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Martin Yan Quick & Easy

by: Martin Yan

San Francisco CA: Chronicle Books 2004, $24.95, Paperback
ISBN: 0-8118-4447-1

Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Spring Volume: 2005 Issue: 12(1) page(s): 25

Jackie Chan likes this book because it gets him out of the kitchen fast, and makes dishes with style. Sara Moulton finds the recipes based upon supermarket ingredients within reach of the most novice cook. Martin Yan himself says one can whip up delicious dishes in thirty minutes or less. We suggest there are many fine recipes for your enjoyment.

And so it should be because this is a companion volume to the Public television Series of the same name. Many maybe millions are watchers; now they can be readers wokking up their own speed-storm cooking. The book has Asian recipes from Taiwan and China, Korea, Vietnam, Japan, Thailand, Singapore and elsewhere in Southeast Asia, and from sources in Yan’s adopted homeland, the United States.

As on television, the book shows how to master quick chop and hot wok. In the book, information abounds about tools and techniques, what is needed in pantry, refrigerator, and freezer, and where are some online sources. For the novice, seventy-seven all-Asian glossary items are explained.

This book is the first we have seen with a personal favorite, furikake. This super-seaweed-based seasoning mixture is an item we use almost daily; and should advise that not every mixture has seaweed, though most do. Yan rightly advises there is no single recipe. Our favorite brand offers a dozen delicious mixes; several enhance our Chinese creations.

After fourteen beautifully simple basic recipes, including one for ponzu sauce that no salad gourmet should be without, the recipes are in chapter collections titled: Small Bites & First Courses; Main Courses; Vegetables, Rice & Noodles; and Desserts & Drinks. There are quick & easy meal suggestions, and after them, a six-page three-column cross-referenced index and a page of Tables of Equivalents. All this from more than fifty-two TV productions.

These are tasty and terrific recipes for everyone, even for those who prefer spending more time making their food. To them, our suggestion is to make them all. One PR page touts preparing Classic Potstickers, Korean-style Lamb Chops, Flash-fried Asparagus and Long Beans, along with Three-Alarm Firecracker Shrimp and Coconut Custard. They all pass muster and are worth making, but there is so much more. Try the Dinner Oyster Omelet, but with fresh shucked not the suggested jarred bivalves. It was super! For an all seafood dinner, pair them with Poached Trout with Tangy Sauce, and some Tea-Smoked Salmon. Add Asparagus Orange Salad with its own dressing or with the Ponzu Sauce. When asparagus are not in season, try the Backyard Asian Coleslaw; it is an all-year winner. Try them and others, and sit down to a quick meal that is long on enjoyment!
Ponzu Sauce
zest of one lemon
1/2 cup mirin (or Swatow or another mild rice vinegar)
1/2 cup lemon juice
6 Tablespoons soy sauce (we suggest the thin variety)
1/2 cup of sugar
1 Tablespoon minced green onion
1. Combine all the ingredients in a jar or bowl. Shake or stir until the sugar dissolves. Note: Store this dressing a covered container in the refrigerator for up to a month. Serve it with salads, steamed fish, even coleslaw using Ponzu Sauce instead of the recommended dressing.
Backyard Asian Coleslaw
3 cups shredded napa cabbage
1 and 1/2 cups bean sprouts (we removed the tails on ours)
1/2 cup shredded carrot
8 ears baby corn, cut into one-inc pieces (we preferred ours slivered)
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1/3 pound deveined cooked and peeled shrimp(optional)
1/3 cup homemade or purchased mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
1 Tablespoon thin soy sauce
1 Tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons wasabi paste
1 and 1/2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce
2 Tablespoons chopped toasted walnuts
1. Mix cabbage, bean sprouts, carrot, baby corn, scallions, and shrimp and toss well.
2. Make dressing mixing mayonnaise, rice vinegar, soy sauce, honey, and chili garlic sauce.
3. Toss all ingredients with the pre-made dressing. Sprinkle the walnuts on top and serve.

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