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3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
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on May 4, 2004
I think this cookbook has great potential in the hands of an experienced cook who can read the recipes and make necessary adjustments, but for the novice, following the recipes to the letter, results may be frustrating and disappointing. As an example, the Tea-Rubbed Salmon (using the Five Spice Chile Tea Rub) looks very enticing. The recipe for the rub calls for very large quantities of several spices, and yields six cups. The recipe states that the rub will keep for three weeks in the refrigerator. The salmon recipe calls for only one cup of this rub, and following the recipe exactly, I found that using this amount of rub completely overwhelmed the flavor of the salmon, rather than complementing it. The dish was barely edible. Just a sprinkle might have done the trick nicely! As it was, I was left with five cups of an incredibly intense spice rub, and there is no way on earth I'd want to use it six times in three weeks (before it expired)- this proved to be an enormous waste. I feel that the same lesson may be applied to other master recipes; they yield very large quantities of very intense flavor bases, and one might not want to use the same flavor base multiple times in the span of just a few weeks. I'd strongly recommend preparing a fraction (say, one-sixth) of a master recipe to make sure you -really- like it before investing in a full batch. I made up an eighth of a batch of the Thai Lime Dipping Sauce to use in the Thai Lime Chicken Salad, and this worked extremely well. The master recipe for the dipping sauce makes 5 cups, and the chicken salad recipe calls for only 1/2 cup... the dipping sauce keeps for only a week, so unless you'd like to eat this salad 10 times in a week, waste is inevitable. I don't think Ming scaled these recipes down enough to be useful for the home cook.
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on March 5, 2004
I received this book for Christmas and was very excited. But the recipes just weren't as good as I was expecting. The stir-fried ginger chicken was bland and the tropical fruit parfait was way too tart. Sometimes there just aren't enough details and nuances offered to the home cook who wants to try this type of recipe. The kicker came when I tried the lamb stew with five-spice tea rub. I followed the recipe to the letter and ended up with a stew so spicy-hot that it was unfit for human consumption (and I normally enjoy spicy food). It seems you need to use only a light dusting of the rub on the meat, but a cookbook this pricey should specify those kinds of things. After spending a ton of money on the ingredients for the stew (expensive meat, wine, huge quantities of pricey spices), I was furious when the end result was so disappointing. I was just relieved that I was not preparing this dish for company.
I'd give this cookbook zero stars if I could, and if it were a car I'd have it recalled. I cook a lot and I need recipes that I can count on to be reliable. These recipes are way too spotty.
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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.
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on November 25, 2003
As a child I watched way too many Saturday morning cartoons. Now as an Adult I find myself watching the Saturday afternoon cooking shows. Ming Tsai with his show "Simply Ming" is one of the most refreshing & unique cooking shows to date. He is a perfect gentleman with the confidence, politeness, & excitement to present his East meets West recipes. Normally he has a guest chief that shares a recipe, even his mother was on one show, & afterwards you can see his joy sharing the meals with the perfect glass of wine. The book is beautifully done in hard back, with a single photograph of each finished product. Some cooking books have the advantage of showing each step or at least the main steps of a recipe, which this cooking book is missing, but there are added features that make up for this. The book is section off with a certain taste, spice, or sauce as the core which Ming Tsai calls "The Master Recipe". Then meat, chicken, seafood, or vegetable dishes are shown using this core or "Master Recipe". What is really interesting is in the corner of each page is a list of the perfect wine to match each meal. Some recipes seem puzzling to me; one requires a certain tea to match with the other spices, would any normal orange tea do? Other recipes may require going to a special food market. is offering the hard back copy for a great price. Excuse me while I go shopping for a few of the ingredients...
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on November 10, 2003
Ming Tsai has given us a cookbook with a rare and rewarding twist to presenting an exciting, tasty 'East West' cuisine. The skill and inspiration behind the book is unmistakable. The more difficult issue is to what extent the method by which the recipes are presented make sense for your style of cooking.
Ming begins each chapter with 32 'master recipes' followed by one or more uses for that master recipe. In this context, 'master recipe' does not meat the same as the way the term is used by Julia Child in, for example 'The Way to Cook'. In this case, the outcome of a master recipe is a complete dish on which one can make variations. In Ming Tsai's usage, a 'master recipe' is the recipe for an ingredient which is not a dish in itself. This is certainly not a new idea as the examples of classic stocks and pastry doughs point out. Ming's contribution is to apply this principle systematically to a wide range of intermediate, storable ingredients for creating about 145 different dishes.
