- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Konemann; English ed edition (March 1 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 3895089095
- ISBN-13: 978-3895089091
- Product Dimensions: 22.2 x 3.2 x 26.7 cm
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 Kg
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #722,356 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Southeast Asian Specialties: A Culinary Journey (English) Hardcover – Mar 1 1999
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Southeast Asian Specialties starts with a map, a proverb ("other fields, other insects; other seas, other fish"), and a photo of whole, bronzed, barbecued chickens suspended in a shop window. The image is so vivid you can taste the salty crackle of their crisp, lacquered skin. From here, this encyclopedic book, crammed with information, unforgettable photos, and more than 200 recipes, takes you on a vivid journey through Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia. The chapter on each of these places opens with a brief overview of the local culture and history. This is followed by a procession of spreads, each devoted to a single subject. Cumulatively, this provides a comprehensive experience of the area's rich culinary life.
Since the Chinese are a major influence throughout Southeast Asia, you learn about the health-promoting principles of balance and about ingredients with medicinal benefits that are commonly used in home cooking. The "Dim Sum" section, like many others in the book, shows a dozen or more dishes, with captions providing detailed information. Often names are given in both Mandarin and Cantonese, and the Latin name is provided for anything that grows, from water spinach to various mushrooms. To deepen your understanding of local ingredients, you see how fresh beans become bean sprouts, how tofu and tempeh, indigenous to Indonesia, are made, and how shiitake mushrooms are grown. Equipment is described, with such details as how to season a new earthenware cooking pot.
Daring cooks can enjoy recipes for spicy Malaysian Fish Head Curry and succulent, silken Hainanese Poached Chicken. Those with access to an Asian market can try the recipe for Kuak Durian, a sauce made with the infamous fruit Southeast Asians adore, despite its revolting fragrance. On a simpler note you can make a Eurasian omelet, filled with fresh red chile peppers and onions. Whether or not you use its recipes, if you enjoy Asian food, this book is valuable and enlightening. --Dana Jacobi
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Culinaria contains recipes, but it's more than a cookbook. Culinaria is a lesson in the geography, topography, climate, history and art of the cultures they are covering. For example, did you know that Dim Sum originated when the Dowager Empress Tzu Hsi became bored with her food and the kitchen staff were challenged to keep her interested and amused? (They certainly outdid themselves on that task!) Well, there is an explanation of who the Dowager Empress was - mother to the only heir, defacto ruler of China for 39 years (into the 20th Century) when her own son died without an heir; renown for her beauty, charm and manners. This is followed by two glorious pages of pictures and explanations of various Dim Sum dishes.
Lots of space here is devoted to teas. Tea is important in almost every aspect of life, so it's important to know what to look for when selecting a tea. Did you know that in Asia there are tea tastings similar to wine tastings in the West? There is also information about tea ceremonies. You may have noticed that many Asians pour hot water over the outside of the teapot when they are making tea. The reason? The teapots are unglazed...by the time the water dries, the tea inside is brewed to perfection.
Plenty of space is devoted to herbal cures and medicines, how they are gathered and prepared. The uses of soups as medicines - or perhaps how medicines (for example, seahorses) are turned into soups. There is plenty of information about noodles, wines, seafood, Asian cooking utensils and methods.
The only complaint I have about this volume in the series is that it attempts to cover more material (multiple countries) in fewer pages than some of the other books.