Phil's Cookbook Reads of 2021

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Yep. Found it.
It is available in the UK already (and in continental Europe).
It looks interesting!
 

phatch

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That would explain why Uncle Roger has a copy. Give us a review with your early access if you can.
 

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The Joy of Chinese Cooking, by Doreen Yen Feng, Hippocrene Books, New York.

My copy is from 1992, but it seems it was first published in 1984, but by a different press.

The recipes themselves look pretty normal and straight forward, as far as I can understand them.

The problem comes down to what seems to me to be self-stylized pinyin and failure to use common words for things in English. This(1984) was a time when the earlier pinyin was still pretty common in US cookbooks, the switchover happening starting in 1978 or 79 from memory. This was when Peking became Beijing in the new preferred pinyin for example. If this is originally from 1992, the pinyin choice makes even less sense.

During the specialized ingredients description, there are a few stand out entries of HUH? The entries offer the pinyin and chinese characters, then the common english word. So Jook Sün are bamboo shoots. And the recipes generally follow along the same way, just skipping the chinese characters.

Tiem Jook / Fooh Jook get no English words. The description is "Products of the soya bean. The soya bean milk when boiled separates in to various layers. The rich cream that rises is called fooh jooks, and the settling sediment is called tiem jook. When dried they look like stiff boards glazed with enamel but after they have been cooked, they become creamy and gelatinous. Tiem jook is used in fish dishes; while fooh jook is usually cooked in soup."

I'm guessing this is dried tofu/bean curd skin. But the description provided matches nothing I've seen sold as a differentiator. And does that mean flat sheets or the crinkled sticks? And what about fresh bean curd skin?

Hoy Sien Jeung Another famous red sauce which delights the palate. It is often used in cooking shelffish and ducks. Many People remember it as the delicious sauce that is served iwth Peking Roast Duck.

That seems she's talking about Plum sauce or Duck sauce but I suspect it's really Hoisin based on the pinyin even if I wouldn't have called it red. But hoisin as a word seems to have been in common use at the time the book was written based on books I have from the 70s. And certainly by 1992.

Mei Jing, The Essence of Flavor is the english used for it. White powder in small quantities has no flavor of its own but helps to bring out the natural flavors of the cooking.

So probably MSG, and searching on Mei Jing does bring up MSG as a match. But at another point in the book, it gets parenthetically called "gourmet powder" In 1992, these descriptions are useless. There's also another for what seems to be Five Spice Powder.

Other ingredients are deemed not worthy of description as they're obvious. Maybe.
Plain flour seems pretty obvious. Yet when another recipe calls for wheat flour, that would seem to indicate to use whole wheat flour? But the recipe itself is for transparent dumpling skin, and that would seem to mean wheat starch based on my reading of other books.

Because of this sort of confusion throughout the book, unless you can read the chinese characters, you're likely to have real trouble with the recipes. And in the case of the wheat flour, no chinese characters were provided.

I don't feel right about donating this book for others to read or buy. The confusion is just too damaging. I'll be recycling my copy with other paper scrap.
 

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CHINESE FOOD: Adventures in the World of Eating by Lilu Junru

is not a cookbook. This is more a cultural overview of China via food. It reads a bit like propaganda or maybe travel hype, but it made me recognize a bias of mine. Just how do you write about a culture via food without judging against another and not sound strangely positivist? Nor is it particularly deep, but it covers territory I've not seen covered before.

I had certainly seen the issue of entertaining guests of different philosophical food limitations, particularly in books on Indian food. And while I had seen explanations of food restrictions various cultures within China may have, I had not seen them addressed together in the ways I have of Indian food.

Published in 2010 in English by a Chinese press, it speaks well of Uyghur people and a few other Muslim minorities. Xi doesn't take office until 2013 and it shows in the different portrayal than I guess I'd get if written today. The last section is on trends in current dining. While I'm not in China to judge, I suspect this is now outdated.

If you're looking for an overview, this is worthwhile. It wasn't what I was particularly thinking of at this time and I don't remember why I picked this up anymore. It wasn't especially impactful to me, but I don't think I have the right mindset right now to get the most out of this book.
 

