You are right re a lot of recipe’s introduced to the US as Chinese cuisine served I n restaurant and fast food chains are to me, sickening sweet. It was invented for American palate.
I am fortunate enough to have bought a bag of Sichuan peppercorn that I often toast slightly before placing them in the burr grinder ( originally, for coffee but now, dedicated to grinding peppers) Often, I forget to toast them, so I just grind them. I did not notice any particular difference but alas, my son does not like the numbing sensation so I seldom use them.
Back home in the Philippines where I was born and grew up, we add this Szechuan peppercorn to very fine salt ( which was rare there then as our table salt was coarse sea salt ) , dip our fried squabs after spritzing it with lemon, another imported delicacy as there are no. lemons ( they substitute calamansi, similar to key lime) in the Philippines. This is often one of the courses in Fujian party called 'LAURIAT", celebration typically for wedding, engagement, birthday etc. Tradition is that no one is allowed around the table to touch the squab until the eldest around the table dips his chopstick into one of the squabs. We eat it , head and all. Mmmmm I can still taste the aroma.
One of the course is also Sea cucumber. I never liked that. The other course I fondly remember is abalone cooked with large chinese mushroom and baby bok choy.
When I first arrived in the US, I found those Mexican canned abalone to be over $100, usually in locked cabinets at the Chinese stores. I had only used it once here when an uncle came to visit. Later, I found some very reasonable canned abalone available from the Asian store for around $10.99. They are also from Mexico, in those pinkish orange label almost similar to the overpriced abalones .They are just as tasty , soft, the only difference would be the size. I buy them, slice abalone into thin quarter inch or so, save the juice ( one of the best part), reconstitute and saute my mushroom adding ginger, garlic etc and soy sauce as well as a bit of cider vinegar, add the bok choy, correct the seasoning, then a very small amount of chicken broth perhaps, half a cup or so, a bit of cornstarch or I use exclusively sweet potato starch to thicken very slightly, then when the starch is cooked, add my abalone and the broth, add sesame oil. I still serve them to myself or my chinese relatives as son does not eat mushroom on Christmas and or new Year. If you like authentic chinese food not served at restaurants, this is one fo them. Just remember not to add the very soft abalone and the juice until the last minute or it gets tough.
I remember being in Carmel a few times, wanting to eat abalone . Well, they serve that there but my husband would always be disappointed and would say to the waiter" Tell the chef to try my wife’s recipe for abalone. This is tough, and tasteless"
Interesting about that book, wander if there is a recipe for pig or calves brain, deep fried after rolling in some kind of starch, perhaps sweet potato flour, served piping hot with powdered sugar. This is often dessert including almond float and lychee which I am serving today when my son and his guests arrives from their weekend outing. However, I just realized one of the guests is vegan, and may not eat it as gelatin is from pig’s or cow’s protein.