This book is not about the cuisine of merely one country, but represents a mosaic of many provinces making up a great empire. It is based on powerful traditions of peasant, aristocratic, and philosophical roots (many of the recipes and their ingredients have their origins in Tao diets more than 2000 years ago). For quite some time now, Chinese food has been accepted all over the world as being well suited to the pressures of everyday modern life. Chinese restaurants have become part of our daily lives and many refined and authentic recipes have worked their way into home cooking. Chinese cooking admirably fits today's needs: fast preparation, fresh and authentic flavors, and low calories. In addition, most ingredients are easy to find anywhere. We are even beginning to differentiate Chinese cooking by different regions: Canton has its steamed dumplings, Shanghai its fried raviolis, Szechuan its spicy dishes and sesame noodles, and Beijing its ducks and small steamed bread. We invite you to open these pages and discover the delicious culinary treats of the Middle Empire.