Asian grilling and more for the holidays

The list of good cookbooks featuring Asian food continues to grow, offering a wide selection of gift opportunities for food enthusiasts – both cooks and non-cooks. In this issue and the next we will explore just a few of the better ones, including newly published books along with classics still available through bookstores and websites. The first price shown is the cover price/the second is the price on www.amazon.com.

Asian Grilling,
Su-Mei Yu
William Morrow, 2002, $24.95/$17.71

Asian Grilling offers a welcome change for the avid barbecuer. With 85 satays, kebabs, skewers and other Asian-inspired barbecue recipes, Asian Grilling includes traditional Asian grilling of meat and fish along with a variety of other foods including flatbreads, fruit, vegetables, and even grilled sticky rice. Here cooked rice is combined with coconut cream and grilled in banana leaf pouches. The rice takes on the fruit flavors along with the charcoal smoke. Su-Mei Yu, chef/owner of the San Diego restaurant Saffron, won an International Association of Culinary Professional’s Cookbook Award in 2000 for her first book, Cracking the Coconut, another good gift choice. Asian Grilling is well written, beautifully illustrated, and filled with easy-to-understand recipes for even the most casual griller. There is even a Grilled Hamburger Salad for the die-hard burger king.

Mangoes and Curry Leaves
Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid
Artisan, 2005, $45/ $29.70

This award-winning husband-and-wife team creates large, jam-packed cookbooks filled with travel, cultural, and food information along with classic recipes and exquisite photos. Mangoes and Curry Leaves explores the cooking of Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Treat it as a coffee table book for paging through now and then, as a textbook on regional cooking, or a cookbook filled with a wide variety of traditional and modernized dishes. Their previous cookbooks include Hot Sour Salty Sweet: a journey through Southeast Asia - also a winner.

Washoku,
Elizabeth Andoh
Ten Speed Press, 2005, $35/$23.10

Washoku was one of three finalists in the James Beard Foundation 2006 International Cookbook awards. While the recipes may not look familiar to diners looking for typical U.S. Japanese restaurant fare, the adventurous cook will find ways to create something closer to actual Japanese home cooking, Washoku is an excellent guide with clearly written recipes combined with interesting information. Recipes run the gamut from soup to dessert and include a variety of color photos that entice the reader into trying the recipe. The 320-page hardbound edition is a good addition to any Japanese or Asian cookbook collection.

The Complete Asian Cookbook,
Charmaine Solomon
Charles Tuttle Company, $51.65/$39.39

The one cookbook I always recommend to the beginner looking for a variety of Asian cuisines is this tried and true cookbook. (More than 300,000 copies sold.) Written by Sri Lankan native, Charmaine Solomon, the book offers a glimpse into the traditions of cooking in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, The Philippines, China, Korea, and Japan. She introduces each area with background information and offers a variety of recipes to give diners a taste of traditional cuisines. First published in a hardbound edition in 1992, The Complete Asian Cookbook has had several revised editions including the current paperbound version available in local bookstores. Any edition makes a terrific gift and you may find them in used bookstores at bargain prices. One of my favorite dishes and one that everyone seems to enjoy is Chicken with Lemon Grass in the Vietnamese chapter.

Florence Lin’s Complete Book of Chinese Noodles, Dumplings and Breads
Florence Lin
William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1986, $19.95/$49.90

The price is not an error. This classic cookbook has increased in value in some markets and may be hard to find. Written by the grande dame of Chinese cookbook authors Florence Lin, it has been called the definitive edition on the subject of Chinese noodles and dumplings. It is my bible of noodle making and a great place to learn about Chinese dumplings and breads. As many of you know, Mrs. Lin has also been my teacher and mentor for over 30 years and the author of five other cookbooks including Florence Lin’s Chinese Regional Cookbook (1975), Florence Lin’s Chinese Vegetarian Cookbook (1976), Florence Lin’s Chinese One-Dish Meal Cookbook (1978), Florence Lin’s Cooking with Fire Pot (1979), and the Time Life Foods of the World, The Cooking of China (1968). Some of her cookbooks are available on www. amazon.com at very low prices…others have inflated in cost. They are all classics and will not be reissued so find the best quality copies you can and add them to your library. For the beginner or experienced cook Florence Lin’s Regional Cookbook is one of the best textbooks available and its recipes are absolutely delicious.

Crying Tiger: Thai Recipes for the Heart,
Supatra Johnson
Jasmine Market, 2004, $14.95

Thai cooking teacher and restaurateur Supatra Johnson offers a basic guide to the exotic food of her homeland. Chef/owner of Supatra’s Thai restaurant in St. Paul, Johnson presents classic renditions of Thai dishes along with some modernized versions. What child (or adult) would not love Stir-fried Pork with Peanut Curry Sauce combining peanut butter with pork. Or, try the title dish, Crying Tiger, grilled beefsteak with a Thai chili sauce. Available at some Asian markets, Crying Tiger is also on sale at Supatra’s restaurant and at www.supatra. com.

The Turmeric Trail: Recipes and Memories from an Indian Childhood,
Raghavan Iyer
St. Martin’s Trail, 2002, $32.50/$9.98

Local author Raghavan Iyer wrote this cookbook as a tribute to three generations of women in his family in Mumbai (Bombay) whose home cooking helped set him on his culinary journey. Iyer is co-founder of Asian Culinary Arts Institutes, teaches in culinary schools throughout the country, and in 2004, was named IACP’s Cooking Teacher of the Year. One of those influential women, his mother Alamelu, passed away in October and since many of the book’s recipes were hers, it will continue to honor her memory for years to come. Turmeric Trail explores the wide variety of vegetarian cooking in India as well as the many ways to use a myriad of Indian spices. Well written with easy-to-follow recipes, this is a classic textbook of South Indian cooking. In addition, its family memories offer a glimpse of home life in this bustling country and provide a background for greater appreciation of the foods of India. The book was one of three finalists for IACP’s International Cookbook Award in 2003. Iyer also wrote Betty Crocker’s Indian Home Cooking, another outstanding cookbook.

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