Lemongrass and Ginger Cookbook: Vibrant Asian Recipes Hardcover – Apr 1 2012
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About the Author
Leemei Tan is a recipe writer, food stylist and photographer. Born in Malaysia, she lives in London and travels extensively, sharing both her recipes and travel experiences in her food blog, www.mycookinghut.com, which is currently attracting 50,000 visitors and 250,000 page views per month. She has been interviewed by the New York Times and was featured in Grazia magazine as one of the best female food bloggers in the world. She has had recipes published in the BBC's Olive magazine and contributes to several publications, including Flavours magazine in South-east Asia.
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Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Yes, this book is not another version of fast meals with three ingredients, thank God. On the contrary, here we have real respect for cuisines and the traditions and people who created the recipes over time. Who would want anything less?
One other recipe I love is Leemei's version of Cha Ca La Vong. I don't see this recipe in many Vietnamese cookbooks, so it's great Leemei includes it. You make a spice paste for the fish and the result is delicious -- not overpowering but just right. And the combination of noodles, spicy fish, basil, dill, chives, chopped peanuts, all with a sweet-sour-spicy sauce of nuoc cham makes for a great combination of textures and flavors.
So the book really delivers. Great job, Leemei!
I love Asian food. Ginger is one of those things that I just love, but yet I rarely cook with it. My family, you see, is Exhibit A in the case for picky eaters. But I've learned that I can get some food by them if I'm not quite honest about its ingredients.
Let's begin by talking about the recipes. Leemei Tan presents food from Japan & Korea, China, Philippines & Indonesia, Malaysia & Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia & Vietnam, and India & Sri Lanka. As I looked through her offerings, I thought I would start with something I knew my family would eat: chicken teriyaki. If you've like me and think teriyaki is something you buy bottled, then you must try Tan's recipe. It's homemade! From scratch! And it's easy! Even better, it tastes really, really good. Not only can you find the ingredients in most supermarkets - if they've got it in my one horse town, they'll have it in yours - but Tan extends the meal from just chicken to chicken with rice and spinach. Yummalicious.
Next, I tried Bibimbap, only because it features a fried egg on it. I can sell anything to my husband and three screaming kids if it has a fried egg on it. This is a bowl with beef, rice, mushroom, carrot sticks, spinach and bean sprouts, with that egg on top. And it tastes really good. The prep work takes a bit - you will be chopping for more than a few minutes - but it's worth it. The soy sauce taste doesn't take away from the beef and veggies.
I figured I should go for a dessert, and the Sri Lankan Crispy Pancakes looked interesting. I struggled with this one, only because the pancake is similar to a crepe in terms of how much of the stuff you put in the pan. But the batter has yeast in it and it not as runny as crepe batter is. You put some coconut and sugar on the pancakes to make them sweet, or you can use an fried egg. I haven't tried the fried egg version yet, but I will. I might also try some semisweet chocolate chips on the pancakes, just because I'm curious if I can add chocolate to the mix.
The photos are clean and clear, and the recipes are approachable. If you need a sauce, Tan provides the recipe. There are not hundreds of recipes, either, which I liked, because it made it easier to determine which ones I wanted to try first.
If you think that Asian cooking is intimidating, you need to re-think that notion. Leemei Tan's Lemongrass and Ginger delivers recipes that you can prepare and, even better, taste good.
The only reason this gets 4 stars instead of 5 is that most of the recipes will not go over well with my picky eating family. Everything I tried, though, earns 5 stars.
Asian or asiatic-style cooking is a popular pursuit and it shows no sign of diminishing in popularity. Different people have different reasons or goals for their love of making asian food, such as taste, healthiness, diversity and the use of uncommon ingredients. Whatever your reasons, this new book takes many of the best bits from around the region to present over 100 vibrant recipes that you can make at home.
This is no "make what you know and love from your favourite Chinese/Thai/etc restaurant"-type book but a more enlightened, open look at typical cuisine with the aim of informing, educating and inspiring you to make your own dishes. Once you master them and gain more confidence you will invariably try more and more dishes as well as maybe unknowingly tinkering here and there and maybe doing a bit of fusion-cooking to boot.
After an introduction to the author, the styles of food, cultures and her cooking hut (a wonderful term that, for some reason, really made an impact to this reviewer) it is onto the recipes, divided by "host" country rather than by ingredient. So first up is Japan and Korea followed by China, Philippines & Indonesia, Malaysia & Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia & Vietnam and finally India and Sri Lanka. Some generic across-the-board recipes then round the book off with a succinct glossary and customary index.
Each chapter begins with a brief country-specific overview that highlights the key differences and plus-points to the sub-genre and one is cast straight into the recipes. Each recipe is standalone, accompanied by a glossy picture of the finished item, and apart from a brief recipe overview and advice you are left to your own devices. This is not as daunting as it sounds as the recipe gives very detailed, yet friendly, instructions and there is a separate breakout section for the ingredients. An estimated preparation and cooking time is provided which is, as regular YUM readers may note, something we strongly believe should appear in every cookbook.
The colour photography in this book is particular of interest, primarily because of its relative uniqueness. Of course, this is not the first book to photograph dishes in a sort of culturally-aware background, but the photographer has managed to make the dishes stand out without them actually trying to stand out. A difficult thing to explain unless you have the book in front of you, but the dishes and pictures look so natural, not posed, not trying to be culturally-aware, not trying to be arty. It is with this in mind that it was a little disappointing to note that this hardback book was already starting to come apart after very light use - hopefully our review copy had a specific binding problem rather than it being a wider issue, but check your bindings carefully when you buy this book. Note the "when you BUY" bit...
This is a very impressive book that manages to provide a good taste (groan!) of dishes from many Asian lands. Yet it is all presented in a very matter-of-fact way as if this is the most normal thing in the world (to the author, born in Malaysia, it probably is). This relaxed, common sense approach can also help relax the nervy beginner as you are not filled full of foreboding or expectation that what you are about to make is difficult to do. It isn't. Follow the recipe carefully, use the specified ingredients, enjoy yourself and things will turn out well.
It would be nice to see in the future a range of books in this self-same style, perhaps focussing on one Asian country and its food at a time. There more detail can be provided along with more recipes and this would allow the reader who has identified a particular country's dishes as being of a "greater favourite" to further pursue that aim.
As it stands this is a great book that just feels right on so many levels. By treating the food and the cooking experience as "nothing special" the author has managed to produce something rather special as a result.