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Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet: A Culinary Journey Through Southeast Asia [Hardcover]

Jeffrey Alford , Naomi Duguid
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 31 2000
Recognizing that the wonderful flavours and tastes of Southeast Asia spill over national borders, Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid set out to eat their way through the Mekong region's towns and villages, large and small, collecting recipes, cooking techniques, stories and photographs. Hot Sour Salty Sweet is the glorious result of their travels in the region extending south from China, down through Cambodia to Vietnam and including parts of Laos, Burma and Thailand.

Dishes like Spicy Grilled Beef Salad and Vietnamese Chicken Salad with Fresh Herbs appear side by side with exotic treats like Jungle Curry from North Thailand and Pomelo Salad from Cambodia. There are simple warming soups, easy stir-fries and brilliant hot salsas. And for those with a taste for the sweet, desserts include the delectable Sweet Satin Custard and Bananas in Coconut Cream.

Throughout, the authors offer vivid descriptions of their days spent searching out the complex, seemingly contradictory flavours of hot, sour, salty and sweet and reveal the delightful shared culinary palate of the peoples of the Mekong.

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From Amazon

The Mekong region, which extends south from China through Laos and Thailand to Cambodia and Vietnam, offers extraordinary food. Hot Sour Salty Sweet, which takes its name from the principal taste sensations of the region's cooking, provides an unparalleled culinary journey through this fertile land. Though the book contains a wealth of anecdotal material, its great strength lies in its 175 recipes, explicit formulas for the likes of Shrimp in Hot Lime Leaf Broth, Lao Yellow Rice and Duck, and Hui Beef Stew with Chick Peas and Anise. The breadth and substance of this authentic yet approachable collection is truly exciting; readers who cook from the book (not difficult to do once ingredients are assembled and techniques understood), as well as those searching for the best kind of armchair travel, will be delighted.

Beginning with a discussion of the Mekong region, its people (a complicated mix, among them the Kai, Akha, and Cham), and their characteristic foods, the book then provides recipes organized by ingredients, dish types, and topics such as "Everyday Dependable," "One-Dish Meals," "Kids Like It," and "Vegetarian Options." This latter style of division helps define and "domesticate" a vast array of cooking, often enjoyed at times and places foreign to Westerners. Chapters devoted to such sweets as Tapioca and Corn Pudding with Coconut Cream, grilled specialties, and fare for adventurous cooks, such as Aromatic Steamed Fish Curry (more painstaking technically, though not truly difficult) further widen the book's scope. Illustrated throughout with 150 color photos and containing a comprehensive ingredient glossary, the book is a definitive point of entry to a mostly unexplored culinary port of call. --Arthur Boehm --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

With their usual ?lan, Alford and Duguid (Flatbreads and Flavors; Seductions of Rice) follow the Mekong River through southeast Asia (Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Burma and the Chinese Yunnan region) to bring home a trove of delicious, unusual recipes. Fans of their earlier books may be disappointed to see that their latest volume often revisits earlier themes. Still, there are enough uncommon recipes here to keep even the most inveterate cookbook reader discovering new flavor combinations. (Consider Vietnamese Baked Cinnamon P?t? and Smoked Fish and Green Mango.) As in their other books, the authors display a specificity and a knowledge of this part of the world that is staggering, as well as a heartfelt reverence for the foods that "real" people eat. Vietnamese Beef Ball Soup, for example, is commonly sold by street vendors, and Shan Salad with Cellophane Noodles was picked up from an acquaintance who lives on the Shan State-Thai border. The provenance of each recipe is provided so that readers may clearly distinguish between multifaceted Thai cuisine and French-influenced Vietnamese foods such as Saigon Subs on baguettes. One-page mini-essays on the pair's travel experiences are truly a treat; they cover topics such as fermented fish and the city of Vientiane. With this third book, Alford and Duguid prove that they are fast producing a body of work that commands serious admiration. The hypnotic black-and-white cover photo of a teapot in soft focus will have book buyers lingering in the aisles.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars outstanding in every way April 11 2002
By A. Wang
I too, am a cookbook collector. My shelves are so crowded now that I have to think very carefully about any new additions. Hot Sour Salty Sweet has exceeded all expectations. It is beautiful, educational, entertaining, not to mention that it has wonderful, accessible recipes that taste authentic. Overall, it is the single best cookbook that I have purchased in the last few years and I have gotten many good ones.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet Sept. 25 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is an excellent book with well described instructions for the recipes and fantastic photography!
Also wonderful explanations about the regions the authors visited. I love it!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sure book is fine but binding wasn't June 15 2003
My copy had at least a chapter upside down. That's unfortunate as it makes it difficult to use. Having said that, I've cooked 2 recipies so far and they've both been good. I would write in and ask about the chapter being upside down before ordering this book though.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic July 22 2010
I bought this book after being at a friend's place a few times for dinner. I asked about the recipes that she used and each time it was from this book. The book is more than just a cookbook of fantastic, authentic food. It is also a photo essay of Southeast Asia. The authors have spent much time traveling the area and add gorgeous photos and tales of their experiences. I highly recommend this book for food lovers.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and Usable May 22 2002
By A Customer
Alford and Duguid's book is beautiful, interesting, and the recipes are fantastic. Many of their recipes have become weekly standbys in my house. Their commentary is down to earth and helpful. I couldn't recommend this book highly enough for anyone interested in learning about or building a library in southeast asian cooking.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Book Jan. 21 2002
I can't cook because I can't quit looking at this book long enough to do so. Gorgeous print and photos. Bravo to the authors. Thank you for sharing your journey.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great combination of travelogue and cookbook Jan. 20 2002
Wonderful combination of travelogue and cookbook.
Incidentally as a note to one of the other reviewers, the coriander plant is known as cilantro in the US. Coriander root is simply the root part of cilantro or coriander - just buy cilantro with the roots left on.
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5.0 out of 5 stars AMAZING! Best Cookbook in my collection! Nov. 21 2001
I am, admittedly, a coockbook hoarder. I have them everywhere -- even in the drawers of my nightstand and tucked under the bed. I read them cover-to-cover like other people read novels.
Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet is, without a doubt, the best cookbook I have ever read. It is part travel novel, part anthropology lesson, and -- in large part -- a primer for westerners in Southeast Asian cuisine.
Easy to read, straightforward in instruction, its' only flaw is that -- in rare instances -- recipes may include items not available in even a metropolitan Asian market. (I have been to all of the Asian markets in Little Chinatown in Chicago and have yet to find coriander root!) But the ingredients are largely available at most Asian markets and even some larger supermarkets, and substitutions are often recommended.
The grilled chicken with hot and sweet dipping sauce has become a family favorite. The dipping sauce was so flavorful, so simple yet so complex in flavor -- I was surprised that I had made something so delicious.
Buy the book -- you won't be sorry!
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