Top positive review
A cookbook that makes you look forward to cooking dinner
on January 28, 2004
If you're a fan of East-West fusion cuisine, you will love this cookbook. Ming Tsai, acclaimed chef and public television cooking show host, has made his sophisticated, highly flavorful style accessible to the home cook by organizing the cookbook around about 30 "master" recipes - flavor bases that are made ahead, stored in the refrigerator or freezer, and then later used in a complete recipe. The flavor bases may involve some prep work (not the least of which is finding the ingredients - you'll need to go to an Asian market) and extended cooking, but once you make one, you can then prepare several seemingly complicated dishes in surprisingly little time.
The book is divided into the following sections: flavored oils and sauce; sambals, salsas, chutneys and pastes; dressings, dipping sauces, and marinades; syrups; broths; rubs and coatings; and doughs and desserts. Within each section, masters recipe are presented along with 2 or 3 complete recipes and some additional recipe ideas. For example, the soy-kaffir lime syrup I made tonight is used in chicken breast with glazed cauliflower, glazed salmon with lime sushi rice (yum!), and seared tuna with soba noodle salad. The book also contains an index that sorts recipes by main ingredient (chicken, seafood, etc.), descriptions of ingredients likely to be unfamiliar to Western cooks, a brief introduction to the main techniques used in the book, and an alphabetical index.
Instructions are straightforward. While some of the flavor bases require some "doing," the recipes themselves are mostly easy and quick enough for weeknight cooking. Each recipe is illustrated with a beautiful photograph of the completed dish and accompanied by a wine suggestion, ideas for ingredient substitutions, and cooking tips. One caveat: some of the quantities are not entirely reliable; the yield may turn out not to be what is indicated in the recipe. This is not a big problem if you are experienced enough to estimate the yield by looking at the ingredient quantities, but would knock the rating down to 4 stars for less experienced cooks.