese Kitchen: Recipes, Techniques, Ingredients, History, And Memories From America's Leading Authority On Chinese Cooking

The Chinese Kitchen: Recipes, Techniques, Ingredients, History, And Memories From America's Leading Authority On Chinese Cooking

By Eileen Yin-Fei Lo,

Why this book?

It is difficult to choose just one of Eileen Yin-Fei Lo’s many books to recommend, but “Chinese Kitchen” is a great overview of Chinese cooking and food culture, with an excellent guide to ingredients, helpful photographs, and a well chosen array of recipes, ranging from simple home cooking to elaborate banquet dishes.

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The best Chinese cookbooks that have influenced my cooking

Book cover of Land of Plenty: A Treasury of Authentic Sichuan Cooking

Land of Plenty: A Treasury of Authentic Sichuan Cooking

By Fuchsia Dunlop,

Why this book?

Written by another westerner who studied in China and fell in love with the food, in this case the distinctive food of Szechuan. Once again an outsider’s perspective allows for a clear step-by-step introduction to the flavors and recipes of a complex and delicious cuisine.

From the list:

The best Chinese cookbooks that have influenced my cooking

Book cover of Chop Suey: A Cultural History of Chinese Food in the United States

Chop Suey: A Cultural History of Chinese Food in the United States

By Andrew Coe,

Why this book?

Chop Suey is the scholarly, entertaining story of how Chinese food found a home in America. It opens in 1784, as the Empress of China sets sail from New York to initiate U.S.-China trade. But not until the California Gold Rush, which drew waves of Chinese immigrants to San Francisco and eventually Chicago and New York, did Chinese vegetables and delicacies like birds’ nests and dried oysters arrive in this country. Soon, Chinese restaurants proliferated. Among the topics in this fascinating book are the Americanization of Chinese cuisine, its expansion into the suburbs and exurbs, and restaurant décor—juxtaposed with the…

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Book cover of Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China

Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China

By Fuchsia Dunlop,

Why this book?

In China there’s an expression that roughly translates, “It’s not a meal without alcohol.” The converse is equally true: Chinese alcohol yearns to be paired with food. This list would thus be incomplete without a book that seriously delves into Chinese food culture. And in many ways, my own journey into Chinese spirits was an unintentional compliment to Dunlop’s earlier book. We both learned from local experts, followed our respective passions around China, and spent the bulk of our time in the idyllic Sichuanese capital of Chengdu. I especially appreciate Dunlop’s willingness to explore uncomfortable cultural dissonances, and the compelling…
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The best books on Chinese alcohol and drinking culture

Book cover of From Canton Restaurant to Panda Express: A History of Chinese Food in the United States

From Canton Restaurant to Panda Express: A History of Chinese Food in the United States

By Haiming Liu,

Why this book?

It was hard finding just one book out of the many that have been written about Chinese food’s fortune’s abroad, but Liu ably chronicles a love-affair that is as old as the United States themselves, which begins with would-be rebels throwing chests of Fujian tea into Boston harbor. Liu points to the long history of Chinese in America, and the impact they have had as laborers, miners and cooks, particularly for low-income groups who welcomed the rarity of the warm hash dishes that came to be known as chop suey. This is a book that allows the reader the chance…

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The best books on Chinese food

Book cover of How to Cook and Eat in Chinese

How to Cook and Eat in Chinese

By Buwei Yang Chao,

Why this book?

First published in 1945, and reissued in many later editions, Chao’s book was immensely influential on the spread of American food in China. An academic and medical professional who fell into Chinese food-advocacy by accident, she presents a series of everyday recipes, “things for folk like you and me” that were nevertheless impossibly exotic at the time she was writing. Her book is a fascinating time capsule of attitudes and assumptions in the era before America could boast of a Chinese restaurant in every suburb, but also a no-nonsense cookbook for the beginner.

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Book cover of Science and Civilisation in China: Volume 6, Biology and Biological Technology, Part 5, Fermentations and Food Science

Science and Civilisation in China: Volume 6, Biology and Biological Technology, Part 5, Fermentations and Food Science

By H.T. Huang,

Why this book?

During the height of the Second World War, British biochemist Joseph Needham traveled across China with his assistant H.T. Huang to study Chinese scientific development, braving breakthroughs, and Japanese incursion along the way. Needham spent the next half-century compiling his findings into the Science and Civilization in China series, which rewrote our understanding of China’s place in world history. The story of its creation, and the colorful characters behind it, is memorably told in Simon Winchester’s The Man Who Loved China, a book that sadly had little to tell us about Chinese drinks. This volume, however, written by Huang,…

From the list:

The best books on Chinese alcohol and drinking culture

Book cover of Slippery Noodles

Slippery Noodles

By Hsiang Ju Lin,

Why this book?

Thick with Chinese-language citations, and seasoned heavily with recipes from the pages of history, Lin’s book is a real insider’s view of how it feels not only to taste Chinese food, but live inside the world it creates. She retells famous stories from the history of food in China, and quotes extensively from manuals that are otherwise unavailable to English-speaking readers. A wonderful buffet of a book, that you can pick at and graze upon for days.

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The best books on Chinese food

Book cover of A Culinary History of Taipei: Beyond Pork and Ponlai

A Culinary History of Taipei: Beyond Pork and Ponlai

By Steven Crook, Katy Hui-Wen Hung,

Why this book?

Despite the title, this is a history of the food of Taiwan, not just Taipei. The “ponlai” in the subtitle refers to a strain of rice developed in Taiwan during the Japanese colonial period, stickier and quicker maturing than the indica rice cultivated previously; and this specificity gives a good indication of the admirable depth the book goes into. There’s great breadth too, the authors covering almost everything you might be curious about, whether aboriginal crops or traditional banquet culture, religious food offerings, food folklore and prohibitions, the evolution of basic ingredients, and the origin stories of iconic dishes.

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