A Grinnell Student’s Guide to Chinese Cooking

May 24, 2021

For their final project in Chinese 288, Chinese Food for Thought, Claudia Handal ’21, Ethan Pannell ’21, and Kat St. Martin-Norburg ’23 decided to make a cookbook, A Grinnell Student's Guide to Chinese Cooking (pdf).

“We wanted to create a tangible and practical project that reflected the themes and lessons introduced throughout our class,” they wrote in the cookbook’s preface. 

And despite working from three different locations — Grinnell, Minneapolis/St. Paul, and New Orleans — they succeeded.

“I am impressed that they were able to create a feasible cookbook with great visuals, all done by themselves, while working from three different locations,” says Professor Jin Feng, who taught the course virtually during the second spring term of 2021. “I think it shows innovation and resilience during the pandemic.”

The students want the cookbook to be useful, so it “features recipes that use ingredients that are found at Grinnell grocery stores, substituting rarer ingredients like Sichuan peppercorns or fermented tofu in favor of more easily found ingredients.”

Each recipe is also rated in terms of its ease of preparation. The recipe below is a “Level 2,” meaning that some cooking experience is helpful. 

About their tomato egg drop soup recipe, the students wrote: “Many Grinnellians love to spend their summers in town doing research or enjoying the Iowa life. This soup is the perfect dish to diversify your cooking and take advantage of the farmers market tomato selection.”

bowl of tomato egg drop soup

Tomato Egg Drop Soup


2 tablespoons of oil
10 ounces tomatoes, cut into small chunks
1 cup chicken stock
2 cups water (or more chicken stock)
2 teaspoons light soy sauce
½ teaspoon sesame oil
¼ teaspoon white pepper
Salt to taste
1 egg, beaten
1 ½ teaspoons cornstarch, mixed with 2 tablespoons water
1 finely chopped scallion
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, optional


  1. Heat the oil in a pot or wok over medium-low heat. Add the tomato chunks and stir-fry for 5 minutes until the tomatoes are softened and start to fall apart.
  2. Add in the chicken stock, water, light soy sauce, sesame oil, ground white pepper, and salt to taste. Bring to a boil, and then lower the heat so that the soup is simmering with the lid on.
  3. Quickly beat the egg in a small bowl and prepare the cornstarch slurry in a separate bowl.
  4. Use a ladle to slowly swirl the soup in a whirlpool motion. Keep swirling as you pour in the cornstarch slurry until well incorporated. Now pour a thin stream of egg into the middle of the whirlpool as you slowly swirl the soup.
  5. Serve hot or at room temperature. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with chopped scallions and cilantro, if using.

We use cookies to enable essential services and functionality on our site, enhance your user experience, provide better service through personalized content, collect data on how visitors interact with our site, and enable advertising services.

To accept the use of cookies and continue on to the site, click "I Agree." For more information about our use of cookies and how to opt out, please refer to our website privacy policy.