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Martin Yan's Asian Favorites from Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Thailand

by: Martin Yan

Berkeley CA: Ten Speed Press 2001, $21.95, Paperback
ISBN: 1-58008-370-6


Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Winter Volume: 2001 Issue: 8(4) page(s): 9

Another recipe tour book that will win your heart. It details travels and tastes so luscious in three wonderful countries. Starting in Hong Kong, a city Martin left after an apprenticeship, and at the age of thirteen. He revisited several times since, and captures ever so many of its wonderful foods. How right he is heading a section: Where the Four Corners of the Globe Meet to Eat.

We suggest making every recipe in that first chapter, first to last, which is Yam and Potato Pancakes to Papaya and Snow Fungus in Syrup. All three dozen, except the Yin-Yang Pizza jumped off their pages and tasted terrific. Actually, the only gripe with the pizza one can easily be remedied, reduce the squash, delete the pineapple chunks, and double the mushrooms. We did and that recipe became a winner, too. The Barbecued Fish in Banana Leaf, or lotus leaf if you can not locate those from bananas, or in any other leaf or even aluminum foil, as the author directs, is one tasty dish. So is Grandma's Chicken in Rice Cooker. That quickie requires virtually nothing more than loading the cooker. It should be on every working person's 'do often' list.

The Taiwan section is to be tried, too. The Cookie-Cutter Fish makes darling delicious appetizers, and take a hint from our testing, mince the scraps and stuff them into soaked black mushrooms, and you have an second delight for your guests. The Baked Lobster with Green Tea comes from the Hilton Hotel and the recipe uses butter. As to its ground tea powder, take some green tea leaves and whirl them in your blender. That saves a trip to a speciality store where one can purchase them. The Stir-Fried Beef and Mushrooms sounds ordinary, but with portobella and oyster mushrooms and red and green peppers and bamboo shoots, it is anything but.

The Thailand section subtitled: Land of Color begins with recipes for Red Curry Paste, Green Curry Paste, Yellow Curry Paste, and Massaman Curry Paste. Make any one and your nostrils clear as use of them livens every dish. We loved the Minced Pork and Tomato Dip and will use it often for grilled and fresh vegetables. The Cucumbers Stuffed with Beef and Shrimp are great for a meal or for appetizers, and the Steamed Shrimp and Coconut Cream is a culinary masterpiece.

The book ends with a Glossary that explains any food item you may not know. It is a valuable addition to this half Chinese and half Thai cookery book. The foods in this newest Martin Yan volume bring the number of books by this energetic cookbook author to more than twenty. Use it to open your eyes and expand your taste buds to flavors known and beloved in this part of the world. Many recipes will become favorites; try them and they will have this effect on yours.

The recipe below, is rewritten in Flavor and Fortune style.
Stir-fried Beef and Mushrooms
Ingredients:
1 Tablespoons corn oil
6 ounces flank steak, cut into three-quarter-inch cubes
1 Portobelo mushroom. Cut into one-inch pieces
3 large oyster mushrooms, cut into one-inch pieces
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup diced red pepper
1/4 cup diced green pepper
1/2 cup sliced bamboo shoots
1 Tablespoon chu hou paste
Preparation:
1. Heat wok, add oil and fry the flank steak, stirring constantly, for one minute. Remove meat from the wok.
2. Fry mushrooms half a minute, add stock, cover and cook for two to three minutes. Remove the cover, then add peppers and bamboo shoots and stir for a minute. Return beef to the wok, add the paste and heat through, then serve.
Note: Chou hou paste is a thick sauce made of soybeans, garlic, ginger, and sesame seeds. It is available in jars in Asian markets.

                                                                                                                                                       
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