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Wok On by Ching-He Huang

I read her debut book (I think it was her first) Ching's Fast Food about the time it came out in 2011. I recall liking it well enough. The dish that sticks out in my mind to this day was a Peking Duck "sushi" roll.

Since then, she seems have published a number of books based on BBC cooking programs including one traveling in China with Ken Hom. I've almost picked that one a up a few times, but glancing through it seemed repetitive to other content I've seen.

Her gimmick seems to be simplification towards fast and easy in a pan-Asian cuisine. This book strikes me as having a more health-oriented take but also with a Western approach to flavor in cooking.

So about the health orientation. Every recipe gets a cutting board icon with a number representing prep time. A wok or saute pan icon with a number for cooking time. And then round dots with VE for vegetarian, GF for Gluten Free and DF for I'm still not sure what. Searching brings up Dairy Free as the most likely candidate but that doesn't seem to fit. She usually lists hydration and marination times separately from prep. I can understand that. She makes this call out in big print by the other numbers so it's clear what your time commitment is.

She uses tamari over soy sauce even though you can see Kikkoman soy sauce bottles in a few of the pictures. As a substitute, she recommends low-sodium light soy which tastes nothing like tamari. And her explanation for soy sauce is that it is used instead of salt in Asian cuisines. Which she should know better than to say. Her recipes here do take that approach though so she's consistent. It seems she leans on tamari to hit the Gluten Free thing, but doesn't really call out that reason with her recommended substitution.

She happily uses dark soy which she says is aged a lot longer. Except that isn't factual in modern production. It's usually just light soy hit with molasses/caramel color and some other things varying from brand to brand. It seems historically, it was a sun dried version of light soy but that concentration would make it more salty, not less which it usually is in contemporary bottles. Still, I do see plenty of writers who say dark soy is more salty than light even when the labels don't bear this out generally.

Additionally, there is no sugar to be found though "runny honey" abounds.

Some quotes regarding the style of cooking and the recipes.
Balance the aromatics – the awesome foursome!

I like to use a combination of garlic, ginger and chillies – what I call The Holy Trinity – but now I sometimes add spring onions to the mix too. Holy Trinity was so last year – now it’s all about the Awesome Foursome! I have been accused of adding garlic, ginger and chillies in almost all my dishes, but this is because I try to inject their healthful, anti-bacterial properties into my cooking as much as possible, so that I am getting the maximum healthful nutrients in any one meal. But it is entirely up to you and you can vary what you add to suit your likes and mood, of course.

‘Compartment’ cooking

Compartmentalise your ingredients – group aromatics together, also the vegetables, and seasonings. Think of your protein and treat it separately – what flavours are you trying to achieve? Finally, think of your garnishes and ways to inject some freshness into the dish at the end. So, break the recipe down. Sometimes the dish looks like a long list of ingredients but actually most are store cupboard ingredients, and garnishes. So, the dishes are not as long or as difficult as they may first ‘appear’ – after all – appearances are deceptive!
To me, this strikes me as a Western approach. In more traditional approaches, the ginger, the garlic, the scallions, the chiles all serve to "correct" a perceived flaw in the flavor of the ingredient. Perhaps the gaminess of the meat, the grassiness of a vegetable and so on. The above approach seems more western in starting with "aromatics" as a flavor base and working through the recipe to the end. For her goals of quick and easy, this would diminish the in and out of the pan thing that can happen in some recipes.

Quick homemade sauces and seasonings

From sriracha and oyster to garlic hoisin, you can create sweet, sour and spicy sauces that will complement your dishes, whether you use them as cook-in sauces or dressings on the side. Think of your condiment cupboard like a bar, where you are the mixologist, creating your own sauces.
Again, this strikes me as a naive western approach to more stuff is better I often see among the casusal cooking of my friends. And I admit, that I have a few stand-by recipes in this genre so it's not all bad.

The first section of recipe is Vegan/Vegetarian. On it's own, its the largest chapter, thought the multiple chapters of meat and such do dwarf it. The Vegan Hot and Sour soup picks up some extra flavor from some Sichuan preserved vegetables which I can see working out. She's getting more heat from chiles than white/black pepper but the flavors look about right. I don't quite agree with her idea of making it a more substantial meal by adding noodles or pour onto steamed rice. Noodles yes, the rice, no.

