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Carolyn Phillips is fluent in Chinese, having lived and worked in Taiwan for eight years. Her appreciation of everything from Chinese haute cuisine to street snacks provided her with rare entrée into local society. She met and dined with gourmands and scholars there who helped her understand the nuances of China’s varied cuisines, and discussed dishes with famous epicures such as the renowned artist Chang Dai-chien. She also pestered proprietors of local restaurants and food stalls into handing over their family recipes and secret techniques.

Following her return to the States, Phillips became a Mandarin interpreter for the state and federal courts, working with attorneys on multimillion-dollar lawsuits and federal cases.

During her off hours she ferreted out traditional recipes and classic cooking styles. Phillips retired from the courts five years ago to devote herself fully to food writing. Her upcoming book on Chinese cuisine will be published by McSweeney's in 2014. Her work can also be found in such well-known food writing venues as Lucky Peach and Pork Memoirs.

You can follow Phillips on her blog, MadameHuang.com, as well as on Facebook and Twitter (@MadameHuang). An accomplished artist with a junior black belt in kickboxing, she is a member of the IACP and lives in California with her husband of three decades, the author J. H. Huang.

Hachiya persimmon cake

My mom's mom used to bake a persimmon cake every year for Christmas dinner. On the big day, mouthwatering aromas of spice and fruit

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Taking a Chinese approach to a recipe from a cookbook by Julia Child and Jacques Pépin. Credit: Carolyn Phillips

Over the years, we've come to enjoy our Christmas turkey feasts with more than a bit of Chinese flair. I usually glaze the bird

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Chinese Muslim-style chicken livers and green onions. Credit: Carolyn Phillips

Chopped liver is a staple on many a Jewish family's Hanukkah table, but why not try something different this year? I'd like to suggest

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Carolyn Phillips

Not too long ago, I was treated to an authentic Shanghainese dinner by the great cookbook author Florence Lin. We dined at a restaurant

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Cantonese fried custard. Credit: Carolyn Phillips

Custard is treated with special respect in South China. Sweet or savory, steamed or baked, simple or fancy: This is the place where eggs

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Hakka chicken, the bird with its seasonings before cooking. Credit: Carolyn Phillips

One of the most classic dishes in the Hakka repertoire, salt-baked chicken is also incredibly delicious. Rarely available anywhere outside of the homes of

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Tianjin lacy potstickers. Credit: Carolyn Phillips

Potstickers have become commonplace at Asian and fusion restaurants in the States, but most patrons of such establishments have no idea that the dumplings

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Author Patricia Tanumihardja and "The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook."

It used to be that Asian foods served in American restaurants had to be Anglicized into submission, leading to such hybrid creations as fried

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