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Sam Choy's Polynesian Kitchen: More Than 150 Authentic Dishes from One of the World's Most Delicious and Overlooked Cuisines [Hardcover]

Sam Choy
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 10 2002
With several acclaimed cookbooks to his credit, Sam Choy, already Hawaii's most recognized chef, is a rising star on the Mainland as well. Sam's newest book is the first major collection of recipes focusing on the islands of the South Pacific. Forget pupu platters and silly drinks -- these high-flavor, low-fuss dishes, drawn from Sam's own travels through Polynesia, represent the islands eclectic cuisine, which borrows techniques and tastes from Europe, China, and India, but is unique unto itself. From Coconut Lemongrass Baby Back Ribs and Pacific Gazpacho with Baby Shrimp to Cinnamon Chicken and Tahitian Nioise Salad, Sam's penchant for fresh and simple-to-make food shines through each winning recipe. Sixteen pages of beautiful photographs, his lively commentary, and an innovative, colorful design will inspire cooks of all skill levels to try this wonderfully flavorful and underappreciated cuisine.


Product Details


Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Hawaiian chef and restaurant owner Choy (Sam Choy's Island Flavors) brings to the table his island tales and food with this delightful new volume. Filled with anecdotes and photographs of his visits and the food memories associated with each voyage, he travels as far south as New Zealand, taking in along the way such far-reaching islands as Samoa, Tonga and Tahiti. Starting with a very full section covering the ingredients used throughout the book, Choy discusses the various culinary influences: from the Chinese in Fiji and Samoa and the French in the Marquesas, to the Indian British impact throughout the regions. Whether it's the Ginger-Scallion Fried Rice from Fiji, or the piquant sweet-sour flavors of the Kau'u Orange-Ginger Chicken from Hawaii, the recipes offer simple techniques and full fresh flavors. Cooks will recognize the many staple ingredients such as orange juice and coconut milk, which appear regularly throughout the book in such combinations as Baked Snapper with Orange-Coconut Sauce of the Marquesas, or Samoan Coconut Rice and Baked Banana Vanilla Custard from Tahiti. In bringing together the groups of recipes, Choy conveys a light yet satisfying cuisine that enchants the taste buds and expands one's knowledge of Polynesian cuisine.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