In the seafood section, her Cod Laksa stuck out to me. I've never made Laksa from scratch and her approach is simplified compared to some others I've seen. I think she hits on the critical flavors though and do want to try it out.

For the most part, this just isn't so much in my style of cooking. I was interested in her Westernized approach to the cuisine, as a contrast to try and pick out what I might do differently. We don't think about the food from the same angles at all. She's had an opportunity to eat more widely than I have and so there are things I think I can learn from her. I prefer her simplifications over those from Bee Yin Low (Rasa Malaysio blog). They're more to my taste. I prefer her cooking when she's less "health" focused though so take a look at her earlier work over this one imho.
 

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Mr. Jiu's in Chinatown by Brandon Jew

In the same vein as Xi'an Famous Food and Rodney Scott's World of Barbecue, this book is about recreating restaurant dishes. And like the food of those other two, lots of the cooking is really project cooking, not daily kind of cooking. I get more personal use from a more daily oriented kind of cooking, but these project sorts are certainly interesting and educational in another way.

As with the other two books, there's a fair amount of family story about how the food came to be what it is and how it evolved from certain family practices. Jiu's food is certainly more involved than the others though. The lobster jook takes 4 days of fermenting barley and demonstrates the more fusion approach of the restaurant by adding cognac, tomato paste and Korean roasted barley tea. You will also deep fry some red vermillion rice. Don't forget the fermented Kohlrabi, which takes at least a week or up to a month of fermenting itself.

And I was excited to see a recipe for salted egg yolk, until I got to the part where he dehydrates them for 2 days. So the cooking is deeply involved in lots of techniques, age and time and even equipment. Project cooking.

So from my perspective as a daily home cook, what's good here. The sour dough green onion pancake is doable, but also on the complicated side.
The soups are simpler, except for the Hot and Sour that goes on a path of its own. He starts off with a sizzling rice soup and keeps it pretty straight. Corn and squash blossom is a bit more seasonal and simple. So let's look at that Hot and Sour Soup.
HOT AND SOUR SOUP

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Our version of this soup will taste familiar but new to anyone who has ever tasted Chinese sour-hot or Chinese American hot and sour soup. We use sharp and pungent white vinegar, as well as earthy black vinegar for its rich, deep molasses acidity. The only “hot” quality comes from white pepper for a slow warming heat. Grind the pepper super-finely so that it dissolves into the soup, then give it a few minutes to steep and bloom before you taste. Pepper and vinegar change as they infuse a hot broth. Keep tasting and adjusting until both the “sour” and the “hot” come through. You may need one last tweak with vinegar right before serving. It will all come together as a singular flavor and delicately punch you in the face. Garnish with cilantro and nasturtium leaves and flowers for a special touch.

Active Time — 1 hour

Plan Ahead — You’ll need overnight for soaking, and 2 hours for simmering

Makes 8 servings

Hot and Sour Broth
2½ lb / 1.1kg white-fish bones and heads
1 oz / 30g dried flounder
2 qt / 1.8L water
2 cups / 340g ice cubes
⅓ cup / 30g diced celery
¼ cup / 25g diced fennel
¼ cup / 40g thinly sliced leeks (white parts only)
4 oz / 115g ginger, peeled, sliced, and smashed
1½ tsp ground white pepper
1½ tsp toasted sesame oil
¼ cup / 60ml light soy sauce (生抽, sāng chāu)
½ tsp dark soy sauce (老抽, lóuh chāu)
Kosher salt
24 dried lily buds or flowers
2 Tbsp neutral oil
¼ tsp celery seeds
1 cup / 100g trimmed fresh nameko mushrooms
1 cup / 70g fresh wood ear mushrooms
Kosher salt
4 oz / 115g firm doufu, cut into ¾-inch cubes
½ cup / 80g cooked, shredded crab meat
¼ cup / 60ml distilled white vinegar
3 Tbsp Chinese black vinegar, plus more as needed
To make the broth: Trim away and discard any guts and large blood vessels from the fish bones and remove and discard the gills from the heads; rinse the bones. Place everything in a large bowl, cover with cold water, and let soak overnight in the refrigerator.

