I first met Fuchsia Dunlop about eight years ago when she was promoting her Sichuan Cookery, which went on to win the Jeremy Round Award for best first book.

She lives in London now, having spent her school days in North Oxford before going on to study at Sichuan University and later at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. It was a sub-editing job with the BBC that led her to take evening classes in Mandarin and eventually win a British Council scholarship to study for a year in the Sichuanese capital, Chengdu.

She became so besotted with the food that she was invited to enrol as a regular student at the Sichuan Institute of Higher Cuisine. She was the first Western woman to receive such an invitation.

On entering the Institute as a full- time student she was presented with a personal cleaver, two recipe books in Chinese and chef’s overalls, all of which signified the beginning of the exciting journey she was on.

Now this talented woman acts as a consultant, teacher, broadcaster, journalist and lecturer, spending much of her year in China where she continues to expand her knowledge of the Chinese cuisine.

Fuchsia’s latest book, Every Grain of Rice — Simple Chinese Home Cooking (Bloomsbury, £25), explores the way small quantities of meat can be added to a meal to bring flavour to a dish, rather than placing meat in the centre of the meal. Although Chinese cookery can be complicated when producing a banquet, the domestic recipes in this book avoid extravagant restaurant dishes and concentrate on celebrating China’s rich tradition of frugal, healthy and delicious home- cooked meals which are remarkably easy and quick to cook.

Once you have stocked your larder with a few basic ingredients — Soy sauce light and dark, Chinese brown rice vinegar, toasted sesame oil, chilli oil, dried chillies, whole Sichuan pepper, cassia bark, star anise, Shaoxing wine, potato flour, fresh ginger, garlic and spring onions, many of which can be bought in your local supermarket — it’s just a matter of following her recipes. But, as Fuchsia stresses, Chinese recipes are not about a rigid list of ingredients that must be followed faithfully. They provide an approach to cooking and eating that can be adapted to almost any place and any circumstance. If you don’t have Chinese vegetables in your larder, don’t worry; use a cabbage or English root vegetable instead and let the spices you toss into the wok to do their work.

She said: “Although I have tested all the recipes with precise amounts of ingredients and seasonings, many are so simple that the quantities are not critical. You can add a little more or less of this and that as you please once you have become familiar with the basic techniques.

Fuchsia is fascinated by the way modern dietary advice often echoes the age-old precepts of the Chinese cuisine: eat plenty of grains and vegetables and not much meat, reduce the consumption of animal fats and eat very little sugar. Such guidelines developed from economic necessity. Over the centuries, the Chinese have devised recipes that call for little more than vegetables, which are turned into a feast by careful addition of spices. This means that apart from tasting delicious, Chinese home-cooked meals have always followed the seasons. Fuchsia considers leafy greens to be one of the unsung joys of Chinese eating. “They are a vital and essential part of the Chinese diet. No Chinese home supper would be complete without them.”

She names blanched choy sum with sizzling oil as an example of a dish that only takes 15 minutes to make, but is beautiful enough to launch ships. It also tastes just as good if created from British purple sprouting. “Often when I cook dishes like this, created from fresh vegetables and hardly anything else at all, I admit wondering at the alchemy of it. How can such basic techniques and ingredients provide such mesmerising sensations of flavour?”

Towards the end of the book Fuchsia has devoted an entire section on planning a Chinese meal, which includes suggested serving quantities and table settings. In fact this book offers virtually everything that you will need to embark on a mouth-watering journey towards healthy eating. It is Fuchsia’s hope that we will all try cooking dishes from this collection for ourselves and in doing so come to love the magic that vegetables cooked the Chinese way can add to a meal. They certainly offer a tasty way of coming to terms with the required ‘five a day.’