Ming states the notion came to him when he translated procedures used in his restaurant, 'Blue Ginger' to the practice of home cooking. I am convinced that professional cooking techniques can often be transferred to the home with good results, but as many have pointed out, there are many techniques which simply don't travel, and, that the home cook can often achieve better results than one can do in a typical restaurant. The question is whether or not this technique succeed at home. Obviously, many home cooks make their own stocks and pastry doughs, so the question is basically whether the technique works equally well for the other 'master ingredients' presented in this book. I think the answer largely depends on what kind of cooking one does.
The types of cooks which will clearly benefit from this book are:
1. People who enjoy reading cookbooks, regardless of the practicality of the recipes.
2. 'foodies'. People for whom cooking is a hobby.
3. People with large familys who have the time and resources to prepare and store the ingredients.
4. People with finicky family members, where some effort on two dishes can be combined.
5. Other people with a lot of time for advance preparation and semi-skilled hands for prep work. A church social kitchen, for example.
6. People working up menus for restaurants.
7. People who do serious entertaining, for whom the food / drink pairings will enhance their menus.
This is unquestionably a good and useful book. I am especially grateful for the authoritative recipe for dashi broth and for the bread / pastry sections of the book. There are some tips which I have never seen before and which are unquestionably useful to the home cook. The recipes are also not too expensive. For example, being largely based on Oriental cuisines, the recipes use canola or grapeseed oil in place of olive oil. There is also very little use of the other famous Italian, French, or Russian big ticket ingredients. On the other hand, some ingredients may be very hard to find and Ming does not provide a page of internet sources. My local megamart still does not carry Kaffir lime leaves.
Some negative aspects of this book are:
1. The price. $32 for 140 recipes is no bargain. It will be available at a discount, but it is still a bit pricy.
2. In the short run, the recipes may actually take longer for the home chef than a conventional approach.
3. If one does more than two master recipes, keeping track of expiration dates becomes a chore.
4. If one does more than two master recipes, freezer and refrigerator storage becomes a problem.
I am very reluctant to say Ming has come up with something original, as I have not read every cookbook ever published. And, the advance preparation of stocks and condiments has been classic in both eastern and western cuisines. But, he has brought a very refreshing lesson to us, from which I think much can be learned.
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on January 5, 2004
Ming is master of many world cuisines, thus the East meets West Ghuru marches on as this latest seeks to provide truly remarkable fusion cooking to us home gourmets for quality grub in no time once master recipe bases are made.
This is unique and stylish way of dish planning/execution is stimulating in allowing one to ponder taste/texture/technique with other possibilities.
Into the likes of: Citrus-Tea-Rubbed Halibut with Orange-Fennel Orzo Salad; Scallop and Mango Ceviche;Crusted Cod and Zucchini with Chips and Caesar Dipping Sauce; Tomato-Kaffir Lime Turkey Bolognese; Braised Chicken with Mushrooms and Roasted Pepper-Lemongrass Sambal; Asian Sloppy Joes.
This guy bridges so many cuisines, yet with creativity, sophisticated fun and his own touch. Truly unique, delightful and special to many of us cookbook junkies. Simply Ming-ingful!
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on July 11, 2004
I've just made the fabulous fried calamari with the thai-lime dipping sauce, absolutely the best we've ever had! Only problem was the dipping sauce on its own is too salty to use alone as a dipping sauce, but when used to marinate the calamari it imparted wonderful flavor. The next time I make the calamari, I would make the spice mixture but not mix it with salt as the dipping sauce had more than enough saltiness. I also made the curry oil, which was very light and flavorful, great for light stir fries. Chocolate ganache and creme anglaise recipes were very good as well, especially the warm chocolate cake recipe. Overall a very nice book and a good companion to the PBS tv shows.
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on April 22, 2004
I was so excited when I got this cookbook, but I had no idea what was in store for me....I think the average recipe takes about 3 hours to prepare. Many of the the recipes call for two master recipes which take an average of an hour. I tried to make the the Meat Broth master took 2 days. Try to find 10 pounds of veal bones in one day....It took the store 3 days to save enough for me. The cooking techniques are not that difficult but most of the time will be gathering all the ingredients. I don't recommend this cookbook for anyone that does not live in a metropolitan area because you will not be able to find certain things and he doens't really suggest substitutions.
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