Preheat the oven to 300°F

Place the dried flounder on an oven rack and toast until fragrant, about 5 minutes.

Drain the fish bones and then place them in a 6-quart or larger pot. Add the dried flounder, 2 qt / 1.8L water, and ice cubes and bring to a simmer over medium heat, skimming off any foam that floats to the top and never letting it come to a boil. Add the celery, fennel, leeks, and ginger; turn the heat to medium-low; and simmer, skimming occasionally as needed, until intensely flavored, about 2 hours.

Fit a fine-mesh strainer over a large bowl and then strain the broth and discard the solids. Stir the pepper, sesame oil, and both types of soy sauce into the broth. Taste, season with salt, and let cool. (At this point, you can transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, or in the freezer up to 1 month.)

Bring a kettle of water to a boil.

Place the lily buds in a heatproof bowl, cover with boiling water, and let soak for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large frying pan or wok over medium heat, warm the neutral oil for a few seconds. Add the celery seeds and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add all the mushrooms, season with salt, and cook until just tender, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

Drain the lily buds. Divide the sautéed mushrooms, lily buds, doufu, and crab among serving bowls. Bring the hot and sour broth back to a simmer. Add the white and black vinegars, then taste for balance and re-up the black vinegar as needed. Ladle the hot broth into each bowl (at the table, if you feel inspired) and serve immediately.

ON HOT AND SOUR
In 1945, Buwei Yang Chao wrote How to Cook and Eat in Chinese, a book introducing the diversity of regional Chinese cuisines to American home cooks. In it, she—with help from her daughter and husband—coined the terms “stir-fry” and “pot sticker” and described “sour-hot soup” (酸辣湯) as “a very famous soup that sometimes will help you get rid of leftovers.”
Most readers had never tasted anything such as sour-hot. Spicy Chinese food didn’t enter mainstream American consciousness until after 1965, when a critical mass of people with roots in Sichuan and Hunan, among other provinces, made this country home. In San Francisco, Cecilia Chiang served a version when she opened the Mandarin on the other side of the hill from Chinatown in 1961. Chiang's restaurant was among the first to introduce the crossroads cuisine of Beijing, with its pan-China, Muslim, and Mongolian influences, as well as the regional cuisines of Shandong, Zhejiang, and other northern provinces. “Mandarin” (until then, the term for the language of imperial court officials and a type of orange) became synonymous with northern Chinese cuisine, which essentially came to mean anything other than what the first wave of immigrants had been cooking in Chinatown. New restaurants capitalized on the perception that some cooking was more “authentic” than others.
In 1974, California Living magazine explained that this new regional cuisine tended to have “a dry texture” that required chewing long enough to “taste all the underlying explosions within it.” The primer suggested earning your server’s trust by not trying to order Cantonese-style food and promising not to send back dishes that were too spicy.
Sour-hot was one of the earliest of the so-called authentic, regional Chinese dishes to catch on in this country. At first, cooks made it as close as they could to what they knew, using available ingredients—numbing, lemony, green Sichuan peppercorns were technically banned from import by 1968 for more than four decades. The Sichuan version was a mix of white and red rice vinegars, white peppercorn, and smuggled Sichuan peppercorn, perhaps topped with fermented mustard greens and soft sheets of pork blood. Beijing-style included white pepper and black rice vinegar and bits of ham and seafood, with wontons or noodles. Soon it appeared, mellowed, alongside Cantonese staples in Chinatown—the gateway spicy dish.
As customers developed preferences, chefs edited and found flavor in new sources. But eventually, sour-hot’s American identity converged toward a standard—strips of pork and doufu, egg ribbons, mushrooms (usually mu’er, a black tree fungus), and dried lily buds in a broth of black peppercorn and white vinegar. It became “hot and sour,” not “sour-hot,” rebranded to emphasize what seemed to matter most. In the United States, with a new form and a new name, hot and sour came to represent a cuisine that didn’t exist before in the old country.
It sounds good, but its a bit much to put together for a quick dinner or lunch.

