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Discovering Asian Ingredients

by: Jennifer Yee

Aukland, New Zealand : Random House, New Zealand 2001, Hardbound
ISBN: 1-86941-461-6

Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Summer Volume: 2001 Issue: 8(3) page(s): 26 and 27

Pocket-sized and a pocket book, this one belongs in any pocket when discovering and shopping for Asian ingredients. I would say to put it in your kitchen, close at hand, when cooking items from this continent. Sub-titled: For New Zealand Cooks, the book does sell itself short because it teaches how to shop, smell, cook, and taste Asian-style. Citing Grace Young’s The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen reviewed in Flavor and Fortune's Volume 6(2) on page 16, it advises that "each ingredient has its own singular importance, the preparation of a meal is the joy of life, and the proper creation of a dish can have favourable influences on health and fortune."

This little book is big on information, be it basic techniques--thirteen of them, or equipment--eighteen of them, also on how to use them. We are not surprised and could say 'little wonder' as it is written by a food science and nutrition graduate who really has expert knowledge about Asian ingredients. She runs culinary tours, takes herself and others on culinary journeys, has her own web site, and she is current and correct.

The Asian pantry, the bulk of this book, is an 'A to Z' look at all you need to know. In it and in other sections, are recipes for many of the items discussed. This section and all the others are informative. The first one discusses canned, bottled and dry ingredients. The second elucidates about the staples: rice, noodles, and flour. After that, there is another called: Beyond Bok Choy. In that chapter you learn about greens and other vegetables. Next comes one on herbs called 'wet spices.' The book ends with five web sites for Asian food. Via e-mail, the author advises that Flavor and Fortune will be in the book's next revision. There are suppliers listed in five New Zealand cities, a bibliography citing fine recent books, and a complete and well-referenced index.

Overall, the book is a worthwhile, simple and practical guide. While not available in many countries, do not fret. Order yours on the web at www.flyingpig.co.nz

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