Second Saturdays – Oct 2015

Text by Jee Leong Koh and photos by Guy E. Humphrey

October 10: The Second Saturdays Reading Series opened its third season in New York City with a delicious treat. The featured author Kian Lam Kho spoke about his new cookbook Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees: Essential Techniques of Authentic Chinese Cooking (Clarkson Potter, 2015). The talk was followed by a sampling of Chinese dishes from the beautifully illustrated hardback.




Kian had an interesting story to tell. He first trained as an aerospace engineer and then he developed computer software on Wall Street for 20 years. During this time, he could never find in NYC the Chinese food that he loved while growing up in Singapore. He wrote home for the recipes, apprenticed in the kitchen of Chef Josh Capon at Canteen (now Lure Fishbar), and researched the history and techniques of Chinese cooking, even going to China to interview chefs in the big cities of Beijing and Shanghai as well as the historical city of Chang’an, a UNESCO heritage site. The result of all the work is a wonderful book with 158 recipes for the dishes that he has perfected over the years. Illustrated with 240 photographs, including step-by-step technique shots and inspiring images, the volume also includes a history of Chinese cooking and an explanation of regional cuisines. Publishers Weekly describes the book as “a superb tutorial on Chinese cooking.”

After the talk, everyone enjoyed tasting four different dishes. An especial favorite was the red braised pork. We were hosted by Kian’s friends, Troy and Alice, in their lovely Morningside Park brownstone. As always, the mood was casual and friendly, as introductions were exchanged and friends reconnected after the summer hiatus. In November, A. Naomi Jackson will read from her debut novel The Star Side of Bird Hill on November 14. We will be bringing back our potluck and open reading. If you’d like to be added to the mailing list, please contact Jee at or Paul at All are welcomed.


Kian speaking

Kho Kian Lam speaking

red braised pork


Kian signing

Kian Lam Kho signing Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees: Essential Techniques of Authentic Chinese Cooking

About Jee Leong Koh

My book of poems Steep Tea (Carcanet) was named a Best Book of 2015 by UK's Financial Times, and a Finalist by Lambda Literary. I also wrote three other books of poems and a book of zuihitsu. My work has been shortlisted for the Singapore Literature Prize, and translated into Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Russian and Latvian. Originally from Singapore, I live in New York City, where I edit the arts blog Singapore Poetry, and run the Second Saturdays Reading Series and the Singapore Literature Festival in NYC.

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