I like the vegetable section a lot. Good photographs of different things so you know what to look for. There are also some handy tables for light greens and another for hearty greens. each with name variations, what to look for, prep instructions and general seasoning guidelines. He offers some salads in the Western style with interesting fusion vinagrettes, a vegetarian Kung Pao and more. The Mapo variation happens to be in the Vegetable section. I think that is in error, but it might be because they make their own tofu from yellow soybeans?

The fish recipes strike me as perhaps too specific to a source of particular fish than is as adaptable as I would need some 1000 miles from the ocean. I'd have appreciated some generalization but then it wouldn't be a recipe from the restaurant I guess.

In the meats section, there are a number of really interesting dishes. The White Cut Chicken goes french fusion into a gallantine. Detailed instructions and photos for each step. It's a beauty.
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And to show you what's going on, here's step 14 where you've deboned and skinned your whole bird, created your farce, have various other cuts of the chicken in strips for the center texture while getting ready to roll.

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White Cut Chicken has never seemed as tempting. So White Cut Chicken is a classic I've not made as it sounds really bland normally. I've made Hainanese Chicken which shares a lot of methods and results, but with a punchier sauce. They use a similar sauce of green onion and ginger but without the chiles that often show up for the Hainanese Chicken.

I was again excited for a couple of short recipes in the Hot Pot topic. He offers an Herbal broth and a Spicy broth. The Herbal was more interesting to me as I've not seen one broken down before. There are a lot of spicy versions out there. He also gives a recipe for Sesame-Garlic sauce. The sesame sauce I've seen is clearly not just the sesame paste. it's thinner and has other flavors going on and now I know one approach to making it. He makes his own Shacha which is much like a shortcut XO sauce. Those two are the basis of most dipping sauces for hot pot, even in the Korean variations.

I liked this book. It's interesting. If you're not into project cooking, I don't think this is really the right book for you. It's not the right book for me to cook from generally either. But there was a lot of interesting things going on. Anything complicated is well documented. But read the instructions carefully. Special equipment or fermenting time may be lurking anywhere.
 

phatch

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Added How to Grill Vegetables by Steven Raichlen.

I like his books. He usually does some good deep research and uncovers a couple of winning ideas for me to keep and use.
 

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phatch phatch what a great thread. The dialog between you and butzy butzy is like two old friends on a Saturday morning having coffee and sharing stories.

My latest reads have been

Modern Greek Cooking by Pano Karratassos

and

Live To Eat by Michael Psilakis
 

phatch

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Smoke & Pickles: Recipes and Stories from a New Southern Kitchen by Edward Lee

I don't feel I can do this book justice. It had chatty introductory stories that didn't work for me; an eclectic mix of food with an erratic blending of cuisines, many of which would be stretch to call southern.

Editorial/Reviewer Hat On: A cookbook is a narrative, though not in the way a novel is. This is more of a sales narrative to connect the book to your narrative to excite you about ideas and the food. So you'll incorporate those things into your life and feel fulfilled in some way, maybe that the dish was a success or something.

This book has an aloofness to the narrative that doesn't invite you in or at least didn't invite me in. One of the early stories is about how he got into graffiti as a kid. While there is some identity in a tag, the graffiti itself is usually anonymous and temporary. It will be replaced soon by someone else's graffiti. That vibe of temporary aloofness was the main impact on me. It was as if he didn't really care if I cooked or liked the food somehow.

Hat Off.

I do like his analogy of graffiti to food. Your previous meal is replaced by your next one. Each meal is fleeting. It's just the nature of fueling our biology.

The first two dishes are rice and remoulade. You'll return to these two items over and over as the themes of most of the chapters start with a rice bowl,l topped with theme items and some variation on remoulade. He prefers his rice to have a crusty bottom and so recommends cooking it in a cast iron pan. Interestingly, he turns off the heat to let it steam, a common approach. Then turns it back on to work the crust to his standard of crust perfection.

A little more on the story. Lee is a Korean American, The title is tied to his view that Smoke and Pickles are essential elements of both Korean and Southern cuisine. I can see the relationship, but it didn't seem to serve as the actual theme of the food he offers. The recipes strike me as being in the more is more vein of cooking. A little of lots of things to punch the flavor. It just wasn't working for me. This may be partly in that Korean food doesn't really excite me either for reasons I've not yet quantified. Maybe the hot sauce recipe will exemplify things.