A well-known Hawaiian chef with restaurants around the world, Choy grew up in a small town that he describes as "a hotbed of pan-Polynesian culture." His friends hailed from all of the seven Pacific Island nations (Fiji, Hawaii, the Marquesas, New Zealand, Samoa, Tahiti, and Tonga), and the foods their families served are part of his childhood memories. For his latest book, Choy traveled extensively throughout Polynesia, meeting both home cooks and other chefs and sampling their wonderful food. The culture and cuisine of Pacific Island nations are unique, having been shaped by both the indigenous islanders and the various European and Asian colonists who settled there. The three predominant cuisines in Tonga, for example, are Tongan, Chinese, and Italian, while the food in Fiji includes the traditional local dishes as well as Chinese, European, and Indian fare. Choy presents recipes for both traditional and contemporary dishes, adding his own spin to many of them; most of his recipes are quite easy, and although some of the ingredients may be a bit difficult to come by, he provides detailed descriptions of the more unfamiliar ones and suggests substitutions whenever possible. The only caveat is that the recipe instructions are somewhat abbreviated; less-experienced cooks would welcome more guidance. Still, this is an accessible and groundbreaking introduction to tantalizing, previously unexplored exotic fare. An essential purchase.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Sam Choy's Polynesian Kitchen Feb. 18 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Nice dishes in the book and also accompanied with good stories of the people he met on his travels to create the book.
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Format:Hardcover
'Sam Choy's Polynesian Kitchen' does several things right in a sincere attempt to promote the cuisine of the South Pacific Islands; however, it falls short of convincing me that the food preparation traditions of widely scattered island groups forms an 'overlooked cuisine' as claimed by the book's subtitle.
At it's heart, I suspect this is primarily a book like Emeril Lagasse's latest, designed to promote interest in the author's establishments in Hawaii. As with Emeril's book, this does not mean it is a poor cookbook. Let's look at what the book does right:
First, there is an excellent description of a wide range of Polynesian foodstuffs. While many may simply be beyond a mainland American's ability to find without extraordinary effort, most are available from Hispanic or Oriental or East Indian sources. There is a clue here that the claimed 'Polynesian cuisine' may be a fairly derivative practice, borrowing heavily from Spanish and English explorers and Asian immigrants. This survey of foodstuffs includes substitutions, but the number of items where no reasonable substitution is available is rather high. At least one substitution of 'yams' for 'sweet potatoes' is suspect. The author makes no note about the ambiguity between the African white starchy yams and the misplaced name for New World sweet potatoes.
Second, almost all recipe directions are very short. Most are short because they are simple. Many are short because the author seems to skimp on some important details, such as reasonable tests of doneness. A recipe for fried squid, for example, gives no warning whatsoever that cooking for more than one or two minutes can produce a good imitation of rubber bands.
Third, the stories of how the author came by some of his recipes are engaging and well written.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great Book, Lots of unusual Recipes May 21 2003
Format:Hardcover
I am a big fan of Sam Choy Cookbooks, so this is a bit biased.
Here, about half of the book covers the Marquesas, Samoa, Fiji, and other pacific island cuisines... but the book is at its best when it covers Hawaii. Most of Sam's signature dishes are here, including his poke and macadamia nut pie recipes. The pictures are sparse, but vibrant with many presentation ideas. Most impressive is the substitution index and ingrediant descriptions which are a hallmark for his books. If you want a survey of pacific cuisine, this is the book for you. Almost all of the recipes are excellent (8 out of 10 are really good, on average), and the procedures and processes are described for the non-islander in enough detail to actually make the dishes. Mmmm... makes me hungry just thinking about it...
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Book, Lots of unusual Recipes May 21 2003
By Don Riddick - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I am a big fan of Sam Choy Cookbooks, so this is a bit biased.
Here, about half of the book covers the Marquesas, Samoa, Fiji, and other pacific island cuisines... but the book is at its best when it covers Hawaii. Most of Sam's signature dishes are here, including his poke and macadamia nut pie recipes. The pictures are sparse, but vibrant with many presentation ideas. Most impressive is the substitution index and ingrediant descriptions which are a hallmark for his books. If you want a survey of pacific cuisine, this is the book for you. Almost all of the recipes are excellent (8 out of 10 are really good, on average), and the procedures and processes are described for the non-islander in enough detail to actually make the dishes. Mmmm... makes me hungry just thinking about it...
17 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Honest Picture of Polynesian Food. Not exactly haute cuisine Jan. 12 2004
By B. Marold - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
`Sam Choy's Polynesian Kitchen' does several things right in a sincere attempt to promote the cuisine of the South Pacific Islands; however, it falls short of convincing me that the food preparation traditions of widely scattered island groups forms an `overlooked cuisine' as claimed by the book's subtitle.
At it's heart, I suspect this is primarily a book like Emeril Lagasse's latest, designed to promote interest in the author's establishments in Hawaii. As with Emeril's book, this does not mean it is a poor cookbook. Let's look at what the book does right:
First, there is an excellent description of a wide range of Polynesian foodstuffs. While many may simply be beyond a mainland American's ability to find without extraordinary effort, most are available from Hispanic or Oriental or East Indian sources. There is a clue here that the claimed `Polynesian cuisine' may be a fairly derivative practice, borrowing heavily from Spanish and English explorers and Asian immigrants. This survey of foodstuffs includes substitutions, but the number of items where no reasonable substitution is available is rather high. At least one substitution of `yams' for `sweet potatoes' is suspect. The author makes no note about the ambiguity between the African white starchy yams and the misplaced name for New World sweet potatoes.
Second, almost all recipe directions are very short. Most are short because they are simple. Many are short because the author seems to skimp on some important details, such as reasonable tests of doneness. A recipe for fried squid, for example, gives no warning whatsoever that cooking for more than one or two minutes can produce a good imitation of rubber bands.
Third, the stories of how the author came by some of his recipes are engaging and well written. They are easily one of the better parts of the book.
Fourth is the glossary of Polynesian words.
Fifth, the book presents the recipes by island group, including dishes from the seven groups of Fiji, Hawaii, The Marquesas, New Zealand, Samoa, Tahiti, and Tonga.
The book's shortcomings are most prominent in it's trying to make the `Polynesian cuisine' more than it really is. For starters, many of the recipes are Sam Choy's own invention. I don't hold that against the quality of the recipes, only the believability of the book's premise. Then, almost all staples such as curry and soy sauce are imports, primarily from Asia. There are no classic Polynesian products.
I am puzzled especially by the dishes from Tonga where there are several with distinctly Italian origins such as Caponata, Polenta, and Pane (bread in Italian). Choy gives no explanation of this connection. New Zealand's being included in the list also puzzles me. The influence here is so overwhelmingly English and the landmass supports so much more varied foodstuffs that it doesn't seem to fit the archipelago model of the other six island groups.
Lastly, I find it hard to take a cuisine seriously where one of the more important sources of protein is canned corned beef. This doesn't surprise me, as this product is also an important foodstuff in the Philippines.
If you are of Polynesian extraction, this book will be a great resource. If you are simply in the market for a new, unusual cuisine, I suggest you try Moroccan cuisine or Turkish cuisine.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sam Choy's Polynesian Kitchen Jan. 12 2007
By Lil Jeff - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The book was well written and very informative. It included a whole section on ingriedients indigineous to the islands of the south pacific. The recipes were basically straight forward in their presentation and language and would be easily followed by even the novice cook. I purchased it solely for research on a polynesian event I am involved in and the book was informative.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Price, Wonderful book by Laie's own Sam Choy Sept. 21 2010
By Paula Ward - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The recipes I've tried so far are amazing, I love the descriptions of each of the islands and the brief histories of each dish. Can't wait to try Mary Jane's Killer Pineapple Pie--so cool that my math teacher, Mrs. Esera, is famous! But not as famous as Sam Choy. All my hometown favorites in one book, with the Choy flair and flavor.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This island food is ono-licious! Sept. 24 2007
By Janet Fonoimoana - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I love Sam's cookbooks! This one is particularly good because most of the recipes are "simple kine" everyday cooking for anyone who likes Hawaiian-local food. I love how he helps mainlanders know how to find or substitute the island ingredients. The introductions to each recipe are so fun to read and make me feel like we're sitting in his kitchen "talking story." Aloha!
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