OP: The House of Chan Cookbook
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The House of Chan was a Chinese restaurant once located at the prime corner of 52nd Street and 7th Avenue in Manhattan. Sou Chan, the owner and chef, began his career as a dishwasher after arriving in the United States in 1928. Ten years later, he used his life’s savings to open a restaurant—one that became wildly popular and remained open for decades.
This 1952 cookbook, like the restaurant, served to make accessible to the American palate and kitchen the Cantonese food of Chan’s childhood. You will find egg rolls—including a dough recipe modified for ingredient availability; soft shell crabs steamed in a garlicky, pork and soy sauce broth; beef and tomato lo mein; several variations on chop suey; and, for dessert, perhaps preserved quinces with raisins and blanched almonds or a peanut, puffed rice, and sesame seed brittle.
An appendix offers menu suggestions and ingredient substitutions.
Our copy could be described as Near Fine regarding the book block; however, liquid damage to the exterior has affixed the dust jacket to the cloth boards underneath. Fortunately, the vibrant red color of the cover and its text remain sharp, save for the moderately light faded spine. Later printing.
We are especially delighted to report that this volume was once in the collection of Maine based artist and educator Beverly Hallam (1923–2013). Sou Chan signed on the front free endpaper: “To The most talented girl in New England, Beverly. Sou Chan”. Included with the volume are affectionate letters on House of Chan stationery from Chan to Hallam, one of which mentions the artist’s longtime friend Mary-Leigh Smart. Also laid in are a shipping label from the oldest operating store in New York City’s Chinatown, Wing On Wo, addressed to Smart’s cousin, and three photographs—two of Sou Chan and one of his wife, Viola. The collection paints an intimate picture of a close friendship between the artist and chef. Enchanting.