HOT SAUCE
MAKES ALMOST 4 CUPS
1 pound mixed red jalapeño peppers, fresh Thai bird peppers, and habanero peppers
6 garlic cloves
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 Red Bull (an 8.4-ounce can)
1 cup water
¼ cup hoisin sauce
¼ cup sugar
4 teaspoons fish sauce
4 teaspoons Asian sesame oil
1 Trim the stems from the peppers. Combine all the ingredients except for the Asian sesame oil in a medium pot and bring to a boil, cover, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
2 Transfer the contents of the pot to a blender and puree until smooth, adding water as needed to create a smooth sauce. Add the sesame oil and blend well. Transfer to a jar and store in the refrigerator. The sauce will keep for up to a month.

We drink a ton of Red Bull in my kitchen. It keeps us going through the sluggish afternoon hours. Some days, it seems to be the most prevalent ingredient in the kitchen, which always gets me thinking about ways to use it in a recipe. I used to put ginger ale in this hot sauce, but I like it better with the Red Bull. It’s sugary, citrusy, and loaded with caffeine. What’s not to like? If you are one of those people who are wary of the product, you can substitute ginger ale or Sprite.

It just seems kind of all over the place without a real starting or finishing point. When he uses Hot Sauce in the recipe, he usually specifies Texas Pete. So why did he include this?

I couldn't find the point of it all. It's gotten pretty good press and placement in the book stores. Maybe your narrative is a better match to his.
 
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Parwana Recipes and Stories from and Afghan Kitchen by Durkhanai Ayubi

I've eaten in Afghan restaurants only a handful of times. I don't know the cuisine well. My favorite thing is a stuffed flatbread streetfood, bolani, available with different fillings and sauces.

Here, we have a family, fleeing Afghanistan in the mid 80s. Into Pakistan, and then migrating to Australia where they open Parwana after a few years. The food is broken up into different sections reflecting different time periods of their experience. So there are some traditional dishes and some seemingly adapted from their restaurant service for home cooks.

Early, I was struck by the use of garlic powder. It's only used a few times actually, and mostly early in the book. It just struck me as such a western convenience ingredient. I don't see it in India, or Persian recipes. The time it was used on a fried freshwater fish makes some sense. But I do think this usage is something brought to Afghanistan by the turmoil thrust upon it rather than a long traditional practice.

Similarly is the frequent use of curry powder. It's not always used, many times a recipe being built up from the common spices of cumin, coriander, fenugreek and so on. But it was a very frequent ingredient. Again, I wonder if this is something they adopted while in Australia as an easy shortcut or if it's one brought to Afghanistan by the various external forces.

There are also ingredients new to me. Brown onions seems to be what we in the US call a yellow onion. Dried russian olives (sinjid)--here in the Western US, Russian Olive is a thorny invasive tree. and not something eaten. I've never noticed this in the ethnic grocer so I'll have to see if I ever see it. Sella basmati rice is basmati rice par-cooked in the husk and then dried. Again, nothing I've noticed in the grocer, so I'll have to pay more attention.

Among the Bolani fillings are a Leek filling, substituted with garlic chives as the particular leek isn't available. I wonder if this is a "Shandong" leek? The folks at Chinese Cooking Demystified talked about how they had been translating to the English Leek, but the actual leek used is different species, Narrower, somewhat different flavor. I see them in my asian market as a "Shandong" leek.

There is also a potato filling, a chicken filling and a pumpkin/squash filling. A yogurt dip and some chutney/relishes are suggested for the sauce.

Bolani, like many street foods, are labor intensive.

Another thing that stood out to me is the heavy hand with oil. For a while it seemed like it was in vegetarian dishes and I was thinking it was about calories to fuel a hard life. But then it cropped up with lamb, chicken, and various beans. The first dish I noticed it in was tokhme banjanromi--something akin to a shakshuka or maybe a Chinese Tomato and Eggs stir fry.
TOKHME BANJANROMI

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This recipe is for traditional Afghan-style breakfast eggs, which are cooked in a sauce of onion, tomato and chilli, absorbing the complementary flavours. As with most Afghan meals, particularly breakfast, fresh naan breads (see here) served on the side are essential. Afghan breakfast spreads also typically include shir chai, a traditional milk tea that, with its dairy base, provides a calorie- and protein-rich start to the day.

My mother recalls having this dish for breakfast during family day trips, such as to Mazar-i-Sharif for the red tulip festival during the spring equinox. It would be made in a beautiful copper karayee, a shallow, heavy-based pan used in Afghan cooking. The karayee would be placed directly over a portable kerosene burner, where the eggs, vegetables and spices would bubble away. The large karayee was then placed in the middle of the breakfast spread, surrounded by naans and various chais, for everyone to help themselves.

This is an easy dish to scale up, to feed as many guests as you need.

SERVES 4

AFGHAN BREAKFAST EGGS

250 ml (1 cup) sunflower oil
1 large brown onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 ripe tomatoes, halved and thinly sliced
1 fresh long red chilli, thinly sliced
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon chilli powder
Coarsely chopped fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves, to serve
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over high heat and fry the onion and garlic for 5 minutes, or until softened and browned. Add the tomato and fresh chilli, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomato is softened, but still intact, then stir in 2 teaspoons salt, or to taste, to combine.

Break the eggs into a bowl then pour evenly over the tomato and onion mixture in the saucepan. Break up the yolks gently, if that’s how you prefer them, then cover the pan with a lid. Reduce the heat to low and cook the eggs slowly, shaking the pan occasionally to avoid sticking for 5–10 minutes, or 10–15 minutes for medium-soft, or until the eggs are cooked to your liking. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, the chilli powder and coriander to taste, and serve hot – straight from the pan.

My digestion is not ready for this amount of oil. If this book is any guide, the practice is well entrenched in the cuisine.

The approach to naan seems westernized, prepped on parchment lined rimmed baking sheet, and patted to fill the sheet, then baked. Another Naan is done in rounds, but is thicker than I think of naan.

The section of rice "casseroles" ( my term) is lengthy and varied. A number of different rice types are used including sticky rice, regular basmati and the sella basmati.

Parwana makes me think the cuisine is in flux. The upheaval and foreign influences in Afghanistan are unlikely to leave the cuisine unmarked. This family existed in the midst of it. Even if their adaptations are primarily for dealing with the realities of a western kitchen, the practice of diaspora cooking is well established in world cuisine, and even revered in some cases. It's at least a snapshot in time, and filled with aromatic flavorful things.
 

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Night+Market by Kris Yenbamroong

Not a review, just a skim because it was hitting all the wrong notes for me. I'm not getting paid to go through a book no matter what. It has to hold enough interest for me to invest my time. On that scale, Smoke & Pickles is a comparative success.

It starts off with lots of pointless chitchat, a declaration that an order of a single bottle of wine would be a success (this in a restaurant based cookbook) and other digressions.

Anyway, I was hoping for more of a Thai night market kind of thing, but this is an overseasoned Los Angeles ego trip mostly on Thai food. And a Mexican food truck, a quick flight to Hawaii for Poke and some other oddities with no rhyme or reason. All stir fries recipes are for one serving. You are instructed to not scale up but cook each serving separately. I can sort of see the point, but that rings the failure bell in my head for a cookbook for home cooking.

I have found the delete key in my Calibre library software. I have used it.

https://calibre-ebook.com/ it's freeware, and very capable. It works on Apple, PC, Linux.

Next up Hot Sour Salty Sweet by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid. It's already better.
 
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I have hot sour salty and sweet on kindle.
I like it.
It has some good recipes in it, although the indexing could be better!
I think I would have preferred the real book.
Curious to see what you find of it
 

phatch

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Even just that first recipe for ion/lon--hard to tell in print sometimes, It's simple, straight forward and feeds the group. And reads as pretty tasty.

Night + Market gets rave reviews, but it just isn't oriented to cooking for a group or a family. It's for one or two people for the most part. So if you live in group situation, it just isn't practical, but becomes more of a food performance. It doesn't scale to my reality.

Night Market opens with Pad Thai, punching the sour and sweet with white vinegar and processed sugar rather than the tamarind and palm sugar. I can see where that would capture the US taste for sweet and sour, but it lacks the nuance, the tradition, the terroir of the origin. It definitely shows the terroir of Los Angeles.
 

phatch

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I find myself mentally revisiting Diane Kochilas excellent Greek cookbook, The Glorious Foods of Greece. In that book, she is intentensely regional in the organization and I recall thinking it would be handy to organize the similar "pies" together or give a basic pie and then break out the regional differences as variation on the base pie.

And now in Hot, Sour... where the organization is putting like with like, I find myself wanting to see the food linked more regionally. I want both.

I need a dynamic ebook that I can re-organize by tags. I can do a pass by regional tag with the recipes from that region together, and then jump to a salad tag to see how different regions interprets that salad idea. So rather than a book per se, it would become a tagged database that the reader organizes by how you have selected tags, with a default layout to deliver the overall perspective of the original author too.

I can dream.
 
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phatch

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Finished up with Hot, South, Salty, Sweet by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid.

I like the cooking here, the Thai less so than some of the rest. But that probably reflects my tastes more than the cooking specifically. It did seem to fall back on simple Thai dishes focused chile, lime, lemongrass and fish sauce without some of the other flavors as much as I might have preferred. If I were a bigger chile-head, I'd probably have liked those better. My family is even less chile oriented so that influences me too.

The book takes the Mekong River as its organizing theme, but not strictly so. They frequently reach out of the Mekong drainage basin to reach further into Thailand, particularly Chiang Mai and a few other places. Nor do they follow the Mekong from the headwaters on down as an organizing principle itself for the food, but more for the stories.

There are a lot of stories. But more than travelogue, it is a peoplogue about the people who took care of them, taught them dishes and demonstrated their culture. Still more story than I want, but tastes differ.

I liked the Morning Market Noodles and its easy variations built from parts of other recipes in the book. This recycling gives you a built-in path for leftovers and simplifies your next meal besides just tasting good. Similarly, the various ways to build a noodle bowl (Vietnamese Noodle Combos). I've done similar things so these plugged into my notes and practice as convenient augmentations and variations.

I mentioned the lon a few posts back. Simple and good.

There's a ginger beef dish using ginger as a vegetable I'm intrigued by but probably can't pull off. It needs the young pinkish ginger to be tender and I so rarely see it.

KHMER STIR-FRIED GINGER AND BEEF


[saiko cha k’nye—CAMBODIA]​


Sao Pheha (see Phnom Penh Nights, page 242) introduced me to several easy dishes from the Khmer home-cooking repertoire. This was perhaps the simplest, and also the most surprising. It’s a stir-fry in which ginger has the role of featured vegetable, warming and full of flavor. The ginger is cut into julienne twigs and then fried with a little beef. The result is a mound of beef slices and tender ginger, all bathed in plenty of gravy, a great companion for rice.


Be sure to buy firm ginger for this dish (ginger with wrinkled skin will be tough and stringy), and, if there’s a choice, young ginger rather than the tan mature ginger. Serve with a sour stew or soup, such as Khmer Fish Stew with Lemongrass (page 181) or Buddhist Sour Soup (page 58), and some simple greens, such as Classic Mixed Vegetable Stir-fry (page 151).

Generous ½ pound boneless sirloin, eye of round, or other lean beef
½ pound ginger, preferably young ginger
3 tablespoons vegetable or peanut oil
3 to 4 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
2 teaspoons sugar


Thinly slice the beef across the grain and set aside. Peel the ginger, then cut it into fine matchstick-length julienne (this is most easily done by cutting thin slices, then stacking these to cut into matchsticks). You’ll have about 2 cups.

Heat a wok over medium-high heat. Add the oil and, when it is hot, add the garlic. Cook until golden, 20 to 30 seconds. Add the meat and stir-fry, using your spatula to separate the slices and to expose them all to the heat, until most of the meat has changed color. Add the fish sauce and sugar, toss in the ginger twigs, and stir-fry until just tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Serve hot with rice.


SERVES 4 with rice and another dish

Butzy has lamented the index. I too have the ebook, so it's not a hardship to do a whole text search. Within the text, as shown above, it's usefully cross-referenced to related or compatible dishes.
 
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